Chewing tobacco is a filthy, disgusting, gross habit that I fantasize about constantly. These
fantasies usually involve intelligent women in bikinis telling me how much they appreciate
a man who can kiss them and still use a spit can at the same time.
Okay, I know no intelligent woman has ever said she cannot get enough of a man with a
beechnut or minty flavored tobacco mouth, but it is my fantasy so let me have it.
I have not chewed since there was a smart Bush in the Oval Office, but if I found out that I
had terminal cancer, three months to live, no hope, the first thing I would do is drive as
quickly as I could to be with the one I love, chew.
Smokeless tobacco, chew, dip, snuff, a rose by any other name is still a rose, but who wants
to put a rose between their cheek and gum.
I grew up in an era where almost everyone I knew dipped. So, it was no big deal. Clint
Eastwood had made chewing tobacco glamorous in movies like The Outlaw Josey Wales.
Well, it was not really glamorous, but what boy did not think it was cool to spit on
scorpions and other people’s boots.
There were not many scorpions to be found in Midwest cornfields and you really did not
want to stain someone else’s white Nikes. So, mainly you just spit and if you were really
lucky it hit the ground.
My spit, more often than not, ended up on my shirt rather than anything I aimed at. Try
explaining brown stains on your shirt when you are a junior in high school to your mother
when she is attempting to wash your clothes.
I chewed because I was in sports and worked in the cornfields in the summers and did not
want cottonmouth. Mainly, I chewed because I enjoyed it.
Now something should have told me to quit chewing within a few months of when I
started, especially when I never had enough money to turn it into a full fledged habit. That
something had a name, Beth, and she was the prettiest girl in my class, maybe even the
Now, I was pretty sure she thought my name was “you, yeah, you,” but I guess she actually
knew who I was. Not only that, but she had decided I was going to take her to one of the
I was pretty clueless about all of this until she physically met me at the gymnasium doors
where the dance was being held. It was not because she was subtle. I was clueless about
pretty much everything. Probably still am.
Pulling me into the cloakroom, she adjusted my collar, smoothed my hair out in a couple of
places, tucked my shirt tail in here and there, and sighed like she knew it was a losing
We then danced the night away. Well, she danced. I kind of jerked sporadically and
showed how it was possible to every single beat. I even got to put a dip in when I took a
A beautiful girl in a white dress. Me trying not to fall over my feet. Tobacco goodness.
Except the only problem is there were a lot of slow dances and I suffered from the same
physical malady that most teenager boys suffered from. A malady that could be
embarrassing to a young female, especially when she is pressed up against a boy.
My best friend told me the best solution for such a condition is to bite one’s lip. The pain
makes it so unpleasant that it takes a boy’s mind off their malady and no problems arise.
And she smelled great, felt great, all soft and stuff. The better she felt in my arms the
harder I bit into my lip. Halfway through the evening I had a mouth full of blood and
tobacco spit. I became the strong, silent type.
Now dancing is a great workout and at the time, I had a David Letterman/Alfred E.
Newman-type gap between my upper front teeth. Still do. Despite the heavy breathing as I
bit my lip, which I worried what she must have thought about this teenage boy breathing
deeply into her ear, it was the perfect evening.
I even thought that maybe a miracle would happen and a loser like myself could end up
with the most beautiful girl in school. It would be a story legend that socially awkward
teenagers would tell each other for decades.
The last dance ended. It was like a scene out of John Hughes film. We held hands. I looked
into her eyes. No words were exchanged. Our fingers slipped apart as we parted. The lights
came up. She was mine.
Best moment ever… At least until she turned to walk away and I noticed the back of her
dress was covered flecks of blood and tobacco spit. In my mind, it looked like a Jackson
Pollack painting. At that moment I knew, she was pretty much never going to talk to me
Later, I chewed in college when I pulled all-nighters and later when I made the twenty-six
hour drive to Las Vegas or the twenty-hour drive to Atlanta. A person cannot fall asleep
with a mouth full of spit.
One word of advice, make sure you are awake enough to notice whether your window is
rolled down or not if you decide to chuck your chew cup out it as your cruising through
Kentucky at 2 a.m. It is kind of hard to explain that minty tobacco smell on your next date
and why your driver’s side door looks like a Rorschach test.
“And what do you see in this blot?”
“Pretty much someone who is going home alone tonight.”
I don’t remember the first time I chewed, but I do remember working in the cornfields
when another kid asked three of us why we did not need to get a drink of water constantly.
I handed him my pouch and told him to take a big chaw. At the time, the color green he
turned about twenty minutes later was hilarious.
Some things are funny until that person became an Ames police officer a few years later.
There were a few years when I lived in fear of being pulled over and asked “who’s funny
now?” as I get tasered and then reenact a Three Stooges routine all by myself.
So what made me quit this disgusting, gross, heavenly habit?
I would love to say it was because I lived with a roommate who was so addicted to this
habit that he would sleep with a chew in. His lip would quiver when he took his pinch of
tobacco out of his mouth.
He was a good ol’ boy from Arkansas, and I just figured that along with Chitlins and a rebel
flag, chewing tobacco was given to every male child just after their birth by their pa. Plus, it
gave me someone to bum some off of if I ran out of money.
I would love to say it was because I had kicked over his chew cup several times when
walking through the dark living room in my bare feet. Yep, all that tobacco goodness
between my toes. All that did was make me lose our cleaning deposit. It did not cause me to
stop chewing. When you are young and dumb, you are young and dumb.
There were the times after too many adult beverages I would mix up the beer can I was
drinking from with the can I was spitting into. Yes, this happened more than once. And, yes,
it might be grossest thing ever. On the positive side, I was drinking Keystone Light while
broke. So, the contents of the chew cups probably tasted better.
I stopped the disgusting habit after one night in a bar in Atlanta. I had pulled out my pouch
to take a dip. Just as I was placing a wad of tobacco between my cheek and gum, one of the
most beautiful women I had ever seen walked up to me.
I thought, “Yes.”
She looked at me. I looked at her. She smiled. I smiled. She opened her mouth and said, “Can
I have a dip?” Without an answer from me, she took the tobacco bag out of my hands,
dipped her gorgeous fingers into the contents, and put in a lip full. In that instant, she went
from Bo Derek’s better looking sister to the most disgusting creature I ever witnessed.
I then thought, “Well, that is kind of sexist. Maybe are some women that don’t like a man
with a bump in his lip. If it was disgusting for a woman to chew, it might well be the same
Somewhere out there is one of the most beautiful women to ever walk this planet. I would
love to see her again, put her hand in mine, look deeply into her eyes, and just say thanks.
She would respond, “Waa, aannnkkk uuuuu.” Because she is probably missing part of her
lower lip and tongue.