Friday, December 2, 2011

Lessons Learned the Hard Way: Don't fart on your college professor



Recently, a man in West Virginia was charged with assault for farting on a police officer.  Despite how hilarious every part of that is, an ill timed flatulent can cause you to get in quite a bit of trouble if you let one rip around the wrong person.  Unfortunately, this is something that I know from experience.

In college, I was on scholarship as a music major for playing trombone.  This meant that I was at the mercy of my trombone professor for much of my financial well being.  He had a fairly odd and unpredictable temper (as well as a mildly unhinged disposition), which meant that being around him could often feel like you were walking on eggshells...that are resting over a pit of ravenous alligators.

On the other hand, my professor did have a very kind and human side that he often showed to his students, as well.  One of the ways this manifested itself was in the occasional dinners/social gatherings that he would have at his house for the entire trombone studio.  He had a very nice house, a wife that was a great cook, and a beautiful back yard with plenty of space to play the universal sport of every college student:  Ultimate Frisbee.


                                              bestsalebestshopping.com
He also had an awesome toilet that we lovingly called
"Black Thunder," but that will be story for another day.


One night after a game that involved the entire studio, we all sat in our professor's back yard as the sun went down.  We were staring up at the beautiful Kentucky night sky, telling jokes, and all enjoying each other's company.  I had been lucky enough to score one of the lawn chairs while most of the group was sitting on the lawn.  As we continued to talk and laugh well into the night, I nonchalantly lifted my leg and unleashed what to this day is still what I consider to be one of the top five farts that I have ever had in my lifetime.

Now maybe it was just the circumstances or the setting, but I can honestly say that this one was special; it is a very rare occurrence to have a fart actually make you feel as though you have lost 10 lbs  Its sound pierced the night air with a force that shattered our friendly camaraderie, birthed a stunned second of silence, and then was recognized with hysterical laughter,cheers, and congratulations from my fellow musicians.

It was at this point that Bill looked right below were I was sitting and yelled "OH MAN!  NICK JUST FARTED ON YOUR HEAD!"  To my complete shock and embarrassment, sitting right below the leg that I had lifted to unleash the fury was my trombone professor.

                                                                 wallpapersfolder.com


"Oh yeah, it's always like you're five years old when Nick's around," he angrily responded as the group continued to howl and praise my impressive display of flatulent fortitude.  My feelings of elation and gastrointestinal relief, however, had been replaced by a cold chill running down my spine.  Despite my apology, which could barely be heard over the continued laughter, I knew that nothing good would come of this.

Sure enough, the next day as I walked down the main fine arts building hallway, I saw a note on my professor's white board that sat outside his door.  Instead of the usual rehearsal reminders or pseudo inspirational quotes, it simply and boldly stated :  'Nick, Please See Me A.S.A.P'


I poked my head in the door and asked what he needed.

"Two minutes," my professor replied, which was a completely inaccurate statement.  "Two minutes" was his response to any length of time needed for him to converse with another person or finish a previously started projected.  The shortest amount of time that "two minutes" ever ended up being was 10 minutes, and I highly doubted that I would be lucky enough to only have to suffer through that much.

As I came in and closed the office door, our conversation began with perhaps one of the most bizarre admonishments that a person could ever receive.  He sat down, looked at me, and with completely earnestness said:

"Nick, I was deeply offended when you farted at my house last night."

I had never felt such an odd mix of shameful remorse while struggling to suppress laughter in my entire life.  Still, it was his house and I did fart on the man.  He deserved an apology, which I attempted to give:

"I know, I'm really sorry," I said.  "I didn't know your head was right under me when I did that..."

"No!" he angrily interrupted me.  "It doesn't matter where I was sitting.  You shouldn't fart around other people...EVER!"

                                                                      sodahead
Pictured:  My trombone professor's cat,
shortly before it's death due to a violent explosion


At this point, I should have begun the soul crushing yet infinitely more efficient process of nodding and agreeing, but instead I decided to take our conversation down a path which it never should have begin.

"It was just a bunch of us guys hanging out after playing frisbee together.  I guess I kind of forgot the student/teacher boundaries there and acted like I was back in a dorm room with a bunch of people my age instead of my professor's house.  I'm really sorry..."

"You just don't get it, do you?" he angrily barked.  "Farting isn't something that you should do around anyone, for any reason, at any time.  Do you know what a fart smells like?"

I completely froze.  The answer to the question was incredibly simple, but the directness of the question (combined with it coming from the man that controlled a large portion of my ability to get a degree) shook me to a point that all I could do is say "Like something really bad?"

"No," he replied.  "It smells like your $%&#.  And I don't wanna smell...your $%&#."



At least some people appreciated it.


By this point the conversation had gotten very weird, but not out of the realm of reasonableness.  My professor had a point:  Farts (mine most definitely included) do smell terrible.  Unfortunately, I just could not figure out how to shut up and start nodding mindlessly in agreement.

"But c'mon, it was just a bunch of guys hanging out." I meekly responded.  "Don't tell me you never ripped a few around your guy friends in college."

"First of all, there were ladies present," he tersely answered.

He had me there.  We did have girls in our studio that were there when my intestinal wrath was released.  It wasn't that I had forgotten about them; they had just become like sisters to us...that or we completely ignored all civility around them since they had known us for years.

                                                                              personal.psu.edu
    So...are you mad because I didn't notice your new haircut, 
or because I totally crop dusted you while you were walking behind me?


"And secondly," he continued "I never farted around my friends in college or at any other point in my life.  And you know what?  They never farted around me either.  You wanna know why?  Because we respected each other enough to make sure that we never did that in the company of others.  Unfortunately, you don't seem to understand that."

As if that statement wasn't harsh enough, it was followed by something even worse:

"You know, I've actually had other people in the studio come to me and complain about your farting."


                                                       principalspage.com
Yeah, that's him!  He's the one that 
made it smell like eggs and broccoli!


He'd had people "come to him" about my farting?  Seriously?  At this point I did one of the only things I could do; I totally began to throw my friends under the bus.

"Oh c'mon!  You know the only ones that would have complained were the girls, because me, Seth, and everyone else in the studio farts around each other all the time."

"Oh I know," he replied.  "I have had complaints about them as well."

This actually made me feel much better.  While I was under no illusion that my gaseous emissions do not smell absolutely terrible, I has a victim as well as an aggressor in the constant war of flatulence that occurred amongst the studio.  It was also good to that I was not some crazed fart monster that had other students running to the university faculty in a traumatized and tearful state.

By now I was too far down the rabbit hole of crazy and awkwardness to let this continue any longer.

"Look, I'm sorry I farted around you," I said.  "I will make sure never to do it again."

"But that's not good enough!"  he snapped back.  "You see, it's not just my job to teach you to be a better trombone player.  It's also my job to prepare you for life.  And if you really still think that it's okay for you and your friends to go around farting in front of each other all the time, then I haven't done my job."

                                                   art.com
It would help if the school 
would just put a few of these up

The level of surrealness that had been achieved during conversation had officially short circuited every part of my brain that made thoughtful, self preserving decisions.  This is probably why I decided to make the following statement:

"Look, people fart around each other, especially if they spend a lot of time together.  Don' tell me that your wife has never farted in front of you the entire time that you've been married."

Of all the responses that he could have had for that statement, I was completely unprepared for the one that I got.  He looked at me sternly and said without any hesitation:

"I don't let her...I don't let her." (yes, he said it twice).

"You don't let her?"  I incredulously replied.

"No, I don't let her fart around me...because then the romance would be gone.  So no, I don't ever let her fart around me, and I don't ever fart around her."

At that moment, I couldn't help but think of my professor's poor wife waiting for him to leave the house so that she could finally let a huge one rip.  As nearly anyone can attest that has been on a date, the 'post date fart' is one of the most violent yet relieving feelings that a person can experience.  The build up, however, can be absolute torture.  How did his wife live like that every day?  Furthermore, how did my professor?  Perhaps this was the reason for his often times cranky and unpredictable position.

As I left the office that day in stunned silence, I realized that despite the huge gaffe that I had made of farting on my trombone professor, I still had one thing going for me:  I would never make the woman I love ever hold it in on my behalf.  So to Karen, my wonderful wife, go ahead and let it rip.  Let it rip in the name of love...just warn me first so that I can leave the room.

                                                                   bellyrubbers.com
And just know that later on
that evening, I will have my revenge!