Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Quirks in common - the ice chewing connection

I chew ice.

It drives my brother, who inherited super hearing from somebody, up a wall. He can hear me from another room. The way other people chew gum (and, for the record, I also chew a lot of gum), I chew ice. Where other people might fill a glass with water and add an ice cube or two, I fill my glass up with ice cubes and sometimes add some water, if there's room. I find it refreshing. And soothing. My friends, like my brother, find it annoying. My best friend has been making fun of me for this quirk for more than 20 years now.

For awhile, I tried to break the habit, but my brother and friends will be disappointed to know that it's become something I kinda cherish, as it turns out my ice chewing quirk is something I have in common with my grandmother, Helen Stutzmann Gorry.

I never knew she did it, but I was chewing a glass full of ice in front of my father one day, when he turned to me and said, "Are you chewing that ice?" Expecting to be lectured, I nonetheless told him that yes, I was, to which he replied, "My mother used to do that."

I have since discovered that this is a quirk I also share with two of my cousins on that same side of the family. And it reminded me of another quirk of mine, sleeping with one leg hanging off the side of the bed, which my father said is something somebody in his family used to do (and reminds me that I should ask him if he remembers who that person is).

I think we all want to be unique. We don't want to be just like everybody else. But I think we all want to feel connected to other people, too. Just like my physical features or the photos I have in my album, personality traits connect us to the people in our families. Whenever I chew ice, I think about my grandmother, who died 7 years ago, and I think about who in her family tree she might have been like with that particular quirk, and I make sure I write this connection down, so that someday it won't just be a connection to past generations, but will be a connection to future generations as well.


  1. Mary Ellen Tormey Gorry was the one who slept with her foot off the bed (or at least out of the covers). I also sleep with a foot exposed.

  2. My mom and I chew ice too!! -Brenden