Orleans, Summer, 1971. My wanderings had led me to the Crescent City
and, between situations, I was looking for work. One morning I got
a tip about an employment agency across town that specialized in decent
short-term jobs and temporary labor. So, in the company of two recent
companions-- fellow wanderers seeking gainful employment-- I set out
for the address I'd been given. About thirty minutes into our trek,
we got caught in a hellacious thunderstorm. It was one of those New
Orleans specials, where the rain seems to fall horizontally, relentlessly
seeking out every dry spot on your body.
arrived completely drenched and looking like drowned rats. In a men's
room, we blotted ourselves with paper towels, doing little to
effect a change in our sodden appearances. We boarded the elevator
for the trip to the 14th floor with our shoes squelching and puddles
forming at our feet. The car stopped on every floor as more and more
people got on. Nobody seemed to get off; it was jammed with office
workers. Pretty soon we were wedged tightly in the corner, water dripping
from our hair and clothes. The atmosphere was hot, muggy, close and
steamy. One of my companions nudged me, leaned in close and whispered: "Oh, man... I really have to fart!"
So?" I whispered in reply. "I can tell it's gonna be a loud one", he murmured.
"And...?" our other friend asked.
"Well, if we cough I could sort of, uh, sneak it
out " he said. "All
count to three; we cough", he whispered. It seemed like a good
plan. We braced ourselves for action. He
nodded, and began the countdown in a whisper, nodding his head slightly once, twice, three times. Right on cue, we all managed to cough in unison, and then...
timing is everything, isn't it? His soggy clothes and the natural
resonance of the small space supplied amplification to rival the finest
concert hall sound; the prolonged report reached every ear. Everyone
seemed to find just a little extra room in that elevator, somehow,
as they all pulled away from us. My thoroughly embarrassed and sheepish
pal stood there, rainwater dripping from the end of his nose as he
stammered "Uh... huh, huh; mmm...oh, man! God; sorry, folks!"
We didn't get jobs that day, either.
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