Blowing Bubbles in North Korea


We could end the mess with North Korea right now if only Kim Jong-il would allow his successor son, Kim Jong-un, to chew gum. Rumor has it that the 22-year-old future leader of North Korea was punished at his Swiss boarding school for blowing bubbles in class and for not disposing of his gum in a proper manner.

When Daddy Dictator heard about it, he was not pleased. Like teens everywhere, Kim Jong-Un was admonished for disposing of his stale, chewed-up gum by placing it under his desk, under his chair, under his bed. Just like in high schools all around the world, it was probably another teen who ratted him out; perhaps the jealous son of another dictator.

Just like one of my high school classmates who squealed on Danny Anderson. When Mr. Whipple, our Sophomore Algebra teacher, stepped out of the room for a minute, Danny blew a huge pink translucent bubble which popped and splayed all over his face, making him look like a gargoyle. Mr. Whipple turned scarlet when he returned in time to see Danny feverishly trying to peel off the gum. He threw him out of class.

Just like when someone ratted me out in Junior English class because I dared to chew a teensy-tiny piece of Doublemint. What that person didn’t know was that I was secretly pleased to land in the detention room. I was tired of being Miss Goody Two Shoes, the Nice Girl, The Suck Up. Finally, my reputation was tarnished. 

I have fond memories of all the gum I chewed as a kid. When I was five, I started pestering Johnny Muhleman, the elderly caretaker of the Methodist church next door, while he was outside trimming the hedge. I LOVED to talk to him, and, bless his heart, he loved to listen. Better yet, he always gave me a piece of Dentyne gum. I looked forward to that tangy cinnamony taste.

I loved Dubble Bubble, though, even more than Dentyne. First, for the waxed-paper cartoon in which it was wrapped. Second, for the sugary, sickeningly-sweet taste. Third, for the bubbles; and fourth, for the fact that it stuck real good to my brother’s hair.

Unfortunately, I paid a price for all those years lost to sugar, and unwittingly funded the college education of many a dentist’s child. I stopped chewing gum altogether in my twenties when I realized that it was causing some of those old mercury amalgams to fall out. I didn’t start up again until a year ago when my current dentist recommended a special dental gum containing xylitol. She said it stimulated the production of saliva which helps cut down on cavities. Now that my dental work is more secure, I can give my teeth and gums a good workout again.

I’m hoping that after his strict father dies, Kim Jung-Un will return to his beloved habit of chewing gum — for all our sakes. I was delighted to read on the website, that chewing gum is good for a person in many ways. It improves memory, alertness and concentration, and it reduces stress. It also helps by speeding up the heartbeat and blood pressure “just enough to wake up both left and right hemispheres to work together.” And, isn’t that what we all want — a well-integrated and stress-free dictator? 

I’ve been to the DMZ, stood in the blue building in Panmunjon, the site of the Armistice that ended fighting in the Korean War. I’ve looked through binoculars at the stark cement North Korean building, Panmun-Gak, a few yards away, and was startled to see a North Korean soldier staring at me through his binoculars. Definitely in need of gum.

If I were Hillary Clinton, I would busy myself by preparing the following diplomatic cable (which, of course, will end up on WikiLeaks): 

“Dear (We-Hope-You-Are-Not-As-Crazy-As-Your-Father) Kim Jung-Un:

“As you know, we have been thinking about bombing the heck out Pyongyang, but have decided instead to give you one more chance. In the interests of international peace and good will, we are sending by special envoy (i.e. a B-52 bomber) a ton of your favorite chewing gum. You can expect the skies to rain Dubble Bubble tomorrow.

“So, are we good? 

“Yours in harmony and mental health,

“Hillary Rodham Clinton

“Secretary of State for the United States of America.”

Rosie Sorenson of Richmond, Calif., is a recovering psychotherapist and a contributor to Foolish Times.

From The Progressive Populist, January 1-15, 2011

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