There are few places in everyday life where you are more effectively publicly entrapped than when getting a haircut. I had one today. It's a little one-chair joint I go to, in the classic half-finished mould of country barbers all over this nation of ours, and Elizabeth has run the place for I think 15 years or something like that. There was a new furnishing addition I noticed today, a blue plush velour back seat from a car turned into a waiting couch, underneath which was bizarrely hung a radiator grille from a mid-70's Toyota Crown 2600 Deluxe.
Interesting that almost every example still alive today is this colour.
But that is not my story.
There were a few waiting before me and it's not like I was in a rush or anything, so there was no problem. I can't easily hold a newspaper these days (without sitting at a table) so I just vagued out, alternating between looking out the window and tuning in to the dreadful telemovie showing. Just as a new patron wandered in, nodded to all, and sat down next to me, it hit me.
You know the feeling, surely. A slight but sudden pang right deep in your abdomen - small but sharp pain that only lasts a moment until there's a little rumbling and movement and everything settles back into place. That's right; there's a really big fart in there.
Now many people, including of course myself in the past, would deal with one that's hard to just redigest or hold on to by letting it go really, really slowly and silently, if there's a decent enough crowd for plausible deniability and your poker face skills are running high. Not an option for me anyway, as the last 6 months since tube feeding have shown me that my arse-talking skills are not always that predictable or controllable. Plus, there isn't even the chance of a couch-cushion gas insertion, as I have sat opposite the new car-seat couch, on one of the leather directors-chair type arrangements.
Other folks would just let it on out, brazen it out, or have a laugh. Not me though. I'm not exactly confident in my verbal communication skills (ie can't really tell a joke or put on a show) without reliably recognisable speech, and besides, I'm a bit delicate that way. Never been into gross-out physical humour.
Well, just go outside for a minute! Ah, but there are The Rules Of The Barber Shop. You cannot for instance stick your head in the door, see that there are a couple of guys there already, and say "I'll come back in 20 minutes." Well you can, but it has no meaning other than that you do not know The Rules. Anyone else who arrives in the meantime is There Before You. Because the rules pertaining to waiting and order of service state that You Must Remain In The Barber Shop At All Times Or Lose Your Place. Seeing the parking inspector go past the window, knowing your parking meter is getting low or expired, and issuing a loud and heartfelt plea to all those present for mercy is one of the only ways to (perhaps) be granted a stay, and then only if you run out (and back) in a panicked fashion and be prepared to regale all and sundry with an entertaining bullshit version of subsequent events thereafter. Preferably involving some amazingly effective witty one-liner in the face of the parking inspector. (But our town has no paking meters). Otherwise, Stay Put.
I'd been there 10 minutes, the guy before me was just getting in to the chair, and I am Going To Make It.
Often when one suppresses a lower section gaseous threat, it just seemingly reabsorbs. At other times it just gathers strengh, and periodically knocks at the door. A bit louder and more insistent each time. It's OK, my previous history of worse bowelliferous disruptions has trained me well, and my clenching and holding reflexes are good. But lordy, this is some serious amount of pressure here.
My turn. I'm just going for a tidy-up, so it shouldn't take too long. You know how hard it can be to talk normally and hold on real tight abdominally speaking? (Ha! Top pun almost!) Well, herein is a silver lining. Elizabeth remembers me and we'd discussed my illness and speech difficulties before so beyond the initial niceties it's a silent cut. I think she appreciates the break from constant bullshit also.
Keep holding, You're doing well. Keep holding. Remember to breathe, relaxing everything that is not needed for vapour retention. Good. Nearly done. We're actually going to make it........
You're a young woman working in a medium-sized office of accountants etc, and one of your half-dozen strong office group of girls is leaving work today to have a baby, yay! You've all gone to the pub for a long lunch (thanks, for the extra hours, bosses!) and all but one (the bubby one) have had a couple of refreshing beverages by way of celebration and a great time is being had by all. There's a gift from 'the girls', a card, promises to email, and "keep up with my Facebook" and the odd tearful moment - but mainly a great bunch of friends having fun. Gotta get back to work though, so drinks are finished up, skirts smoothed, and the laughter continues all the way out the door.....
Regular readers may be aware the my autoimmune condition has made my skin very tight and hard, and has similarly affected my gastro-intestinal tract. Also affected are all the major sphincters of my body (yes, even my pupils!) so my arse-tooter has changed somewhat from the usual mellifluous organ most of us are familiar with to a more constricted variety of outlet. As we all know, something passing through a relatively smaller diameter opening will tend to do so at higher presuure and/or also take longer to fully pass through..........
Yay! Elizabeth's charged me even less than usual because it was "just a tidy-up" and I'm out the door free. I can finally let go......no, hang on, let this couple with the pram get by first. Come on, come on, I wonder if they were in the pub with the little'un? Come on......OK, getting ready, give them a moment to get out of earshot andBRRAAAAAPPOBRAAAPPPPPAAAAAHHHHHHHFFFFFFFFFFFWEEeEEeeeeeeeeptf...
The dread anti-sound of peals of womanly laughter suddenly ceasing in the now-open doorway just behind me assail my ears. The last sound I heard before the deadly silence was a slightly horrified
".....the fuck was that???" I turned around to see them all looking my way, as one, just slightly aghast. Yes, it is you, the young woman we met earlier.
"Er, I've just had a haircut."
I so wish I'd said that. It was the first thing on my mind, but at the time my absurd-o-meter censored it straight out of my neuronal brain-mouth queue. Still, something by way of response was called for.
"Oh, hi" with a little half-wave of my half-deformo-claw hand. And turning, I continued to walk away to the chorus of silence behind. I started counting. One-elephant, two-elephant.....it was eleven-elephant before the first of them broke.
And luckily for me, their office was in the other direction.