Monday, December 20, 2004

Human Belches Wake Us and We Drown

What is it about belching? As a child, I used to get reprimanded for letting out a burp in public, or at home for that matter. Even though I knew that saying, “Excuse me” would go a long way toward forgiveness, it was still drilled into me that one did not willingly belch loud enough for all in close proximity to hear.

This weekend at the early Xmas celebration, I heard my father, my brother and my cousin’s boyfriend—obviously comfortable in our company—let go with champion belches, loud enough to shake the foundations of my aunt’s suburban home. Each time I fired a look in their direction and made a few choice comments (“That was well brought up. Why weren’t you?”), but no one seemed bothered. I don’t really care. I’m not overly sensitive. God knows I am capable of slovenly behavior from time to time. But jeesh…

At work this morning, walking outside my boss’ door, I heard yet another loud, proud and roaring belch. I looked over at him, stripped down into his undershirt, hair thin and pant legs rolled like in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, minus the beach.

“That was pleasant, thanks,” I said.

“Hey man, I got a problem.”

I didn’t ask him to elaborate.

The years go by and I grow old, (trousers rolled… human voices wake us… do I dare to eat a peach?… all that) and as I do I notice my manners improving. Or my sensibilities becoming more delicate. Or my tolerance for humanity diminishing. I have measured out my life in coffee spoons full of black hatred. Perhaps I should try black tar?

Chasing the dragon, I remain,

Grumpy old V. Robert Prufrock