Are you the kind of person who can walk & chew gum at the same time? I ask in all seriousness because I am apparently no longer in this category. I once possessed this super-power up until a few years ago, then somehow lost said skill.

And by “walk & chew gum” I mean “[do anything] & chew gum.” It’s a metaphor, you see, or at least the first half is. I don’t literally mean walking, although that can cause the same problems that anything else does. It’s the chewing gum part that’s one-hundred percent literal. I can do lots of other things in combination, three and four at a time, even, but throw gum-chewing into the mix and all the important motor skills get short-circuited. I can’t explain it.

This is almost enough to make me give up chewing gum. I still can, by the way. Gnashing away at a big, gooey gob of gum all day long isn’t the problem; splitting my attention between chewing gum and writing a short note, or reading a book, or, y’know, walking is where I run into problems. So it’s not that I’ve unlearned how to chew gum.

I wonder if that’s ever happened to anyone? I don’t see why it couldn’t. There have been plenty of times I’ve gotten up and walked all the way across the house from the living room to my bedroom and, by the time I got there, forgotten what made me want to go there in the first place. Don’t tell me this hasn’t happened to you. So how would it be far-fetched to imagine someone might unwrap a stick of gum, stick it in his mouth, then forget what comes next?

Great. Something else I can worry about.

The upshot of all this drivel is, when I absently put a stick of gum in my mouth while doing almost anything else, I invariably end up biting myself. If I bit other people as much as I’ve bitten myself while being distracted by the wad of chewing gum I was working over, I’d have long ago been put down like a rabid pit bull. You’d think that kind of negative feedback would give a guy plenty of incentive not to chew gum at all, but I keep popping it in my mouth anyway. I don’t want to guess what a shrink would make of that.

So: Is the tingly fresh feeling of chewing gum worth the piercing agony and fat lip I get from being an absent-minded klutz? I’ll answer that as soon as I remember what brought up the question.