Early in life I discovered musical abilities not always appreciated. I must have been six when in a Howard Johnson restaurant I made my Mom turn red. The people in the booth next to us made a complaint saying I had been farting loudly and it stank. They were given another table. The manager came out and asked us to leave. Later when my Dad found out about this, I learned there are times one should politely keep cheeks squeezed to avoid sitting in pain for a week.
I guess farts are only funny at home with family and understanding friends. Grocery stores, churches and in class at school had the ‘off limits’ fart rule with consequences firm and grim. There were armpit imitators, but few ever had the proper tone. I certainly did not want to shake hands or share a pencil with armpit trumpet artists at school or at home. However, I needed something to impress Carolyn J, but I had no skills in second grade.
Trouble seems inevitable with a group of second grade boys trying to impress by being annoying. James had a large mass of green snot that would go in and out of his nose, but most girls and Carolyn seemed to like him. Then one day during sleep time, Carolyn said, ’I will dream about James.’ James turned beet red and used a tissue to lessen his appeal. I was crushed and I could not sleep because my tummy was upset. During recess I stood by the slide and started belching loudly. Some of the girls said I was being gross and naughty.
Harriet was a little tattletale and she told Mrs. Woodruff I was being gross, naughty, mean and loud. Mrs. Woodruff was fair and wanted to hear my side of the story. However, my tummy was still upset and I unintentionally belched out my answer quite clearly. Mrs. Woodruff was not amused. She pinched my ear and dragged me to the principal’s office. I was paddled and had my recess revoked for a week. However, Mrs. Woodruff reduced the sentence to one day and told me, ‘belching okay, but not when you speak.’
Each day on the playground all my classmates wanted me to belch out words. I had become a bit of a celebrity. Even boys from higher grades thought my talent cool. After a few days, the fanfare for my novelty wore off, but my fame continued. I would belch here and there occasionally, but I preferred practicing my craft at home alone in the study. By the time I was in Junior High, I could belch out up to 25 words at a time. I had thought I was ready to impress in ’lunch’ prime time.
Red letter days in a school’s history should be judged good or to be forgotten. Luck would have that on a certain Friday my friends’ table was next door to the girls we adored. They acted coy when my friends tried to get their attention. I looked at my friends and said, ’Move aside and let a master show you how to meet women.’ I stood up, bowed, then burped loudly asking them to join us. I did not notice Harriet sitting there. She said, ’You’re gross and childish. I’m no longer hungry.’
I was soon told by the teacher’s aide monitor to report to the office. My counselor talked to me and kept me from getting expelled. I had to apologize to the Cook and work as her clean up boy for a week. She was a nice Hungarian lady and a fantastic cook. One of my favorite memories is of being locked in the kitchen with her and staff eating spaghetti. Our school had a race riot. I cold hear the police megaphones burping out instructions. All of use ate feeling relatively safe. I remembered Mrs. Woodruff's lesson long after my second belching mistake.