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
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
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
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
Right on both
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
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
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.
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?"
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.