Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bill's Belch

The string quartet played each quiet note perfectly on pitch. Each table was covered in the finest white linen. The staff were immaculate, and each patron dressed in the best formal dining attire. Every crystal glass sparkled, every silver spoon glistened, and every fine china plate glowed. No table had been reserved for less than a month, and no one mentioned that there were no prices on the menu. The food, the wine . . . everything about the evening was exquisite. Everything and everyone, except Bill.

Bill looked like everyone else, but something was boiling in Bill's belly. Something he had eaten earlier in the day had given him the worst case of indigestion he had ever had. His wife knew he did not look well, "Darling, you look pale." Bill's one word response drained the blood from her face, "Indigestion." "Oh, no," she whispered. You see, Bill had never belched quietly in his life. It simply was not in him, or rather, when it was in him it was simply not within his ability to let it out quietly. And, if Bill had a character defect, it was that he did not care. He was still a man and belching was his last act of masculine rebellion in the primped and polished world in which he lived.

That evening, that perfect evening, Bill did not disappoint. The water boy dropped his pitcher. Plates full of perfectly placed morsels spilled across the floor as waiters stumbled and fell. The maitre d' thought a wild animal had somehow found its way into the restaurant. One woman near Bill screamed from pain. The belch had so stunned her that she had stabbed herself in the cheek as she took a bite. Red wine spilled across tables and into laps, staining perfect linens and clothing. The cellist broke his bow. Only the buss boy in the corner smiled.

The face of Bill's wife, once pale from loss of blood, now looked like an overripe tomato. She said, with venom in each syllable, "Excuse You!" Bill, looking at the shock and disgust of the room, replied, "No, I excuse myself." He stood, dropped his napkin on the table, and walked out grinning from ear to ear . . . self-justified, self-assured, and all by himself.