You for Real?

Nate Hipple

My friend hates spitting.

“It’s utterly disgusting,” he tells me, “and perfectly rude.”

Whenever he sees somebody spit in public, he can’t eat lunch. His appetite vanishes at the sight of freshly haocked loogies and long, glistening goober strands. Spittle oozes down the walls of my friend’s nightmares.

“Barbarians spit,” he says, “and llamas if they’re provoked.”

He is absolutely furious with spitters, yet remains unbothered by sneezers.

Sneezes sneak into the back of your throat like a silent assassin. Never fight a sneeze. A firmly muzzled sneeze has enough force to blow the lid off the human skull.

Conspiracy theorists note the possibility that John Wilkes Booth may have simply covered Lincoln’s mouth and sprinkled a few shakes of pepper into his nose, but back to the subject of spitting.

My friend is also a sports fan, so he attends a number of City College athletic events. Surely it would be acceptable to spit during, say, a baseball game?

My friend thinks not.

He tells me the tragic story of Marcus, the little leaguer who wandered down to the ballpark one afternoon for a baseball game.

Marcus saw something he shouldn’t have that day. At the mound, his favorite first-baseman spat a wad of tobacco juice that floated hypnotically to earth in slow-motion jumbo-vision, shimmering in the sunlight like a brown miracle.

Suddenly, the batter clocked a beautiful homer into the upper deck and the crowd went nuts.

In the boy’s young mind, chewing tobacco was exactly like Popeye’s spinach. Marcus salivated like a Pavlovian dog at the idea.

The first-baseman, unaware he’d accidentally endorsed nicotine to a 9-year-old, discharged several victory squirts as he rounded the bases.

After the game, Marcus bought his first pack of Big League Chew bubble gum. By the sixth grade, little Marcus packed his lips daily with the real stuff; extra-strength chewing tobacco.

Within a few years, cancerous tumors popped out of Marcus’ gums as freakish as the sight of Jurassic Park dinosaurs who spray blinding arcs of venom into the eyes of their victims.

Consequently, Marcus never played high school baseball. All of his extra-curricular time was consumed with chemotherapy and speech therapy.

“You think nobody’s watching,” my friend warns me, “but you have no idea.”

Later, I asked him if the story about Marcus was true or if he’d made the whole thing up.

He put his hand on my shoulder and swallowed. “There’s a little truth in every story,” he told me.

So the next time you get the urge to spit, even if you’re playing ball, or chewing flavorless gum, or riding in a convertible when a bug hits you in the teeth, please just swallow it, for Marcus.