Saturday, March 18, 2006


Why is it that cowboys and baseball players seem to be about the only people on the planet who chew tobacco? There are exceptions of course. I know a Swedish economist consultant who puts cute miniature "tea bags" of tobacco in between his lip and gums. Very tidy, no need to spit. But Tom is an eccentric. You see no "tea bags" here - leave it to the Swedes to keep things tidy.

If you want to try your luck with chew, here’s how it’s done. You buy yourself a tin of Skoal or Copenhagen or one of the less popular brands. You take a pinch of the stuff between your forefinger and thumb and you pack it down between your lip and gum. I’ve noticed that most people seem to either place the "chew" or "chaw" in the center of the mouth or toward the left side. Maybe left-handers favor the right side of the mouth, I guess I’ve never noticed.

You take your tongue and pack it in harder. You don’t want a wad to dislodge in mid-conversation and choke you to death.

After "loading up" you place the tin in either your breast pocket or the back pocket of your jeans. In both places (particularly in very tight jeans) the distinct shape of the can announces that you’re a chewin’ man. The other sure sign is that big bulge in your cheek that makes you talk a bit odd.

Then there’s the technical part - the spit. If you’re considering taking up this sport read this next sentence VERY carefully. DO NOT swallow!! If you happen to forget that rule you will be well appraised of the fact a short while down the road. Sure, some of the stuff goes down, and to the uninitiated you’ll know it. To the seasoned user it’s not a problem. Still, there’s a great deal left hanging there in your saliva and you have to get rid of it. Herein lies both the technique and the art and this is why I think most people use the stuff - the graceful, even tasteful elimination process.

If you are outdoors in a place that caters to cowboys or baseball players, you can rare back and spit. HOW you spit is the key. I’ve seen some who just hawk out a gob, some who almost spray it out, others who sort of dribble. The real pro, and the chewing gentleman, forms a projectile - an almost round, very compact wad of spit. This wad can travel a fairly amazing distance if projected correctly. And there are some experts who can hurl the wad with considerable accuracy. It is a fact that some folks can hit a distant spittoon with uncanny consistency.

If, however, you are indoors and it is not spittoon country you must be discrete. You need to find a receptacle into which to deposit your savings. In a bar or restaurant this is easy - a beer or pop can will do nicely. One must take particular care to dispose of the beer or pop can properly as there is the age old story of someone reaching for the wrong can and slurping up a big surprise. In other circumstances one may have to excuse oneself and journey to the rest facilities or step outside.

One thing: if you take up this habit, ALWAYS have a spare tin of chew around. In most polite company you’ll not be able to "bum" some and a chewin’ man without his chaw is a sad and miserable creature indeed. Why, you could lose the World Series if the pitcher runs out of chaw, or you could find yourself on the ground with 2000 pounds of bad bull coming down your way if you cowboyed without a pinch.

One last point (a question): can someone please explain the fine sensation of French kissing a guy who’s got a wad of tobacco and gooey spit sliding around in there?


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