When a repressed urge becomes the worst case scenario

One afternoon last week Jon and I got to go to the gym together, something we rarely get to do anymore because someone has to stay home and prevent the kid from wrapping every surface in the house with toilet paper. When we do workout together I view Jon’s company as a valuable motivator particularly if we score two elliptical trainers next to each other. When I lived in Los Angeles I often worked out with a gay friend who would choose the highest level on the elliptical trainer, and he was so in shape he would often talk in whole paragraphs throughout the entire workout. He set the standard, and no matter how many days a week I exercised or trained I couldn’t ever keep up with him. My body just wasn’t cut out to be a chatty gay man.

Jon and I are equally fit, but even if we do the same program on the elliptical trainer — the same run of hills at the same difficulty level for the same amount of time — he always burns at least 70 more calories than I do. I know that the machine is taking into account the fact that he is 70 pounds heavier, but it doesn’t seem fair especially since he always walks in the door after a workout, heads straight to the refrigerator and pours a half a cup of caramel topping into his mouth. As a woman I can barely handle such an act of blasphemy. The Lord gave him 70 bonus calories and he has the audacity to just pour them down his throat. It shows a complete lack of reverence toward the thousands of women in this country who carefully meter out every calorie they put into their bodies, and he should be punished by having those 70 calories cut straight out of his thigh.

After our aerobic exercise we always stretch out on the mats and then do several sets of sit-ups on the crunch machine. During this specific workout Jon was standing about ten feet away lifting weights as I churned through my first set of 30 crunches. At about crunch 13 I was overcome with a sudden urge but didn’t think much of it because I was concentrating on making it to crunch 14. The crunch machine at our gym requires that you lie on your back with your feet in the air tucked behind a set of bars, and there I was on my back, my feet elevated so that they were parallel with my head, my butt perched at the end of the vinyl seat like a little prairie dog poking its head out of a burrow.

As my arms came up over my head to complete the 14th crunch the urge that I had tragically ignored gave way to The World’s Loudest Fart, an expulsion of air so quick and violent that it ricocheted off the vinyl seat and shook two 40 lb weights hanging behind Jon’s head. It was so loud that I could hear it over the music on my iPod playing in my ears. I’ll never forget the look on Jon’s face as his arms collapsed to his side, as his body almost crumbled beneath him from laughter. It was a strange set of emotions I then experienced because on the one hand I just wanted to stop existing. I couldn’t turn my head or move my body in any way because I might make eye contact with someone who had heard it and that would be more than I could possibly bear. I didn’t want to be confronted with the reality that someone other than an immediate family member, that a stranger had heard me fart. That’s a sacred song you don’t share with just anyone.

On the other hand I was delighted that I had made Jon laugh so hard, so hard in fact that he had to walk it off and muffle the noise because he was bringing even more attention to the fact that his wife just farted loudly in public. One of my greatest joys in life is witnessing something that makes Jon laugh. Things are funnier when he laughs maybe because I’ve shared certain experiences with him that inform his sense of humor, and I can see the angle at which something hits him. It reveals his soul in such a magical way. I imagined him standing there with two 15 lb weights in each of his hands, his arms straining to hold them straight out from his sides when his wife who is positioned so that her body is shaped like a rocket launcher rips a trombone fart so suddenly, so authoritatively — Behold, This is My Fart — that the immediate shock of it feels like a cannon ball has been shot into his chest.

That’s when the weights dropped, that’s when his legs went wobbly because every part of his brain was trying to process the impossible. And then he saw how paralyzed I was, that my body had stopped moving, that I had sealed my eyes shut in an attempt to will my body into dust. And he knew that no matter how hard I tried to withdraw from what had just happened, no matter the distance I tried to put between myself and that gash I had just torn in the fabric of our lives, that I would never be able to reverse the fact that he knew that he was married to a Public Farter.