Last week, I was the last person to board my Southwest plane heading from Baltimore to Denver. Everyone stared at me as I boarded, undoubtedly angry at me for holding up the plane. It had not been my fault. My connecting flight into Baltimore had arrived late. But no one cared. They hated me.
I took the only seat available, between two obese people. No one else had wanted the seat, which is why I got it. I was a grape tucked in between two cantaloupes.
Worse, I had on a thick, long wool coat. And because the whole plane was staring at me as I boarded, I felt too self-conscious to take the time to remove the coat. So I just took my cramped seat and sat there, hot. Boiling hot.
But that’s not the bad part. The bad part is that I had gas.
I did not want to go to the bathroom because the large man sitting between me and the aisle already looked angry at me. And worse, he was fully ensconced in his seat, laptop on tray table, papers in lap. Asking him to move would have been a big production.
So I held it in.
And sat like the squished, gaseous grape that I was.
For the next four hours.
When the plane landed, the flight attendants asked those of us flying on to Oakland to stay seated after everyone de-boarded, so they could get what they call a “through-count.”
When they said we could move around, I did. There were only around a dozen or so of us left on the plane, so I moved to a section that had almost nobody in it. And I moved fast.
And there, I let one go.
I thought it was the polite thing to do. After all, I couldn’t hold it in any longer. And I had waited this long.
But I had made a miscalculation.
I had not anticipated the flight attendant coming back up the aisle to clean up the plane.
I watched, helpless, as he walked toward me.
When he reached my section, he made a face. He could obviously smell that someone had let one go in the cabin. Then he stared at me.
I panicked. And I did the only thing a right-thinking person could do.
I pointed toward the elderly gentleman asleep in the seat across the aisle. Then I shook my head and rolled my eyes, as if to say, “Old people. They just can’t control themselves.”
The flight attendant nodded his head, as though he understood.
And I shook my head one more time. For emphasis.