The Science Of SpitPatrick Lancer, Saturday September 30th, 2006
Spitting has become an interest of mine over the last two or three years of my life. This is the opposite of what most people expect, because most Americans may tolerate spitting from an eleven year old, but not from a high school senior. And by “interest” I mean I spit when I am monotonously walking along a street or when I am in a position where my spit may produce interesting results. I do not, however, spend my days milling around and spitting into buckets or anything. Spit is not that interesting. I am not a sicko.
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I have found that spitting is a science, and a rather complex one at that. It is a two part process that takes skill and intelligence to master and as well as generally good judgment insure the safety of you and those around you.
The first part of the process takes most of the skill, and is not so much common sense as it is instinct. Making a good loogie is an art. It is, in fact, not unlike painting. And I am, in fact, not unlike the Monet of spitting. Loogies, for those who are not familiar with the term, is a mass of spit. They can range from the size of rain drops to the size of cherries, maybe even grapes. And, maybe unlike art, bigger is always better. Loogies are sometimes produced by a process called “hocking.” I will not go much into it, but you maybe able tell by the sound of the word that hocking is a violent and unpleasant action. I choose not to do it, because I believe art should have a flowing smoothness about it. No hocking here. The Chinese, on the other hand, have mastered the art of hocking and spitting loogies onto the street. Any visitor to Beijing should take part in the custom, for, as I mentioned earlier, adult spitting is usually frowned upon in the United States. Moving on, once you find your own groove and can create loogies, spitting becomes a lot more interesting. When beginning, spit may come out as spray or in several small loogies, but if you keep with it you’ll be an artist in no time.
The second part of spitting is less like an art and more like a science. Actually, for the most part, it is a science. Physics, to be exact. Physics is what makes spitting beautiful. If loogies are the art, then physics is the showcase. For starters, gravity is amazing. One of the highlights of my spitting career was enjoyed from the top of the Eiffel Tower. The hour long lines were waited with the sweet anticipation of lobbing one right onto the Champs De Mars. Other notable heights from which I have spat are Giotto’s bell tower at the Duomo in Firenze, the tower at la Piazza del Campo in Siena, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Watching the wind take my saliva away is the most rewarding experience. But wind can become a problem. Case in point: I was on a ferry on a fairly windy night crossing the Straight of Messina. I was with a friend leaning over the railing of the boat enjoying the swift breeze. I decide, without much forethought, to spit out into the water. Poor girl. She did not even know what hit her, except that it was wet. I was laughing hysterically as she held her composure, switched to my other side, and (maybe even without the assistance of the wind) proceeded to spit in my face.
Now, this being the first entry on “Overdue Karma”, I think it is appropriate to describe how the name came to me. I was recently enjoying my last summer day with some friends at the county fair. Spitting off of amusement park rides is a particularly interesting application of the loogie. The Ferris-Wheel yielded predicable results, much like towers and cliffs, the loogie fell. Probably, much to my amusement, on a person waiting in line for the ride. Bad Karma. On rides like the Swinging Ship, I was smart enough not to release the spit until I was facing downward. The spit fell, but probably not fast enough to avoid being “scooped up” by the ship and landing on an innocent body. Bad Karma. On the Swing ride, the centrifugal force pulled the spit out and away, not to be seen by me again. Daring. I was sitting with two friends in one of the seats of the “scrambled eggs” type ride. It keeps you flat on the ground but spins you on two axis, you get the picture. Anyway, with my basic physics knowledge, I opted to sit in the place where I would not be crushed by the other two people when the forces took effect. Much like the Swing ride my spit was pulled outward. Unlike the Swing ride, there was a friend sitting beside me. I should have observed from the Ferry that when you spit in someone’s face, it usually comes back to you. My friend did not return fire, so I figured I was good to go. What I did not realize was that my Karma was overdue. We boarded the “Gravitron”, the ride that looks like an alien saucer and spins around, pulling everything to the wall. As the ride picked up speed I was glued with my back to the wall, facing the center of the ride. I spat. Yah folks… It came right back at me.