Once upon a time there was an academic department at a Midwestern University that recruited international graduate students into is master’s degree program. The program was successful and, at the end of the summer of 2011, brought in a promising student to teach and study in their program. At least he was promising on paper, but he had one little problem that would curse all of those around him: chronic gastritis. The student’s name was Miguel, but for the purposes of this post we will can him Jose Emilio.

When the sub-director of the program picked him up at the airport, Jose Emilio confessed the dark secret of his recent struggles with a daunting condition that ran in his family: gastro-intestinal dysfunction. It was true. He had to endure painful intestinal cramping and his application to the graduate program indicated that he had lower levels of gastric function than what the university required. Nonetheless, faculty concurred that the candidate demonstrated the requisite digestive skills and believed that his skills would surely improve over time.

Back at the airport, the advisor was slightly moved by the admission of an obvious flaw in his constitution and thought to himself, “Well, it takes a hell of a man to admit he has a farting problem. Maybe his character will compensate for the lack that nature has given him.” Out loud the advisor said, “Since you are aware of the problem, you can take steps to ensure that you keep it under control. It’s a good idea to confront these types of challenges and meet them head on.” Encouraging pep talk concluded, the two picked up Jose Emilio’s luggage from the carousel and headed toward the parking lot. As they drove to the university, the advisor kept the window cracked, in the eventuality that his passenger would drop an F-Bomb.

This condition quickly became evident to Jose Emilio’s fellow graduate students and the instructor of the methodology class that the condition was a major distraction. It would usually happen when there was a slight lull in class discussion. A faint rumbling would emerge from the side of the room where Jose Emilio was sitting. That is, it would begin as a faint rumbling, like a “fhat-tum pah” of a snare drum, but the drum roll never seemed to end. It never reached its shit-mist crescendo and quickly turned into a incredibly monotonous drum solo.

Jose Emilio’s gas, however, was different. It was indefinable; it was post modern in the sense that it embodied a meditation and self-critical reflection on the essential qualities of gasiness. It was its own never-ending discourse, circuitous, and digressive. Secretly, Jose Emilio loved the attention it brought him. The slack-jawed look of complete astonishment in the listener’s faces when he let off a ripper made him feel special; it gave substance to his words and a deeper meaning to his message. He would bask in the steamy vapor of his self adulation. On the other side, it left other listeners exasperated and wondering where it was going and if it would ever come to an end. These air bagels were enough to turn lesson plans inside out, derail class discussion and send other graduate students gasping for fresh air and clarity.

To be continued…

Cross-posted at My Ongoing Struggle with Misanthopy: http://jimmygabacho.com/?p=780

Gabacho– according to the Dictionary of the Spanish Royal Academy– is derived from an old Provençal word “gavach,” meaning a person from the foothills of the Pyrenees who spoke incorrectly. These days, it means “outsider,” somebody who just doesn’t fit in.

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