I have a lot of pet peeves in life, and a lot have to do with gum chewing. But my pet peeves are not just limited to gum chewing. I hate hearing people chew in general, and seeing people chew with their mouths open drives me nuts as well. First, it’s gross. Second, if you are chewing with your mouth open, you are unnecessarily amplifying the sound of your chomping, and no one needs to hear that.
I used to just chalk this aggravation up to things that were peculiar about me. I was a weird kid (I was petrified of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, and Halloween terrified me), so this just seemed to fit into that category of things that made me a difficult and not-so-fun child. I remember sitting at the dinner table, scowling at my mother, and being asked what was wrong, only to give this reply: “I can hear you chewing!!!” I was no more than 7 and it made me so angry I wanted to cry.
So I felt somewhat relieved when my Mom, who apparently doesn’t even hate me after all this time, told me that she and my Dad were watching Live with Regis & Kelly, and Kelly Ripa started talking about how she can’t stand how her husband chews certain things. She diagnosed herself with something called misophonia, where certain sounds can “literally drive a person crazy.” As my parents watched, my Dad laughed and said, “We have one of those.” At least there is a name for it and I am not alone. So that’s a relief.
However, going back to the gum chewing, I think that the older I get the less I can stifle my annoyances. This comes into play when snapping of gum enters the equation. I HATE when people snap their gum. I just can’t stand it. I try to ignore it. I’m very strong mentally, and can get myself to ignore or get by many things, but that is not one of them.
I find that people chew and snap gum a lot when traveling. Maybe it’s because of airline flights and the air pressure. Maybe it’s because they’re bored. All I know is, the more people that chew gum publicly, the more likely it is that someone will be snapping their gum, and it’s torture. My boyfriend and I just got back from some marathon travel to the east coast where we flew cross country and took trains and cabs all over the northeast while visiting family and friends. On the flight to Boston, we helped ourselves to as much wine as we could drink on a 6 hour flight (i.e., a lot). So, I was not the most rational by the time we landed. As we waited at baggage claim, a young girl (20s, maybe?) stood next to me snapping her gum. I wanted to punch her in the face. She had previously been across the baggage claim area, and I heard her then, too (I have dog ears when it comes to this stuff, I swear), so when she was in my ear, I could take it no more. I turned to her and said something to the effect of, “Can you please stop snapping your gum?!” I don’t really remember the details, but I’m sure I was rude about it. My boyfriend told me that he heard her with her friends afterwards talking about how I must be a meth head or something (I don’t see the correlation, but maybe that is the insult du jour among the youth?). I was so incensed by the gum chewing, this didn’t bother me in the least. Maybe she’ll think twice before being that obnoxious again.
Taking the train from Long Island to NYC, we were sitting in front of a girl who was snapping her gum. My boyfriend didn’t even hear it. I asked him if we could move because I couldn’t take it. Then, getting ready to get on the plane to come home, I spied a guy at the gate who was chewing gum obnoxiously with his mouth open. I knew it was bad news. He ended up sitting two rows ahead of me. I could hear him snapping periodically throughout the flight. When we landed, I was a little grumpy from flying and we had to wait forever for our bags after the carousel started and then stopped again. So when I spied the guy, who looked like a jerk anyway, now with a friend, who also looked like a jerk and was equally obnoxious in his open-mouthed gum chewing, I wanted to hurt him. When I heard the gum snapping as I anxiously waited for my bag, I wished I had a shiv so I could fly across the baggage claim area and stab him in the side of the neck.
These are not rational thoughts. Besides being most irrational, they are actually kind of crazy and homicidal. I am not that person. I swear, in all respects of my life, I am pretty normal, if not boring. That is why I think if I am ever going to snap and lose it and become a crazy person, it will be the gum snapping that gets me there. It will make a great “Weird News” headline some day. I think Kelly Ripa would feel my pain.