Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Self-Immolation or Et Cetera

The city lights were reflected on the hood of a luxury sedan as it made its way to the ritzy part of the city through downtown. The rate at which the glistening lights had moved from grill to windshield slowed until the now numerous flickering orange construction lights remained stagnant at the center of the hood. A line of similar cars formed behind this leader—the first to make it to the construction signs. The road had been reduced to one lane near the traffic light and four lanes worth of vehicles had been compressed into one line of tightly packed glimmering cars, resembling a glossy millipede in rigid pose. The cones separating the other three lanes were sufficiently spread apart to tempt some of those in line to get out and use the marked off lanes.

“Just take the other lane,” said an occupant of one of the SUVs.

“I can’t. It’s marked off,” responded the driver.

The line of vehicles grew. A honk could be heard several cars back and soon the vehicles closer to the front began flashing their headlights. The third car back, a large luxury SUV, slowly crept out of line and went to one of the marked off lanes, passing the head car.

“See! Just take the other lane,” repeated the passenger.

“I can’t now. Everyone else is and we’re trapped.”

Three new lines of cars were forming, abandoning the first one. They flowed past the point of blockage like pebbles caught in the current of a stream, as if some invisible force would not permit them to remain standing in line.

A block further down the road everyone saw why the road was reduced to one lane. Just beyond the traffic light a construction crew was working on a water main, blocking off all but one lane. All the cars that had jumped out of line tried to merge back into the original lane. None of the people who had stayed in the designated lane let them rejoin. The autos began to honk at one another and flashed their lights while they attempted to squeeze back into line. The intersection became blocked and traffic ground to a halt at that part of the city.

“We’re going to be late,” sighed the passenger...

A party arrived at the theatre twenty minutes late, surprised to find people still wandering about in the lobby. The group checked-in their overcoats and made their way to the usher, who proceeded to take them to their seats. Again, these people were surprised that hardly anyone else was seated. Every show sold out and they had waited for weeks to get tickets.

The musicians in the pit at the front of the stage could be heard tuning their instruments. A man sitting in the third row checked his watch, turned in his seat, looked around the theatre and saw it was nearly empty but that people were filing in from the various entrances. The white noise of random conversation swelled as more and more of the chicly dressed audience sat down.

An older gentleman with frayed hair, like that of a stereotypical conductor, made his way to center stage. He cleared his throat into the microphone before it emitted the high whine of feedback. He stepped away from the microphone as everyone quieted down and turned to the stage. He stepped back up to the microphone:

“We have been informed that due to traffic problems our show will be delayed until the house is full, or close to it at least. Apparently some people can’t read and took a closed road, causing a full gridlock. We don’t expect it to be much longer, so please take this time to read the program and we apologize for the inconvenience. Enjoy the show.” He walked off stage as moans could be heard coming from the freshly seated audience…

Two brothers sat in a private balcony to the right of the stage. A young man with a date at his side noticed them. It was his first date with the young lady and he thought about how the old pair up in the balcony resembled the duo of muppets from The Muppet Show. He decided against mentioning it as he thought it was an immature comment to make and didn’t wish to say anything that might not impress the young lady in the elegant evening gown beside him. His date had been rather cold to him all evening and seemed distant; he didn’t want to do anything that would jeopardize his chances at another date.

The young lady couldn’t believe how dry her date was and hoped the show wouldn’t be as boring as he had been. She laughed at his weak jokes, was courteous when he opened a door for her and thanked him when he paid for dinner. If only he’d show some life, some silliness, some anything, she thought…

A man with a red face walked behind an usher with his wife trailing. He seemed to have forgotten about her and proceeded to step on the feet of those sitting in his row as he made his way to his seat. When his wife finally made it to her seat he looked up, as if surprised to see her there at the theatre with him. He sighed and moved the program he had set on her seat to his lap, doing her a great favor to which she’d no doubt be oblivious. Just think, now he’ll have to sit the entire show with a damned program in his hands. The woman smiled, thanked her husband, and thought about what an asshole he was…

The house lights retreated and darkness encroached. The sound of the curtains withdrawing could be heard as it got quiet. The audience’s eyes hadn’t adjusted to the darkness yet and the young ballerina crouched on the floor wasn’t seen until the spotlight turned on and illuminated her. She seemed to be brought to life by the beam of light and slowly stood up as the music began. The show started and most of the audience had their eyes on the events taking place on the stage…

Forgive me kind reader, but we must make a digression. There was once a legend that sprang up revolving around the famous figure of Marie Antoinette. This fine lady was said to have the most impeccable manners, and despite the bum rap she has gotten in history she was a stellar lady. However, when her husband was beheaded and her family taken away, she devised a scheme: a small payback for the wretches of France. After she was convicted and sentenced to death she stopped eating, save her last meal three days prior to the execution. Many were surprised by her appearance as she was led to the guillotine; some even say she had a smirk on her withered and withdrawn face.

Many things can be said of royalty but their manners have rarely been in doubt; none was more aware of their etiquette than the good Antoinette. She could, say, withhold a fart for a fortnight’s travel in a royal procession if needed. Her pride was too great to allow such a slight into existence because of her actions. Not once in the royal logs could any mention be found of any dishonorable behaviors on the part of the fine Antoinette: No foul smells, no improper sounds, no reprehensible squabbling, no conniving gossip, nothing of the kind, sort, or nature. A lady through and through: Marie Antoinette.

The good queen’s last meal had been cabbage soup. However, some raw eggs were hidden away in the bosom of a confidant and allowed to rot and ruin. The night before her execution, our good queen, the poor victim of the times, cracked open the eggs and sipped them down as if they were the finest champagne in all of France. The cabbage soup now had some company as she had held for three days all those urges that no one else but oneself can satisfy. She broke out in sweats and was sleepless for she feared falling asleep and relaxing one muscle, which would call an end to the clever lady’s scheme. The guards who saw her assumed she was fearful of death, which would explain the odd appearance and behavior of this once regal figure…only, how to explain the smile on her face?

So the day had come and after all the ceremonies that surround such an occasion had been completed, the good Antoinette was beheaded. The moment her head fell from her torso a plume so vile, so repulsive, so revolting, nauseating and hideously repugnant spewed forth from the good lady’s ass. All the things that would have been solid had rotted in what must have been a painful experience into a stew of putrid liquids. The pressure caused by three days’ worth of refusing to release any of the fetid farts was so great that those who saw it firsthand could have sworn her corpse was moved by the release.

As the gas filled the square those around the now dead queen swore a curse had been cast upon them. They lamented over the burning in their eyes and the stinging in their nostrils. Many began to barf, which did not add to the pleasantness of the situation, and soon a ponds of vomit formed, through which the confused and bewildered crowd ran. The panic was so great that France was almost lost for good. A monumental campaign followed to quench the rise of the heated stories surrounding the queen’s execution. The rumors and gossip that spread from this public event were too dangerous for the frail new government and were quickly stomped out of existence. Few to this day know the truth regarding the beheading of the good lady Antoinette and her posthumous punishment on the people of France…

Now, how might this relate to what you’ve read so far, kind reader? I’ll tell you. Well within the first act, someone let one go. This was no ordinary fart. If someone had bottled the infamous flatus of the good lady Antoinette, ground up PepĂ© le Pew, and mixed the two together they would not have nearly achieved the odorous power as was contained in this bomb released within the audience. The strangest thing happened at first, and that is, nothing happened.

The one thing this fart didn’t have on the good lady’s was spread. This was a localized fart whose strength came from the fact that it was concentrated. It didn’t matter who released it but what happened as a result.

The smell made itself known but no one would publicly acknowledge it. This was far too formal an event and they were adults, weren’t they? Why should anyone embarrass another person for what is natural? But the rotting smell was unbearable. People started to breathe through their mouths in the vain hope that it would make the smell tolerable. They were wrong. One lady’s eyes started to water and her nose ran but when her husband asked if she was OK, she indicated that it was the events on stage that had brought her to tears.

And then the initial domino that had fallen found its target. Someone amongst the crowd, enveloped in the invisible curse floating about the room, figured as follows: If I can smell this violation against all that is humane, then others must as well; therefore, I can release one and so long as it isn’t heard no one will be the wiser. So the man coughed and farted. If it weren’t for the tuba blast at that particular moment his plan would’ve collapsed into public shaming.

It turned out many were thinking similarly to this man. The rigidness of the event would have shattered into brouhaha by any overt releasing so all had to be done surreptitiously. While the subtle squeaks and whines of air on rectum could only be heard by those expecting them, the smell was plain to all.

The audience was now farting at will, for no one feared being suspected of perfidy. The result was a room full of noxious fumes. The air became thick and began to distort people’s views, like heat rising off a desert highway. The slender figure of the lead ballerina was warped and twisted into the visual equivalent of the smell that saturated the air. Before long a musician faltered, then another, and then yet another. The first to go were the woodwinds; next came the brass. Even the dancers on stage began to feel the effects of the communal farting. The final straw was when the second ballerina figured it was safe to let one go. She chose a leaping split for the moment, only by now the band had ceased to provide any cover and the distinctive sound of feminine flatulence could be heard, like the creaking of a board under great strain.

The charade was over: public acknowledgement of the farce taking place had been made. A moan could be heard and the audience soon all stood up and began to run for the aisles…

Out in the lobby a line was already forming at the only manned counter. “We demand our money back!”, “We want a rain check! This is completely unacceptable!”, “It smells like a skunk’s asshole in there for Christ’s sake!”, “I’ve never been so disgusted in all of my life!”, “My eyes! My eyes!”, and so on…

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