I took the bus up from Portland to Seattle last week to visit friends. Having finished first breakfast (no one needs to know about that meal, although most of my friends will just assume it occurred), I went for a walk through downtown Seattle until it was time to meet my friends for (second) breakfast. During my walk, I passed one of my favorite sites, the Market Theater Gum Wall.
Before I can say anything about the Gum Wall, my friend Max has pestered me to say a word or two about gum. Max, you may remember, is rather darkly written, and as before, he has asked me not to apologize in advance. I give you Max.
It should surprise no one that I have a few pet peeves. To name just a few –
- People who don’t use their turn signal. They should not be allowed to drive. The turn signal is not for you, the driver. It’s for everyone you didn’t see. It’s only obvious to you that you are about to turn. Use your signal; I need to know that you know what you are doing.
- People who text at the gym. Really? You need to text while working out? It doesn’t count toward your workout, just so you know.
- Adults who chew gum. It’s never okay to smack, to snap, to pop your gum. I’ll give a pass to the rare adult who can chew gum discreetly, but the rest of you – just stop. If you need to freshen your breath, try a mint or better yet try flossing regularly. I wouldn’t rank gum chewing ahead of picking your nose, but it is on par with undoing a wedgie. Both may feel necessary, but both require discretion.
I won’t even go into how gum gets onto sidewalks (do the people who spit gum out never step into gum?); instead, I will return you to PFM.
Despite Max’s request, if it weren’t for gum-chewing adults there would be no Market Theater Gum Wall. The theater is located in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. The market opened in 1907 with eight farmers and 10,000 customers. The first of the market’s buildings opened later in 1907 with every stall filled. The idea was to connect customers directly with the farmers. Today nearly 100 farmers rent table space by the day and there are also year-round businesses and artisans, along with street performers.
The theater is home to Unexpected Productions, a comedy improve troupe. The story is that in 1993, theater goers stuck gum on the wall and placed coins in the gum. The wall was cleaned several times, but in 1999 market officials decided it was a tourist attraction and so it stuck (some puns force themselves upon us).
The Market Theater Gum Wall is just a baby compared to Bubblegum Alley in San Luis Obispo, California. Bubblegum Alley appeared sometime either just after WWII when a local high school graduating class made an event of sticking gum on the wall or later in the 1950s by Cal Poly students who felt they were being outdone by the high school (which would suggest the high school tradition was first).
I didn’t know about Bubblegum Alley until I started to write this post about the Market Theater Gum Wall, so that begs the question – how many gum walls are out there?