Like most “users” I started out very young in my chewin’ life. I was around nine years old when I got my first taste of tobacco.
I remember it like it was yesterday. My mom and I were stringin’ beans and there was a baseball game on the TV. I was sittin’ in the floor and the urge hit me that I really wanted a chew. My friends and I had been talkn’ about it for some time but none of us had yet mustered up the courage to take the plunge.
A member of my family chewed Mammoth Cave Twist, I had access to it, I knew I could talk my mom into lettin’ me try it, and I really wanted it, or at least I thought I did. Almost all the adults around me used some sort of tobacco, either chewin’ it or smokin’ it, and to me it seemed like a big deal, somethin’ I was supposed to be doin’, it just seemed a natural thing to do.
So, I brought the subject up to mom, gently at first of course. After several minutes of deliberation, beggin’ and pleadin’, and downright stubbornness, I won the battle. Needless to say, I was very happy with myself that I had talked her into lettin’ me take this first giant step into adulthood, to my way of thinkin’ at least.
Now, if you’ve never chewed, or even really given it much thought, different brands of tobacco have different “strengths” and flavors. Some are mild and smooth, some are downright evil. Mammoth Cave falls somewhere between the two extremes.
Well, I grabbed up the twist that was layin’ on the table and, like I had seen my family member do, I broke off a pretty big hunk and popped it in my mouth, placin’ it just so in my jaw like I had seen done by the pros. I knew not to swallow it, I knew I had to spit the juice out and not get it anywhere near my eyes (that stuff burns like the dickens). What I didn’t know was when to actually chew it or to let it rest.
I was feelin’ purty good about myself, I mean, after all, here I was with a big ole chew in ,my mouth, I was really doin’ it and it wasn’t so bad, aside from the slight burnin’ sensation in my jaw and the unfamiliar feelin’ of havin’ somethin’ sittin’ in my jaw and not chewin’ it up and swallowin’ it like food.
Every so often my mom would ask how I was feelin’, and of course the answer every time was, “I’m feelin’ just fine mom”. I had my spit can sittin’ near by like all the other fellow tobacco chewers and I was just chewin’ away, stringin’ beans and watchin’ the ball game. I was a happy camper ’cause I was now in the ranks of the adults.
Then it hit me. It came out of nowhere like a thief in the night. I started gettin’ a little dizzy, a small sweat broke out on my forehead and I started wonderin’. It was about this time that a smile appeared on my moms face, yes, a smile. How dare her just sit there and smile at my discomfort.
I bravely announced that I had got all I could get out of this chew and spit it out, thinkin; that would be the end of the dizzy spell and all would return to normal. I was wrong, to say the least. The longer I sat there the worse it got, even several minutes after gettin’ rid of it. To my mom’s amusement, and against my will, I told her I wasn’t feelin’ too good. She innocently asked me in that sweet motherly voice they have if I was ok and if not to go lay down (it was near bedtime anyway), so I took her up on her offer and went to bed.
What nobody had bothered to tell me and somethin’ I had never paid any attention to, was the fact that you need to rinse your mouth out after spittin’ a chew out. Needless to say, I didn’t rinse my mouth out, which in turn caused me to swallow the remainin’ juice that was left in my mouth, which in turn caused me to just get sicker and sicker the longer I laid in the bed. At one point I opened my eyes and the dresser that was in my immediate field of view was spinnin’ around at an alramin’ rate. At this point in my misery, I hollered at mom, wonderin’ if this would ever stop. She assured me that it would and told me to go rinse my mouth out and drink some water and asked me if I thought I would ever try chewin’ again, to which I answered a mighty NO!
Of course that wasn’t the case, I ended up tryin’ a different brand of tobacco that was smoother and tasted better and I was hooked, but that wasn’t a big surprise to my mom or to me.
In hindsight I can say that I wish I had never taken that second chew. I wouldn’t have wasted so much money, my teeth would be in much better shape and I wouldn’t be dependent on it. But, such as everything in life, it is a lesson learned and one which I am still apparently learnin, cause I’m still chewin’ and still bein’ a hillbilly.
Thanks for readin’.