I’m about to reach a new professional low by discussing something that happened to me at Wal-Mart a while ago. Hang on, folks; A.J. is about to go lowbrow.
I didn’t realize there is a name for what happened to me. Actually, I didn’t even realize it was a thing that needed to be named.
We had gone to Wal-Mart as a family on a Sunday afternoon, as we often did back when my ex and I were still together. Say what you will about Wal-Mart and the type of people that shop there, but a trip to Wal-Mart can be considered a family social outing for those of us who live in towns with less than 500 people.
The Big Guy took the boys to do whatever it is that the male of the species does when released into the wilds of a Wal-Mart. I only know that this involves toys, electronics, automotive, sporting goods, hardware and the clearance aisle – all in the amount of time it takes me to say, “Oooh, look, BOGO!”
The Princess, who already owns enough clothes to dress the entire continent of Africa, took off for the ladies clothing department. I hit the nearby boys’ department to look for cheap pants for my youngest, because the child has never yet met the pair of pants that he can’t blow the knees out of in under a week. I found a shelf full of little boy pants with reinforced knees and bent over to search for his size.
And that’s when it happened.
It hit me slowly, caught me by surprise. I stood up and looked around, thinking that surely I must be mistaken. But no, there it was again.
I had a brief Steve Urkel moment. Dear God, I thought, did I do that?
Then it really hit, and I knew there was no way that could have come out of my body without my knowledge.
Or quite possibly an episiotomy.
Wave upon wave of stench so strong that the very air around me shimmered like summer heat over a blacktop road. My eyes watered, my stomach churned; I covered my mouth to keep from gagging, only to realize that this left my nose as my only means of getting oxygen and there was just no way in hell I wanted to breath that in through my nose.
I expected to hear alarms going off at any minute, or for the cloud of toxic gas to trigger the sprinkler system at the very least. For an instant, I thought about using my cell phone to text the Big Guy to save the children.
I looked around again, assuming that someone nearby must be in the process of taking a crap right there in the middle of Wal-Mart. But no, there was no one in my immediate area.
No one but me, that is.
There were two women standing a few racks away from me, giving me dirty looks and waving their hands in front of their faces to clear the air. To my left, a tidy-looking gray-haired woman was hauling ass toward the electronics department with a huge smile on her face. To my right, my daughter was laughing so hard that she was on the brink of passing out.
“What the hell just happened?” I demanded.
“You got fart-bombed, Mom,” she giggled.
“Fart-bombed. You know, when you’re in public and you’ve got to fart, so you look around until you see somebody who looks like the kind of person who would fart in public,” she explained. “Then you walk behind them and let it go and just keep walking, and everybody thinks it was the other person, not you.”
I thought about the little gray-haired woman. Well, that certainly explained the smile. I’d be smiling too if I’d just released something that noxious from my body. Good Lord, that poor woman probably felt as though she had just given birth to a 20-pound alien baby.
“Well,” I said, “She’s either heading for the Women’s’ department for new underwear, or the ladies’ room to wipe.”
Then a thought occurred to me.
“Wait a minute. You’re saying that I look like someone who would fart in public?”
“Well . . . .”
“Seriously? That woman blasted one out behind me because I look like a good person to blame for that?”
My daughter is no fool. She said the only safe thing she could possibly say at that moment.
“I love you, Mommy?”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I now wear only formal attire to my local Wal-Mart. Ain’t nobody gonna fart-bomb a woman in heels and pearls.