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March 16, 2009

Who farted?

March 16. Day 259.

Months ago, I invited anyone from Asker, Norway who glances upon this site to drop me a line. Today, I got my first answer ever! It's from Tom, an authentic Askerite! Askerino! (I'll have to, er, ask him which is right.)

Here's his message:

I'm from Asker in Norway! I've lived here all my life... 25 years. I like it alot! ;)
There are many beautiful places in Norway and Asker is one of them! We have nature right out side our doors, lakes and even the ocean!

Well... Just thought I would drop you a line, since I found your site ;)

That totally made my day. I will write back once I finish this chapter draft. I've told my self NO EMAILS until I finish this damn chapter. So. Close!!! (Also why I've been slow to update, lately.)


Starting this project, I imagined I'd be asking for: a better starting salary or a better deal on a car, among other things. Certainly not this...

But here are the facts you need to know before passing judgment:

Around 3 p.m. in the neighborhood of Normal Heights, I found myself sitting next to three individuals in a popular cafe. They were:

1) a young man with a video game addiction
2 & 3) a pair of work colleagues editing some digital videos, passing a pair of chunky headphones back and forth and making comments.

They all sat down at roughly the same time. Roughly ten minutes after they joined the area of this cafe where I was sitting, a foul stench permeated the region.

I brushed it off (so to speak), chanted "mind over matter," and dug deeper into my work.

Until it happened again. And again.

Now my mind was racing.

Was it the guy? Classic dweeb, dressed in a computer contest shirt, focused on his Warcraft to the point of refusing eye contact with people who tried to walk past him and needed him to move his knees. Self-absorption to the point of solipsism. Prime candidate. Yet -- I hate to stereotype.

So was it one of the video duo? Under deadline. Focusing so hard. So hard. Whoops. There goes another. ...Yes, it was possible, but less likely. The whole "negative peer pressure" thing went against that theory. Or did it? Because precisely that theory incriminates one of them. No one would think he would be so bold, sitting so close to a colleague -- so all the more reason to go for it?

I found a paper and actually fanned myself for a few moments, but to no avail.

Half an hour into this assault, a man walked up to me and tried to get by.

"Is anyone sitting there?" he asked, and pointed to a rare empty seat in the cafe.

"I don't think you want to sit there," I said, not too loudly -- but certainly within earshot of my closest neighbors. "It smells bad. I think someone --" And I glanced their way.

I didn't know how else to put it. And I hoped that would be a hint to the offender that yes, everyone within 15 feet can feel it.

That man, meanwhile, retreated to a different section. At one point he looked at me and shrugged amicably, as in "What canya do? Sucks to be you."

The cafe was full. Except for two seats -- one next to the computer player, and one next to where that man had spread out his stuff.

I rushed over.

"Can I sit here?"

"Of course. I'll just scoot over."

"Phew. Thanks!"

Gained: Oxygen!!!
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