What Separates Us From The Animal Kingdom?

You might be surprised.

Photo Credit: Tablet Magazine Yair Rosenberg

Do you remember the feeling of absurd joy over securing a piece of Bazooka bubble gum when you were a kid?

I think one piece cost a few pennies back in the day. 

Yes, the same day I walked barefoot to school, in the snow, uphill. It’s a Boomer thing.

This was the bright pink gum that came wrapped in thin paper with a comic strip for your personal enjoyment. There were two distinctive parts, but you shoved both pieces in your mouth at once because you were a kid.

My mom used to say, “you look like a cow chewing its cud with that wad of gum in your mouth.” It was important to my mom that I looked and behaved like a lady at all times, so of course, I spent most of my time disheveled and running wild. I was such a rebel.

My excuse today is less viable. It has to do with jugs of water and Jesus. Enough said. 

Eventually, I resorted to chewing it at night under the cover of darkness in my room. I don’t remember falling asleep one night with a wade of it in my mouth (the gum people, try and stay with me). Normally I would stick it on the bedpost, but I must have forgotten and woke up with a sticky glob enmeshed in the nap of my hair. 

So gross.

Today, bubble gum reminds me of comic strips, sticky connections, and blowing bubbles which, according to Tim Richardson, immediately sets us apart from the animal kingdom.

Who knew?

Truth be told, comic strips are the only reason I can read and write today. God bless my mom for never giving up on my disdain for reading before realizing I had a passion for comic strips. Short sentences, the pictures told the story, and there were a lot of cool characters who chewed gum! 

Anyway, mom bought me a comic book every time she went to the grocery store. So I sort of forgave her for the cow comment and gum ending up in my hair. 

Now, on to sticky connections, this is a category all by itself. 

Brene Brown writes, “Across my research, I define sticky connection (Brene failed to add the sticky part, I should write her a note, she’s totally slipping) as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”

Like my mom did with the comic book thing, I felt seen, heard, and valued. Clearly a sticky connection.

I’ve always been interested in the idea of connection. I suppose because we’ve all experienced disconnection, especially as kids, which leads to feelings of isolation, loneliness, and a sense of powerlessness. I remember when no one would walk home with me from school or when the cool kids wouldn’t let me play Lost in Space with them on the playground. 

Absolute torture. 

Speaking of torture, my husband just walked across the room and said, “my boat is covered in bird shit,” before I finished my first cup of coffee, mind you.

I respond, “That’s why you have a cover, honey. Oh, and while you’re up, could you refill my cup?” I lift my empty mug in the air for emphasis.

He grumbles to himself, but it’s as if he did not register my observation or my request because he grabs some rags from the laundry room and heads down to the dock without looking back. I think he was still grumbling? 

How rude. 

But it’s also an experience of adults (we’re talking about sticky connections, I don’t know why this is so hard for you), primarily when used as a power play in friendships, relationships, and marriages. 

Brown says people with solid connections are happier, healthier, and better able to cope with the stresses of everyday life. And most likely to get their coffee refilled upon request. Just sayin’.

Brene goes on to say sticky disconnection is frequently a product of unequal power structures where chronic sticky disconnection and disempowerment can arise. Chronic being the key word here. Work environments come to mind, along with controlling individuals who hope to “hegemonize” or dominate a partner’s behavior with negative reinforcements. 

Right?

The thing that Brown points out is these feelings of sticky disconnection actually share the same neural pathways with feelings of physical pain. 

It hurts because it actually hurts. 

And even worse, according to Trisha Raque-Bogdan, someone who is exposed to this sort of continual abuse will eventually discount their need for others. They’ll learn that it is safer to keep their feeling and thoughts to themselves rather than share them in their relationships.

I think most of us have done this. I have, and it’s not fun. 

This is how it goes, I say/do something Larry doesn’t like, Larry says/does something I don’t like, I get mad, he gets mad. We withhold our sticky connection (see what I did there). It’s a form of silent torture, unresponsiveness, and physical withholding. It never works. 

And now you don’t need to read Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown because I just gave you the cliff notes. There are a few other things in the book, even some comic strips (a total bonus) and a nifty notes section for easy referral to topics. Oh, go ahead and get one, she could use the dough, and the poor girl obviously needs some Bazooka! 

The thing is, our individuality is required if we want to belong and connect with others. It’s when we try and fit in, look perfect (hello mom), or any behavior that masks our true self that leads to sticky disconnection and avoidance by others. 

Okay, let’s blow this up, so to speak.

Bazooka has three distinct attributes, according to Brett Ermilio: flavor, repetition, and cheap entertainment. 

But Travis Bradberry really does his research, like Brene, and he says chewing gum actually lowers your cortisol levels, the hormone responsible for stress. But chewing gum doesn’t just reduce stress; it also makes you more alert and improves your performance in memory-oriented tasks. It does so by increasing the blood flow to your brain and alerting your senses.

I think Larry needs some gum?

He comes back into the house acting as if he did not ignore my request for coffee and says all sweetly, “I need gas. You want to go with me?”

I say, “no,” and return to my post (which is not going well) and my empty cup.

“Really, you’re not going to go with me? Then I have to hold the boat and pump the gas at the same time?”

“Hey, I get my own coffee.” I shrug.

He looks at me like my mother did when I was chewing a wad of gum. I can see he’s just about to go into one of those sticky disconnections because he’s running a hand through his unruly hair, and his eyes are bulging like when I talk about bras and menopause. 

I relent. “I’ll go if you refill my coffee.”

He looks relieved, grabs my cup, and returns with a full cup. 

I can’t resist, it’s a character flaw of mine, but I need material for the blog. I say, “Honey, it’s not really warm.” Pointing innocently to the mug of coffee.

He looks incredulous. His hand is covering his mouth, so I might be misreading his expression, but it appears as if he’s choking on something.

His masculine resistance?

I add with undue cavil, “And it’s really hot in the house.” I fan myself with my hand for clarity.

Now he’s really confused. Seriously, he’s standing there with his hands on his hips and staring at me as if I’ve grown horns.

I smile sweetly.

He finally says, “oh, I get it.” I have no idea what he got? 

But he walks over to the thermostat and turns on the air conditioner, and then he grabs my cup (I detect a smile), warms the coffee in the microwave, and returns it to my side table. 

I might leave an entire pack of Bazooka under his pillow tonight. 

I’m Living in the Gap, chewing it up, care to join me in the comments?

Writing a book is like sliding down a rainbow! Marketing it is like trudging through a field of chewed bubble gum on a hot, sticky day. ~ Bette Davis

44 Comments

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  1. Bazooka Joe bubble gum was an American import in my youth that I really enjoyed for a few years. Along with the ‘American civil war news’ cards that came with gum. I still have that collection in the original collector’s book, a lifetime later. They gave me my lifelong interest in the US civil war, which started when I was very young.
    You sent me back doen Memory Lane today, Cheryl.
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Pete, Bazooka was a big part of my childhood too but I never had an interest in the civil war as a kid? That’s so cool that you still have the original collection. I remember a lot of kids collected baseball cards that came with bubble gum. My husband still has a collection. I wonder if either is worth something today? It seems as if no one is collecting things any more, as if the younger generation is more interested in things like TicTok, youtube, and Instagram? So glad to have sent down memory lane, I always enjoy those adventures. Hugs, C

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  2. This was just so perfect. The men add fodder to our stories the way the kids do, don’t they? Yet lately I’ve been holding back so much… 🤷‍♀️ Remind me to tell the story about the raging gimlet.😬

    You did that well, the lead in from gum to gas and boats and men and empty coffee cups. 😀

    Also, I know that gum, although I never has it as a kid in Switzerland. I did have it as a teen in Canada and completely forgot about the comic part!! Lol

    Always a pleasure to read you, Cheryl. 💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Claudette, you are the best, your words have me beaming with joy even though my cup is currently empty! I definitely want to hear about that “ranging gimlet,” because you are right kids and husbands add more fodder than we need (or want?). Thanks for the lovely comment! Hugs, C

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    1. Your grandmothers sounds a lot like mine, and I love that she worried about our gum habits. My grandmother gave me similar advice about apples, watermelon, and orange seeds but said a tree would grow in our stomachs if we dare swallow one. i don’t think she was right either. Thanks for joining me in the comment Dorothy! Hugs, C

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  3. Nopety nope, I could never cope with bubblegum or chewing gum, and even now can’t bear it when I see someone chewing gum in a movie, it’s so grotesque and yuckety. Maybe I have a phobia? Or am I just unsticky do you think? Glad Larry saw the error of his ways in the end 🙂

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    1. I’m so sorry Fraggle, you’re missing out on clarity, flavor, and blowing bubbles that smack you in the face, leaving you delightfully “sticky.” This might fit the definition of phobia, fear of loud smacking, but I think you are just too refined! My mother was not a fan until she discovered gum aids in weight loss and I have to say she got a little obsessed! And yes, there’s still hope for Larry! Hugs, C

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  4. Cheryl I am so happy to see the Bazooka gum! Loved that stuff too … and my mom hated me or anyone on the face of the earth chewing gum. She thought it so unclassy! Lololol. You’re a great wife because I’m pretty sure I would not have gone on the gas trip! I really enjoyed your thoughts on connections. It is so true that we all want to connect …. Some of us are better at it than others. Gonna work on trying to be the good kind of “sticky” ! Best Wishes Always! Leigh🥰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A few weeks back, with some “old” friends, we became embroiled in a discussion about our favorite candy as kids and just about all of us favored Bazooka Bubble Gum! So I figured it might resonate with others. Sounds like our moms had similar values when is came to the deportment of their daughters. It must have been a generational thing. Obviously I was struggling to bust out a post and continued to write as the drama I created unfolded. It seems as if our “sticky” connections is a work in progress. I’ll be working along side you. Hugs, C

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  5. Cheryl, you speak directly to my heart today. I worked behind a department store cosmetics counter at age 20 when I first heard the saying, “You look like a cow chewing its cud,” in connection to gum chewing. I wasn’t even chewing gum, but I won’t forget that.

    You took notes from Brené. Thank you! I took notes from you. Her definition on connection and thoughts on disconnection resonate. I appreciate you for sharing and will continue to ponder this post. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Crystal, oh my, how that “cow chewing its cud” thing got around. Delayed trauma is all I can say! Yes, I figured both you and Brene would appreciate my cliff notes on Atlas of the Heart, in fact the entire book is outstanding, and I barely scrapped the surface. I too could relation to her research on disconnection. That’s a tough one. Thanks for pondering with me, makes me feel so much less alone. Hugs, c

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  6. I loved Bazooka bubble gum when I was a kid. Somehow it brings back memories of being at the Country Club as a five year old learning to play golf. Also, my husband called me three times while I was trying to read your post and my son called once. Ugh!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’s amazing how something as simple as a piece of gum can illicit so many memories, especially when we were kids. Do you still play golf? I’m thinking about taking it up as my husband plays, and we thought it was something we could do it together (if we don’t kill each other first). Well, the one thing I know to be true, husbands, children, and pets are highly disruptive. Earplugs? Hugs, C

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      1. Disruptive is the word. I used to play golf with my dad once a week in Palm Desert. I was part of his foursome. That was pre-COVID, pre knee surgery due to falling skiing… My Palm Springs golfing buddy moved to Desert Mountain one mile away from us in Scottsdale and they live on a golf course. We used to play while our kids were in elementary and middle school in Palm Springs. She and her husband play every day on their courses where they live. But they said it costs $250 to bring a guest for one round!

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        1. Golf has the appearance of a great sport, you’re outdoors, walking, using your arms but those clubs? I’ve seen people throw them across the course after a bad shot! And you mention the obvious, it’s expensive! Many things to consider! 💕

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        2. I think it’s easier to learn when you’re a kid, just like skiing. But if that’s not an option, give it a try! I love being outside. It’s a great feeling to hit a good shot. I haven’t found a place to golf out here, but it’s on my to do list when things cool down.

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  7. Oh bubble gum! I was allowed to chew it in my childhood home, as long as my parents neither saw nor heard it. They could see me chewing – silently, with my mouth closed. But one pop or open mouth chomp and I was marched to the trash can to spit it out. Now I have jaw issues and can’t chew gum. Its ok – as you might guess, it was never much fun anyway! haha!

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    1. Hi Mama, that’s hysterical, you could chew but only in silence! How fun is that? Reminds me of the dictum for children to be seen but not heard. I never liked that too much as I was rather loud and energetic. Sorry about the jaw issues, I hope you can still eat a good steak, corn on the cob, and salt water taffy? Hugs my friend, C

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  8. Hey C,…I’m stuck on you! 💛I’m sticking by your side. I love Brene’ Brown and super happy to have a sticky connection with you. Oh boy! Those sticky disconnections are torture. They tried to stick to my soul like gum, but I’ve used enough peanut butter to get them out 🙃😀. I used to love Archie comic books and I know Bazooka gum well! I have gum in my purse, some in my car,…it’s been a necessity sometime. I do chew sugar free 😂. I giggle every time I read your posts. And I nod my head like a bobble head doll!! There have been times I though the animals had one up on us…some of us. But glad to know I can chew my gum and feel a bit better about myself. Your writing is brilliant. It always is! I love you dearly. You just stick! Sending love and hugs always! 💛❤️💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi my friend, I’m always thrilled to hear from you and love that we’re sticking together in this life. We need that, people that stay the course, even we our lives get derailed. The ones that will sit in the dark and hold my hand. Sometimes that’s all we need. I love that we have a mutual love of comic books and Bazooka and that this post brought a smile to your sweet face. Your words are always so kind and supportive and that means the world to me. Thank you, stay well, and as always I’m wrapping you in tender hugs and love, xxoo, C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. C, your response moved my soul. “The ones that will sit in the dark and hold my hand”. Simply beautiful. 💛 I’m so glad to know you and love you on this journey. You encourage and uplift my soul. Keep living your beautiful life! You’re a unique and needed soul! I love you! 💛💛🤗

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  9. Gum reminds me so much of when I was younger, I was always chewing gum back then but rarely ever do now. Your conversations with Larry always make me laugh!

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  10. Cheryl bubble gum reminds me of baseball cards. The maker of the cards would put a 1×2 inch strip of gum in each pack. You would chew as you sorted through a new pack. Keith

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    1. Keith, my husband still has his baseball card collection and some of them are mildly valuable today although I don’t notice the younger generation being interested in collections like we were? Maybe our collections will remain only valuable to us and the memories. Thanks so much for joining me in the comments. Hugs, C

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  11. I am sitting here lmao at this post. I can relate to the gum story, taking me back to my childhood days of gum stuck in my own hair because I fell asleep with a wad in my mouth. And your sticky disconnection with Larry, just made me LOL, poor Larry. And I know well of that ‘silent treatment’, it was very effective – no hurtful words, no words necessary, just a look was telling enough, lol. I love how your husband understands you – even when he doesn’t. My husband was so similar. I miss him tragically, but your Larry stories make me smile with fun memories. Thanks for the smiles Cheryl. Hugs. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Debby, it gives me such pleasure to think that something I wrote made you smile, maybe even giggle out loud! Priceless! I do believe our husbands had such similar characteristics which involved lots of laughter, gentle teasing, and radical love. This combination makes for the best of memories. I’m so sorry for your loss, for the grief that slips into your thoughts without warning, that feeling that shadows all other experiences. I’m so glad you are a writer because if you’re like me, that is how we process, heal, and recover from this roller coaster called life. Love and hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks so much Cheryl. I know how perceptive you are, after all, I was privy to some very special writing. ❤ I will say that your Larry reminds me a lot of my George. They were and are both men on missions, lol. Thanks for your big heart. ❤

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  12. Is that closing quote from Bette Dravis or Bette Davis? It certainly sounds like the latter. As for the Brene Brown sticky stuff, I’m still not sure I get it though it kinda sounds like what I was feeling at the end of my marriage. Does that sound right?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I misspelled that one, thanks for the catch, I’ll pop in and fix it. And you are spot on about the sticky connections, often used to manipulate our partners and friends. Can have both good and bad connotations. Hugs, C

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  13. When I worked in mental health, Cheryl, a big part of the job was helping clients feel seen and heard, and a big part of that was teaching communication skills and how to ask for what they needed. You and Larry clearly have it down. Lol. Entertaining and informative post, my friend. I’m glad to see that you two have the stickiness figured out. :-).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That must have been facinating work Diana and direly needed in our country. I think mental health is the most prevalent yet ignored issue today. If you’re struggling it’s almost impossible to figure out the system and get help. Having adults in your life that emulate good self care is an invaluable gift and one that can not be restored if you never had it. I just retired from teaching and I saw first hand how isolation and Zoom teaching took a toll on our youth. Thanks for sharing a piece of your history with me. Hugs, C

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  14. Larry definitely needs gum! LOL so funny when you wrote, “he said oh I got it”LOL
    Men are a mess.
    My mom used to say the same thing about losing like a cow, she always hated gum. However I love its and still do. I love to chew gum when I’m working out and writing.

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