Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"A Mighty Wind"

I have always gotten stomachaches in libraries. A recent visit to one with my daughter, Anna, revealed that this, I’m guessing, uncommon condition has not gone away.

During my student years – a time substantially preceding the Internet – I went to libraries to do research for papers I was required to write for my various classes. It’s interesting. Just writing that last sentence, I felt the beginnings of a stomachache. Apparently, memories of me inside a library trigger colonic flashbacks. Yup, there’s another one.

I wondered why this phenomenon occurred. I was curious if it happened to others. But I never asked anyone. In case it didn’t.

I decided that the reason I got stomachaches in libraries was the awareness of the overwhelming disparity between the accumulated wisdom of the ages contained in the library, and how much I knew. This humbling thought literally turned my stomach.

I could never absorb all the information in the library. Or the tiniest fraction of it. I faced an Everest of information with a brain that at best might retain a handful of random grains of sand. Standing, utterly defeated, in this House of Ultimate Knowledge caused my gastric system to go into overdrive and spew acidic...

Okay, stop.

It’s a fine explanation. It really is. It makes sense, and, more importantly, it makes me look good. An overmatched Earlo hugging his tortured innards because of his daunting awareness of how much there is to know and how little of it he will ever comprehend. Very special indeed.

Too bad it’s not true.

What is? What’s the real reason I always get stomachaches in libraries?

The answer is very simple. Though, unfortunately, and I apologize for this, not that classy.

The real reason for my inevitable alimenteary discomfort in libraries is almost certainly this:

The real reason for my inevitable alimentary discomfort in libraries is almost certainly this:

The Fear of the Fart.


With silence comes

The Fear of the Fart.

And when you fear the fart,

The fart always comes.

So is revealed the true source of my anxiety:

The dread of making a loud noise in a very quiet place.

(Not the mention inappropriate and, generally, odiferous.)

You can’t stop it. You can’t tell yourself, “Don’t!” Once that seed’s planted in your mind (“You’re gonna do it.”), it’s done. You can’t ignore that thought. You can’t wipe it out. You are the walking embodiment of

The Fear of the Fart.

And when you fear the fart,

The fart always comes.

Everyone will hear it. Everyone will turn their heads. Everyone will see it was you. And everyone will be disgusted.

And there’s nowhere

To hide.

Anna’s searching the card catalogue for the books she requires. I desperately didn’t want to be there. But she’d asked me to accompany her, and I couldn’t say no. She’s been so kind to me recently, driving me to doctors’ appointments. I had to reciprocate. I had to go with her to the library. Even though I knew what would happen.

I try to control myself. Deep breathing and distracting thoughts. Attractive ladies are always good for that. Ooh, look. There are quite a few of them. Customers and librarians alike. My pulchritudinous diversion seems to be doing the trick. Until I remember those same attractive ladies will be witnesses to my shame.

Nobody likes a farter. Even if he’s cute.

We go upstairs, where the books Anna needs are located. So far, so good. I’m keeping things in check. Though it’s hardly clear sailing. I can feel the pressure beneath my belt.

Why do libraries have to be so quiet? I understand “not raucous.” We’re not talking Superbowl Madness. Quiet conversation. The airport waiting area, by the gate. People read there too. Nobody’s going, “Shhhh.”

Libraries demand total silence. For me, “Total” is way too much silence. The thought of, “What if I break it?” immediately springs to my mind. What if it’s me who destroys the silence? That’s the pressure I feel myself under. That’s my overpowering concern. That’s what ignites

The Fear of the Fart.

(And when you fear the fart,

The fart always comes.)

Anna’s picking out her books. I sense that my Moment of Truth is looming. My time is unquestionably running out.

And finally, it does.

But in a different way.

Not a fart. (We can be thankful for that.)

But the longest, loudest stomach rumbling since Mr. “Fat Bastard” exploded in that Monty Python movie.


Not once. But twice. The second one, if anything, louder.


Anna looked at me in dismay.


I shrugged sheepishly. There was nothing I could do. I was actually a little relieved. I had feared the fart. And though I had feared the fart, the fart had not come. Just…


Maybe I’m getting better.


Anonymous said...

I think you mean "Mr. Creosote."

Anonymous said...

but isn't Brrrrrrumblerumblerumble just a fart that hasn't yet gotten to the exit?

A. Buck Short said...

You think YOU had a problem? Lucky there was no actual egress this time. In a library where would you file something like that? Fortunately in similar situations I’ve always had my training in magic to fall back on. It’s all diversion, misdirection, secret compartments, blue smoke, mirrors, and occasionally the use of twins. Although I’ll admit there have been occasions when at least the blue smoke required some additional explanation.

MikeThe Blogger said...

Earl, resorting to fart jokes? You could be writing for Two and a Half Men. LOL! Hey, I just remembered, I used to study in that library - so it was YOU! LOL

Anonymous said...

Boy, did this bring back some bad memories. I started having stomach problems as a high school freshman. Early 70s, 10th grade, some class I cannot remember, we are sitting at our desks watching the 1958 version of Titanic, aka as "A Night To Remember". All of a sudden, no warning at all, KABOOM out of my posterior, I never felt it coming. If you remember those old desks, they had an opening underneath where you shoved your books...also great for acting as a giant amplifier. All you could hear after that was the sound of chairs scraping along the floor away from me. Soon as the movie was over, the teacher sent all the females out of the classroom [yeah, like girls never toot in public] and asked "OK, who did that?" Every guy in the classroom, pointed at me, he excused them and then proceeded to read me the riot act. His final sentence was "Only pigs do that", I didn't help my cause by going "oink". That was it, 200 minutes detention, kicked out of class for two weeks. It took my parents threatening a lawsuit for me just having a "natural body function" for them to drop everything. The Asst. Principal wouldn't let it drop though, everytime I had to go to the office he made me tell someone that hadn't heard yet what I did. He dropped it after he made me tell a guidance counselor who gave him a look like "you are a blithering idiot" then turned and said to me "You tooted that loud? Well tell me, did any of the girls pass out?" I was on the floor laughing in an instant, all he did was wink at me and walk out of the room. Never heard anything about it from the asst principal again. To this day, I still have a crummy digestive system which tends to let go at the most unfortunate times. I'd leave my name but I need to keep a little shred of my dignity.