My cousin Jen asked me to explain exactly what I mean when I say "sucking on gum" and there are probably others of you out there thinking, "Huh?" (Those of you who haven't known me my whole life.) When I say "whole life," I mean literally my whole life. Since birth. Which isn't so weird when you're a baby--all babies suck. It's one of the few instincts they're born with. When you're 29 however....freak. Go ahead, say it. I know what I am. I've learned that there are several things about childhood that people grow out of as they grow up that I never did. Like, the fear of throwing up. Kids are often scared of throwing up. Adults? Not so much. Me? Yeah. Never grew out of that one. And eating habits. You know those foods that make up the kids' menu at restaurants, like corn dogs and chicken nuggets and mac & cheese? Yeah, those foods make up my diet (or at least they did until two weeks ago). Never grew into the "adult" taste buds that like onions and nasty stuff like that. And...sucking. Another childhood habit I've never outgrown.
So even as a toddler, when I should have outgrown the sucking thing, I sucked. My mom would give me gum in church to shut me up and I'd immediately stick it to the roof of my mouth (after chewing it a bit to soften it, of course) and start sucking, lulling myself to sleep. (My mom was like, "Score!" She was always shoving gum in my mouth after that.) In my family I was known for my sucking. I sucked on anything I put in my mouth, really. Click here for an illustration of this.
But the full-on addiction didn't happen until about 7th or 8th grade, when my mom started stocking the house with gum. She'd buy those packs at Costco and we always had some in the house, which I had access to. I started having gum all the time, and, naturally, I'd suck on it, as I always had. I didn't even think it was weird. I didn't know any different.
It wasn't until my Freshman year of high school that I asked my mom why the minute I put gum in my mouth I felt sleepy. It was then she told me the church story. Now, as a mother, I realize the correlation. It's just like babies: You put a pacifier in their mouth, bam. They're asleep. There's just something about that sucking motion that's very soothing. This probably explains why I'm tired all the time.
So, Jen, to make a short answer very, very long, the way I suck is just like you would suck on a Jolly Rancher. Basically my tongue is pushing the gum to the roof of my mouth. Permanently. This is the natural position of my mouth. Even when I don't have gum in it, my mouth will form this position (when I'm not clenching my teeth.) I've never, ever had a problem of swallowing it, except when I try to sleep with it.
And there you have it. Possibly the weirdest post you've ever read.