Wednesday, November 28, 2018

COLUMN: Spit


I'm never here to dispense gross-out humor, mostly because I'm easily grossed out myself. I prefer to eat my cookies rather than toss them. But we are human beings, and we need to admit that a lot of things human beings do are inherently gross. That still doesn't mean I want to think or write about it. When it comes to matters of basic bodily functions, my general rule of thumb is: Whatever happens in the restroom stays in the restroom -- unless it needs to be flushed far away from said restroom. Whatever you do in there is your own business.

Of course, some restrooms are public, and that's where it gets sticky (hopefully not literally.) Whenever I go into a crowded restroom, I do my very best to stare at my shoes and pretend I'm the only one there. But if you're being gross, sometimes it's hard to ignore you. And yes, that goes for you, green-shirted guy from last weekend. Don't think I didn't see you shuffle past me in the restroom, do your duty, and then go high-five your bro's -- without washing your hands.

Lately, I've had the misfortune of noticing another trend in the bathroom. It's disgusting, but we need to dive into this one just a little bit. I promise I will do my very best NOT to gross you out, but we need to have a quick, tasteful heart-to-heart -- about saliva.

Saliva shouldn't be gross. Most animals produce it, and with all due apologies to John Merrick, we are nothing if not animals. Saliva helps us chew and swallow, lets us taste food, fights germs, and prevents our teeth from decaying. Birds use it to make nests. Cats use it to groom. We let our dogs slobber all over the place without a care in the world. Heck, when we find someone we like, one of the first things we try to do is mix saliva. It's a part of life.

Then why is it so disgusting to watch someone spit on the ground? I swear to you, nearly every time I'm in a public restroom, some dude comes in and hocks a wad of spit on the ground or in the urinal or toilet. I first started noticing it a few months ago, and now I can't NOT notice it. Any time my public bathroom space gets invaded, I brace myself for the inevitable hack-n-spit, and it usually ALWAYS happens.

And it's not just bathrooms. Pay attention the next time you're out on the weekend -- you're bound to catch some guy spitting on the ground like it's no big thing. I swear to you all, if you go to the gas station by my house, you can look at the parking lot and see clear evidence of spitters of yore. Everywhere I go, spittle can be found.

Maybe I shouldn't say anything? Is it some testosterone-fueled guy thing? Am I betraying the man club by complaining here? Nope. I used to work with a couple girls who I'd see spitting on the ground every time their shift ended. Spitting is a hobby of equal opportunity crassness. Just try it in Singapore. If you get caught spitting there, it's a $1500 fine.

It isn't the grossness of spitting that worries me, though. What worries me is that I clearly must be broken.

I've never once felt the urge to spit on the ground. I'm pretty sure I've never done it. I'm not even sure I know HOW to do it. It's just something I've never had want nor need to do. I've never once thought, "Man, I could sure use a good spit right about now." Am I just being civil? Or is there something wrong with me?

The other day, I brought up this nonsense to a close friend.

"Can you believe how many people these days just spit on the ground?"

I was expecting one of our usual we're-better-than-everyone-else moments. Instead, he replied, "What, you've never just spit on the ground?"

"No!" I said, aghast. "Do you?"

"A few times a day, I guess," he replied to my shock and horror. "So what do you do when you feel the need to spit?"

As God is my witness, I have never felt the need to spit. If my nose gets plugged, I blow it. If my throat gets a tickle, I clear it with a cough. None of these events have ever made me want to spit, publically or otherwise.

This is worrisome. I just read that the average human produces between 2 to 4 pints of saliva per day. If apparently everybody in the world is spitting theirs out on a regular basis, WHERE IS MINE GOING? Am I going to keel over of acute saliva intoxication? It's no secret I've put on some unwanted weight over the past few years... OR HAVE I? Maybe I'm just carrying an extra hundred pounds of unused saliva. It wouldn't surprise me -- people have often told me that I'm full of spit (or something like that, at least.)

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