A lot of us rednecks who walk around with toothpicks hanging out of our mouths are doing so in order to keep from lighting up a cigarette. All you really want is something to hold in your hand, isn't it? This is why a toothpick works better than chewing gum. (Unless, of course, you are one of those folks who pull the gum out and actually play with it.)

Last night we went to a campfire lecture by one of the rangers. Cindy was there, and she came over to sit beside Midge and me.

The lecture was about the redwoods and how many thousands of years it takes one to grow to full size. There are very few left as most of them have been cut down by lumber companies and sawed up into boards. I thought the talk was very interesting, and at least Cindy kept quiet while the ranger was talking. The minute he stopped, though, she began. She went on and on about how awful it was to destroy a beautiful thing like a redwood tree until I was hoping one would fall on her. Midge was tired of listening to her, too, but there wasn't much we could do unless we wanted to leave and miss the second half of the talk.

"I think they're big ungainly trees," Midge said, just to be different. "They should be made into toothpicks. Just think of all the poor people in the world who haven't any toothpicks, and these trees would supply them."

Henry Reed's Journey by Keith Robertson

Peter Ungar, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Arkansas, claims to have found evidence of toothpick use at Olduvai Gorge. Scanning electron analysis of a 1.8 million year old tooth discovered by the colleagues of Mary Leakey found tiny parallel lines repeated along the edges of the tooth. In his opinion, the size, shape and orientation of the grooves are evidence of someone trying to shove something narrow into a small space between their teeth. Ungar presented his findings at the American Association of Physical Anthropology in April, 2000.


A large stick. An ironical expression.

The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

Tooth"pick` (?), n.

A pointed instument for clearing the teeth of substances lodged between them.

<-- esp., a slim sliver of wood, about two inches in length, tapering to a point at both ends, and used for removing food particles from between the teeth after a meal. -->


© Webster 1913.

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