by Michail Mulvey
I’d had an accident like this before, but never in my car. And never on my way to a job interview. Just my luck. I needed this job. The rent was due. Not to mention alimony. And a car payment. A car payment on a crappy car to begin with, but a vehicle whose driver’s side seat was now damp from the wet one I’d just let go. Not on purpose, of course. Who lets a wet one go on purpose? Flatulence can be funny, but wet ones, especially at times like this, were not funny at all. More like a friggin’ disaster.
There was that one, though, the one I cut just after my best friend, Ricky, and I left that posh restaurant out on the Cape one summer. The restaurant that made us put on ties before they’d seat us. After dinner I tried to drag an SBD past all the snooty diners in their beige summer suits and pastel sun dresses who gave us the up and down when we walked in tie-less and laughing. I was hoping there was a Kennedy in the crowd.
But nothing came. Until we got outside. When it finally let loose, it was a wet one. And I was wearing khaki’s at the time. We both laughed as I ducked into an alley, took off my pants and threw them into a dumpster. Our wives stood on the sidewalk, stone-faced. Ricky ran to his car and brought back a pair of cut-offs for me to wear. Now that was funny. We were both drunk on our asses at the time. It was summer. That’s what guys do. Watch baseball, drink beer and laugh at their farts. Even the occasional wet one.
But this wasn’t funny. I was on my way to a job interview, for Christ’s sake. This had to be some sort of payback. And my ex, victim of many a Dutch-oven, had to be in on it. Or my buddies. Payback for that eye-watering chili and beer-fueled boomer I cut in the car on our way back from the Big East Women’s Basketball Tournament. It was March and all the windows were closed.
When the odor of warm feces reached my nose, I knew it was in deep doo-doo. Literally and figuratively. The wet and warm ooze that slowly spread in the seat of my pants was another clue. Maybe there was a CVS in town where I could stop off and buy a large box of Wet Wipes . . . I’d have to wrap my suit jacket around my waist as I waited in line at the register . . . and some Odor Eaters. I could slip one in the back of my pants after I cleaned up. Or a box of those adult diapers. Too late. I should have put one on before I left the house.
Luckily, my interview was in a rural school district up in the Litchfield Hills. The road that led up to the town wound its way through an area of few homes. When I got to a deserted stretch of road, I pulled off into the woods. I got out, took off my suit jacket and threw it on the passenger seat. I carefully took off my suit pants, then my underwear. Yeah, there it was. A soggy and foul-smelling mess of lumpy feculence. I gagged as I threw my shitty underwear into the woods. They caught on a tree branch and hung there like a brown and white signal flag: ‘Incontinent Dumbass On Board.’
I stood there bare-assed, holding up my soiled trousers and wondering, “What the hell do I do now?” At least it was my dark suit. Good thing I didn’t go commando. I should have worn my brown corduroys.Â But who knew? Well . . . I looked at my watch. I had fifteen minutes before the interview.
Truth be told, as usual, it was my own fault. I should have stayed home last night prepping for the interview. You know, going over my notes on the town and the school system I hoped would hire me to educate their children. But no. Ricky called and asked if I wanted to go out for a cold one. I could have said no. I should have said no. But . . .
“Come on, just one,” he said. “Just one,” he promised. One.Â I met Ricky at a bar in New Haven. A bar that served twenty-five different brands of ice-cold beer on tap. And foot-long hotdogs . . . with kraut if you wanted. And steamed cheeseburgers. And Jalapeno poppers. And Mexican chili so hot it brought tears to your eyes.
One, he said. It was one a.m. and many beers later when we staggered out to our cars, laughed at our hi-jinks, shook hands and drove off.
So, when I cut this wet one on my way to the interview, it wasn’t a total surprise. I had a history. And there was that gurgle in my gut as I got into my car. That breakfast of bacon, eggs and home fries at that that greasy-spoon diner probably didn’t help. Or that prune Danish. Like throwing dynamite onto a bonfire. And that second gurgling sound accompanied by the slight pressure in my lower intestine as I drove up Route 8 should have been a warning that a stop at a men’s room before I arrived at the interview would probably be a smart idea. But no. As usual, I was running late.
I opened the trunk of my car and rooted around for something to clean up the mess. I found several oily rags next to the spare tire. But what about the smell? That would be a clue that someone had had an ‘oops’ in their pantaloons. I spotted my shaving kit in the back of the trunk. I always carried a shaving kit in case I found myself the overnight guest of a young lady I’d just met in a bar. I knew there should be a Mennen Speed Stick Deodorant in there along with toothpaste, a toothbrush, razor, comb, dental floss, motel-sized soap, motel-sized shampoo and motel-sized conditioner.
I found the Speed Stick. “Strong odor protection that lasts all day,” read the label. If it worked as advertised, this accident would be my little secret. I wiped myself with one of the oily rags and threw it into the bushes. I grabbed another and wiped out the seat of my pants. I ran the deodorant stick up and down my ass, then back and forth across the wet spot in my pants. I threw the deodorant stick back in my shaving kit. I’d have to remember not to use that one again . . . unless, of course, I had another accident.
I held my pants up to my nose and gave them a good sniff. There was still a faint scent of feces, but when I held them at arm’s length, I smelled nothing. Close enough. I looked at my watch. Ten minutes. I had to get going.
I took a deep breath, gingerly slipped back into my pants and hoped for the best. Just as I was about to climb back into my car, I spotted the large brown wet stain in the driver’s seat. Appropriate. A crap car that I hadn’t even finished paying for. I found a plastic poncho in the trunk and laid it on the seat hoping it would shield me from both the stain and the stink.
I drove down the main street of this quaint and historic New England town — peopled, I was sure, by haughty blue-bloods, imperious patricians whose shit didn’t stink — past the picturesque Congregational Church just off the equally picturesque town green. A faint odor wafted from between my legs. A mixture of Mennen and muck.
I took a left at the light, drove a hundred or so yards down the road and into the parking lot of the school. I got out and walked toward the front entrance, taking air samples along the way. All I smelled was Mennen Speed Stick and the warm asphalt of the parking lot. So far, so good. But I would have to keep my back to the interviewers at all times.
“Hi, I’m here for the interview,” I told the secretary in the main office.
“Yes, you’re expected. Mr. Whittier and Mrs. Sedgwick will be with you shortly. Would you like to have a seat?”
“I think I’ll wait in the hall if you don’t mind. It was a long drive and I want to stretch my legs.” And air out my pants.
The principal and his assistant met me in the hall. “Hello, I’m Niles Whittier and this is Rachel Sedgwick, my assistant principal. Pleased to meet you. Dr. Warren, the superintendent, would like to be in on the interview so we’ll have to drive down to his office at the Board of Ed. It’s just down the road. You can ride with us.”
“Ah, that’s OK. I’ll follow you down in my car.”
“No need to take two cars. I’ll drive.”
As we walked down the hall and out to the parking lot, I kept one step behind Niles and Rachel. The wind was in my face. Good. As I climbed into the front seat of Niles’ Lexus, I worried the two might catch a whiff of any residual ejectamenta emanating from my pants. With luck maybe they’d both think the other had cut an SBD and would say nothing.
Nothing was said on the way down to the superintendent’s office and I could detect no sign on their faces that they smelled anything out of the ordinary. When we walked into the superintendent’s office, Dr. Warren strode out from behind his desk, greeted me warmly and gestured toward a chair at his conference table. I sampled the air as I walked over and sat down. Still good to go. The chair had one of those faux leather seats that squeaks like a weak fart when you sit down and slide into position. There was no squeak this time. I planted my ass firmly into the plastic seat cushion. No sliding.
I felt a sudden gurgling and shifting in my gut.
Nooo! Not again! Not now!
The superintendent began the interview.
“As you know, Mr. Beecher, the department chairman, discussed the particulars of this position with you during your lengthy phone interview. He told me he also spoke of our school system, our core beliefs and values, and you discussed your background. I saw in your application that you have a master’s in humanities from Wesleyan?”
“Yes, I do.”
“And he said the two of you also discussed the curriculum, our expectations, and the makeup of the department?”
“Yes, we did. Sounds like a rigorous program and an exceptional faculty.”
I felt a bubble slowly travel down my lower intestine. Sweat started to collect and drip down my back.
“I read in your cover letter that the school system where you worked previously experienced a budget shortfall due to the economy and was forced to downsize the faculty?”
“Yes. Unfortunately, I was one of the teachers let go. Just my luck.”
“Well, we’ve gone over your application packet, Rachel’s checked your references — your former principal couldn’t praise you enough — and we all feel you’ve got the experience and credentials we’re looking for. We were all equally impressed.”
“Your resume stood head and shoulders above the rest,” said Mr. Whittier. “I’m sure you’d be a good fit for our school and the system. And to ease your mind, the parents here are very supportive and the townspeople rarely, if ever, question the school budget.”
“Good to hear.”
I clenched my butt cheeks. My ass began to sweat.
“Alright then. We’d like to offer you the position. Here’s a copy of the salary schedule. I’ve highlighted a figure based on your experience and education. I think it’s fair. Take time to think it over if you need to and get back to us.”
“No need to think it over. It’s a fair number. I’d like very much to be a part of your team.”
“Great. Mr. Whittier, do you have any questions?”
“No, not really. Welcome to our town. I’m sure you’ll like it here.
Great. Short and sweet. Thank God for little things.
Rachel smiled weakly. Was she bored? Or did she smell something? Women, especially mothers, seemed to have an acute sense of smell.
They had to hear that one. Should I lie and tell them I missed breakfast and it was my stomach grumbling?
The gas bubble worked its way farther down.
Like it here? I’ll love it here. You people must have no sense of smell. Did I mention my empty fridge? And alimony? And a car payment due on a vehicle that now smells of guano? I’d work for half of what you’re offering. Now, if I can only get out of here before my gut explodes again.
Or you all catch a whiff of my sweaty ass. This leather seat is no help. No cloth cushion to soak up the fetid bouquet. And if this wet one escapes, on this plastic seat it’ll splatter and spray like a shit-filled balloon dropped on a sidewalk from five stories up.
I clenched my butt cheeks even tighter. Tighter than the first time that Army doctor snapped on a rubber glove, dipped his fat finger in government petroleum jelly and ordered me to bend over.
“Here’s the school calendar. We start the last week of August. You have plenty of time to become acquainted your texts and materials, the building, your classroom, and any faculty members who may be getting their classrooms ready for the new school year.”
Can we PLEASE wrap this up?
Perspiration pooled on my upper lip.
“I’ll be in first thing next week.” I smiled and started to get up.
“Oh, I failed to mention our benefits package. Excellent health plan,” said the super. “Maybe we should take a minute and go over the details.”
Please God, no! I need to get out of here. Now!
“No need. When she mailed me the application, your secretary included a brochure that outlined the benefits package. It was pretty self-explanatory. Yes, it’s a great plan.” I started to get up again.
“There is a $50 deductible for dental, however, but our in-network deductible is zero. No co-pay,” said the superintendent with pride.
“Very generous.” I smiled, stood up, and backed away from the conference table.
“And the prescription rider . . . ” said the super, standing up.
” Yes, an excellent plan,” I said, dabbing at the sweat on my upper lip with a handkerchief.
“OK, then. Again, welcome to our school system. Mr. Whittier, anything else?”
“No, not at this time. We’ll talk more during orientation.”
“A pleasure to meet you,” said the super holding out his hand.
“Same here, and thank you.” I smiled and shook hands with the super, Mr. Whittier and Rachel who gave me a weird smile. Did she catch a whiff of something when I stood up?
Surely they heard that one.
I backed out of the super’s office into the hall, smiling all the way. I turned and ran down the hall to the men’s room. Just in time. The foghorn-like blast that emanated from the lavatory stall was sure to cause all ships in Long Island Sound to turn around and head back to port. And anyone who followed me into this men’s room was sure to call the EPA.
Yes, I’ll see you all next week. After I send my pants to the dry cleaners and buy some new underwear — I should probably pick up a couple of three-packs at J.C. Penney. And after I get my car detailed. I’ll hang one of those pine-scented air fresheners from the rearview mirror and maybe throw a couple under the driver’s seat.
And after I stop off at that CVS and pick up some Beano and Imodium. And a box of Wet Wipes for the trunk of my car.
Maybe I’ll stop off and pick up a couple of six-packs to celebrate. I’ll call Ricky, tell him the good news, ask him over and order a couple of Pepperoni pizzas. And some garlic bread. Maybe some of those jalapeno poppers.