Hypothetically speaking, what if the lunch fare at one’s weekly meeting of philanthropists often left diners with a sense of . . . intestinal turmoil? What if many a Thursday–not all of them, certainly–included clutching at one’s midsection, hoping that none of the fellow meeting goers can see one’s distress as one drives out of the parking lot on the way toward one’s office across town? Would one necessarily become masterful at just smiling through the pain while waiting for it to pass? I suppose one would begin fantasizing about relief in one’s office rest room, before recalling that in that building, rooms are only separated by paper-thin walls, acting more like amplifiers than mufflers of decible-laden noise. At that point perhaps one recalculates one’s options, noting that there is also a family rest room in the first floor hallway.
Of course, at this point one may walk in, sphincter at red alert, and come to a disturbing scene in which some other human has decided to smear his or her excrement on the vinyl walls of the room. In all likelihood one would then back away in horror, nervously twitching and holding one’s nose in a vain attempt to shut out the wicked smell of decomposing stool. Oh, the humanity! Surely one would avoid coming into contact with any foreign substance, ducking into their own section of the building and smearing alcohol gel all over their topmost limbs up to their elbows, and over every inch of skin that had been exposed to the noxious air.
Maybe, just maybe, one would forget one’s own indigestion and simply cower at one’s desk, hoping the substantive content of one’s job was adequate for moving on from the terror of the previous 75 minutes. Perhaps one could find an Internet animated gif of a kitten jumping straight up and could move on emotionally to a better reality. And just say that at some point it would be time for one to head home to one’s toddler, who would pant at one through the living room window, calling out one’s name with a smile on his face, as if all was right with the world.
So in our hypothetical situation, say an entire week elapsed and one forgot the trauma of the previous Thursday, until such time that one came face-to-face with the same buffet, and what if it wasn’t until one was standing next to the “Spinach Chicken Cannolini” that one remembered the danger? Wouldn’t it look suspicious to one’s friends if one did not serve oneself, but acted as if one was better than the lunch presented? And then one would continue on with eating the meal and acting as if every internal organ agreed with the food consumption? And afterward one would smile again as one drove away, through gritted teeth and just enough taste of bile in the back of one’s mouth to set one into a real sense of urgency?
Wouldn’t that make a great short story?