I was at a youth media workshop on Saturday at a gallery/workspace in Chelsea with a dozen of my best freshman writers. Ebullient, contrary L was multitasking as usual, talking a mile a minute as she wielded a sharp pair of scissors and cut sheets of stickers.
“Ms. M knows I’m chewing gum or talking when she’s not even looking,” she said. My ears perked up. “She’ll be, like, at the board, and without turning around, she’ll be all, ‘L, stop talking.'”
“I know,” agreed D. “You go to the bathroom and she didn’t even see you put your gum in, and you come back, and she’s all, ‘D, spit it out.'”
“She’s got x-ray vision, man!” squealed E, who writes a blog about his kitchen.
And I was sort of mortified – wait, who am I kidding? It was one of the most satisfying affirmations I have ever received. To think I acquired a some kind of mother’s hyper-sensitivity to the Unlawful Activities of a Child; it’s like waking up with a superhero ability. I can spot gum-chewing from several yards away in my peripheral vision merely by reading the subtle movement of a teenage jaw!
Sometimes I see people on the street or in the subway chewing gum and I have to stop myself. “Cool it,” I say to myself. “This is real life, where chewing gum is actually not a crime.”