Finally, I asked him about it.
“I like to have something in my mouth to chew on while I’m working,” he explained.
“Why a coffee stirrer?” I asked.
“Why not?” he answered.
Before too long, I ventured to put a plastic stirrer in my own mouth, and I was hooked. I keep five or six spare stirrers in my backpack at all times, and whenever I sit down at my computer, I pop one in my mouth.
I don’t actually chew on it much, I just hold it between my teeth, but somehow it does help me concentrate. I’ve never particularly liked chewing gum, but I know that gum helps some people concentrate. It must be the same principle. Putting the stirrer in my mouth is also a sign to myself that I’m sitting down to work, so it has a ritualistic value, too.
The Big Man and I have a lot of odd habits between us. I’m an inveterate hair-twister and hair-puller. The Big Man pats his head (not as strange-looking as it sounds) and gnaws on plastic pen caps. Those, unlike the plastic stirrers, he really chews up.
I’m sure all these behaviors are tied together in some way. Now that I write them down, they sure make us sound weird — like little pair of gerbils. Oh well, we’re happy.
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