TRAVELING COMPANION

AS MY FLIGHT PREPARED FOR TAKEOFF, a horrid smell wafted back over my seat. Trapped in 29A and accelerating from zero to 150 in twenty seconds, it came again. Once airborne, high above earthly things, it came once again. Soon I discovered that the person in front of me was a monoglot Japanese businessman who not only wiggled like a six-year-old, but was afflicted with uncontrollable, corrosive flatulence. Over the course of the next six hours, I developed a real hatred for the back of his head. Not only did he bounce and fidget and fiddle with his seat, which of course meant that my tray table was constantly gyrating in sympathy with his irritable bowels, but he was much of the time asleep. Asleep and farting. I thought of bashing his head in, but ultimately that would only make things worse. The dead really can't control themselves. I was therefore reduced to beaming urgent mental messages: HOLD STILL AND STOP FARTING! My psychic powers were unequal to the task and did nothing to stem the noisome cloud emanating from 28A. Probably because I can't think in Japanese.

April 28, 1994

3/17/99

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