I recently took up a nasty habit I thought I had kicked back in high school.

I have been chewing gum.

Now, as any Southern grandmother will tell you, the only proper place to chew gum is behind a door.

But this gum was for medicinal purposes. My mouth was dry.

Chewing gum as a grown-up was a vastly different experience.

First of all, where did the Juicy Fruit go?

Standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, I was confronted by champagne-flavored gum, cheesecake-flavored gum, gum with jelly inside, gum with a hard candy shell.

We are one step away from Bubble Gum M&Ms.

I decided on a candied gum with jelly inside in a variety of fruity flavors. It did not come in a pack. It came in a jar.

Chewing gum has been around for thousands of years. A gumshoe archaeologist found a wad of 6,000-year-old gum in Finland. OK, it was a wad of tree sap. But it had tooth marks in it. No word on whether it was found stuck to a bedpost.

Modern chewing gum was made possible by, of all people, President General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who is more famous as the Mexican general who defeated all those scrappy Texans at the Alamo in 1836.

In the 1860s, Santa Anna introduced American manufacturers to a tree gum called chicle, which had been chewed by the ancient Mayans and Aztecs. “Remember the Chiclets!”

By the 1960s, chewing gum manufacturers were no longer using chicle but were instead using — brace yourself — synthetic rubber.

That piece of minty-fresh berry blast gum is really just artificially flavored artificial rubber with artificial sugar.

Gum can be a good thing. In “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” Bill and Ted use chewing gum to fix their time machine.

Gum can be a bad thing. In “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” the gum-loving Violet Beauregarde chews a piece of experimental gum and blows up like a giant blueberry.

When I started chewing gum again, I had so many questions. Was I smacking too loud? Did I really look like a cow chewing my cud? Was I going to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time?

I was clueless as to proper gum etiquette.

For example: If I am in the office, sitting quietly at my desk chewing a piece of gum, and a co-worker comes over to talk to me, what should I do with my gum?

A. Tuck it between my cheek and gum like a wad of chewing tobacco.

B. Spit it out into my hand.

C. Stick it behind my ear.

D. Swallow it.

There are no good options here. It’s a sticky situation.

Miss Manners, when asked about the do’s and don’ts of chewing gum in public, replied simply, “Don’t.”

All right then. I’ll give up the gum. Instead, I’ll just be over here sucking on a lollipop.

Lisa Davis is Features Editor of The Anniston Star. Contact her at 256-235-3555 or ldavis@annistonstar.com

Features Editor Lisa Davis: 256-235-3555.

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