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The Hot Seat

Things you should know before you read this essay:
Number of times the word "fart" is used: 20 (including this one)
Number if times Tony Danza* is mentioned: 2 (including this one)

I am working this week in the accounting department of a large company. Lame. I don’t know what I was thinking, taking an accounting job. Numbers have never been my thing, really... I mean, I still count on my fingers. And if I want to count to twenty, I have to take my shoes and socks off. To count to twenty-one, well… you know.  I have to use my calculator.

I don’t know what you were thinking. Perv.

I get back from a record thirty-seven minute break and notice that my in-box is overflowing with a huge pile of boring work. I let out a deep, mournful sigh, but unfortunately, I neglect to open my mouth during this act, and, as a result, the sigh is forced out through my pressed lips. If you've ever sighed through pressed lips yourself, you will notice that the air escaping and the flapping of the lips, against their will, sounds remarkably like a long, loud fart.

Making a farting noise with your mouth is not always a problem; often, you can even get a few laughs from such an sound. Of course, you can also get laughs by actually farting, but unless you are surrounded by close friends or loved ones, I wouldn't recommend it. You might get a few titters, but for the most part, people won't embrace the event the way they would about, say, a joke involving a rabbi and horny muskrat.

Most of the time when farting in the workplace there will be only silence, which is the worst reaction of all, not just in terms of embarrassment, but in the uncertainty factor. Did they hear? Do they know? Will they tell? The next several minutes will be spent self-consciously searching the faces of those present for any clue that they heard the offending emission.


I make this noise with my mouth, this loud fart noise. I am not alone; the woman I share the office with is sitting at her desk with her back to me. This is bad. If she did hear the mouth-fart, she definitely didn't see the manner in which it is produced, which means she probably will go ahead and assume that it came out of the offensive end of my torso (okay, the more offensive end of my torso) and not my mouth.

This is one of those lame situations wherein one can't say what one really wants to say: a simple statement that would clear everything up. I can't simply say, "I didn't fart, that came out of my mouth," or "That was a sigh, it just sounded like a fart." It's just not possible to say that to someone you don't know very well. The way I see it, I only have one option. I must show her that the fart noise came from my mouth. 

This is going to be difficult, I know, because she is still not facing me, and I'm not certain that a barrage of fart noises coming from directly behind her is going to make her turn around. If she is an extremely polite type of person, she may pretend not to notice. She also may simply bolt from the office, in which case I'd have to follow her while making the fart noise and, well, you can just imagine the phone call to my agency ("He was doing what?").

I relate this to similar situations while growing up. When you were in school with your friends and someone would make a fart noise (either genuine or otherwise), denial was your best option, and when it failed, you would blame your friend. If your friend came up with the impenetrable "Did not!" defense, you might have to change tacks and say: "Uhh... it was my sneaker, scuffing the floor." Then you would proceed to scuff your shoe continuously and on various surfaces until you could reproduce the sound accurately. This could take hours.

Luckily, it's only 10:30. Hours, I've got. I make the noise again with my mouth, frrrrrrpp, but she doesn't turn around.

I make it again, frrrrrrrrrrp, a bit louder and longer, but she still won't turn around. I figure she must hear it by now, and either knows that it's a mouth-fart and won't turn around 'cause she doesn't care, or thinks it's a real fart and won't turn around because she is terrified. 

This isn't going to work.  Suddenly, I strike upon an idea, and proceed to turn the fart-noise into a song.

Frrrp-de-drrrp, drrrp-de-brrrp, frrrrp-a-frrrp-drrrp.

She still hasn't turned around, but I decide to stop. By now she must either know that it wasn't a real fart, or think that I am an extremely rude yet immensely talented young man.  

Right on both counts.

Other than making fart noises, my talents lie in fidgeting a lot. I drum my fingers, click my pen, tap my feet, and engage in other activities that probably drive people in the vicinity out of their minds. I just can't help it. It gets worse when I am trying to concentrate. Today I am trying to remember how to handle this particularly vexing series of invoices, vexing in that they contain numbers, so my fidgeting is in full swing. Since my hands are occupied with all the damn counting, I am indulging in some foot and leg fidgeting, my specialty, swinging my feet and kicking the bottom of my office chair with my heels.

My boss enters the office along with a few other people, who begin speaking with the woman I share the office with. I'm glad I actually have some work to do so I can look busy, instead of having to fake it as usual, although they're talking about numbers which is seriously throwing me off.  I kick my fidgeting up a notch to compensate.

While kicking away at the bottom of my seat, my right heel connects with the lever that controls the height of my office chair. The chair lets out a loud hydraulic wheeze and jolts downwards, trapping my leg between the seat and the foot of the chair.

Now I'm sitting there, about a six inches off the ground, my eyes level with the top of the desk, my leg stuck under me.

I grab the lever and try to pull it up, but it's no use. To make the chair rise, I need to stand up or at least take my weight off the chair seat. Unfortunately, I can't stand up, because my leg is pinned.

I'm always glad that people are around when these things happen to me.

Unfortunately, I think the situation is going to have to get worse before it gets better. I'm going to have to roll onto the floor in order to get my weight off the chair seat.

I can't believe the kind of negligence that is rampant in society these days. Don't they test these chairs in the factory? Didn't someone notice that if you pull your legs way up under the seat, you could hit the lever the lever with your heel and trap your foot and look like a dork? I reach down an desperately try to shove my foot out of the way but it is stuck fast. Wait! There's another lever! Right next to the first one! I pull the new lever, hoping it some sort of ejector lever or at the very least, a self-destruct lever that will cause an explosion that will destroy the building. All that happens is that the seat-back reclines, so that in addition to sitting a few inches off the floor, I'm now also staring at the ceiling.

Well, I'll be damned if I am going to roll onto the floor in front of a bunch of people. Summoning all my strength, I yank my leg out from under the chair, losing a few layers of skin in the process. My shoe comes off and clonks onto the floor, but I manage to get my leg free and stand up. I bring the chair back to its normal height, pick up my shoe, and sit down again. Forgetting that the chair-back is still tilted to a thirty-degree angle, I almost topple over backwards, but manage to catch my knee under the desk drawer, which creates a sound, in my opinion, like someone smashing their knee into a desk drawer, only louder.

My performance complete, I stick my wounded foot back in my shoe and leave it untied. If I bent over to tie the laces I'd probably knock myself unconscious on the edge of the desk.

"What happened?" the paramedics would say.

"I think he had a seizure or something," my boss would say. "He was flailing around in his chair!"

"Hmm. Any early warning signs? Previous indications?"

"Well," my office mate would offer, "he was farting pretty bad earlier."


*Tony Danza has appeared in such television programs as Taxi and Who's the Boss? He has also had a successful boxing career.