Scrolling through a social media feed can inspire. A well placed article can sharpen my focus on an issue. A great photo can make me see the world differently. Sometimes what my friends are doing – working on their third book, winning a Nieman Fellowship, traveling through Korea – leaves me in awe.
And sometimes status updates are about just how heinous people who fart at the gym are.
Despite having an opinion on most things exercise related, I rarely chime in about cutting the cheese at your favorite fitness center. Because frankly…I’m one of those horrifically gassy people letting out stink bombs that make you think a dead raccoon has been decomposing in my stomach for a few weeks.*
Which I’m very sorry about.
I spent years learning to put the kibosh on my butt trumpets – which gifted me with an amazingly strong sphincter along with one shit-load of pain. Toward the beginning of grad school, after a doctor visit where the phrase “possible IBS” came up, I freaked. It was time to learn something new: letting ‘em go, stealthily.
And man, did I get good at that. I basically became the James Bond of gas-passery. Wooden chair? No problem. Not wearing any pants? Piece of cake.
Why am I pointing this all out? Because I never quite got what the big deal was about the whole gym-wind situation. Yeah, someone let a silent-and-maybe-deadly (never know til it’s out) rip. Big whoop. We’re human beings, it’s a natural phenomenon, yackity-smackity.
Until yesterday. While rocking the elliptical and gaining some really great knowledge about how to style my hair (seriously, after reading this article I whipped my hair up at home and got complimented all day long), it happened to me.
In my day, I’ve smelled some pretty scheisty toots. I’ve been Dutch ovened . But this? This was something else.
I hadn’t even noticed someone get on the machine next to me. One second I was immersed in Jimmy Eat World’s “Chase This Light” and the May issue of Glamour, the next second I my eyes, nasal passages, and throat were immersed in something that would politely be called “gag-worthingly rank” and impolitely be called “a lot like dipping my head into a stale, pickled watermelon that had fecal matter spread inside of it.”
My eyes watered and instantly I thought of all the people who have sat behind me in spin class, shared a lane with me at the pool, played soccer against me, bought cough syrup with me, and stood next to me on an elliptical machine many other days at many other gyms. I kept my eyes forward and turned my head away from the woman who had cut a muffin, but those seven inches did me no good. Everywhere was permeated with her poot.
I held my breath, waited, and after far longer than you’d think possible for a fart to linger, the smell of the poop sitting in her colon dispersed.
Ten minutes later, it happened again. Repeat the last two paragraphs. Then skip this one and move on.
What that girl taught me was twofold:
First, I am sorry. I am very, very sorry.
Second, I’m going to try like heck to hold my trouser (or trouserless) coughs in at the gym. And around my friends.
Call it a mid-year resolution. This shit is serious.
*A friend once asked, “How can something so small and cute be so stinky?” The answer, friend, is practice.