The urge to puke hit me in the gut like a brutal body shot. I was halfway through a group boxing class where we had been switching exercises at a laughably fast pace. Squats! Heavy bag! Convulsions!
Our instructor, a former boxer and current psychopath, was hell-bent on seeing us quit or drown in a pool of our own sweat, whichever came first. Either would satisfy this twisted pugilist. I got the sense that he’d be disappointed if someone didn’t die today.
While this workout was arduous it was not the only reason I was on the cusp of throwing up onto the hardwood. Another factor was at play here. The fiftyish-year-old man in front of me was squirting out wet, noxious farts mid jumping jacks. The smell was a combination of boiled cabbage and rotting animal. My God, what had this man ate for breakfast?
I felt my face go numb, my stomach tightened, and the corners of my mouth bent downwards against my will. Vomiting seemed inevitable. I doubled over with my hands on my knees taking short, deliberate breaths.
I suspected this gas leak was a typical reaction for the man during rigorous workouts. When I ask too much of my body I dry heave like a sick dog while my classmate uncontrollably secretes rancid air biscuits. You’d have to be a sadist to drop ass in this hot box on purpose. And maybe he was, how am I supposed to know. He may travel from gym to gym rippling the back of his sweatpants with his gaseous emissions for kicks.
Whether this man was a deviant or not remains to be seen. The truth was that his garbage farts were making it nearly impossible for me to catch my breath. I moved to the left, then to the right, trying to dodge the nuclear-level sewage billowing out of his anus, but his stink seemed to be on me. The funk wrapped its hands around my throat trying to choke me out. I couldn’t decide whether to inhale through my nose or my mouth. Either way meant that the waste floating out of this stranger’s asshole would enter my bloodstream and poison me. Can inhaling too much human gas kill you? If someone had lit a match, the whole place would’ve gone up in a ball of flames.
Sensing my struggle, the farting man looked over his shoulder at me sympathetically. An admission of his guilt that made the stench no less severe. I angrily waved him off, my face twitching and my eyes watering. I glanced backward at the rest of the class and saw a woman nearby eyeballing me. She thought I was the perpetrator of this putrid punishment. I pointed at the man and mouthed, “It’s him.” She shook her head in disbelief.
I was on one knee when the instructor got in my face. “There are no breaks in the ring, son!” he screamed, a vein darted down the side of his left eye. “Yes, sir,” I said, forcing myself upright. If I had given any other answer, he would have punched my head right off my neck. Had I joined the military? If so, basic training was way worse than I could have ever imagined. “Fucking stinks in here people. That’s good. Means your pushing yourselves,” the instructor said, before barking out more commands.
I began moving again, slowly at first, then nearly keeping pace with the rest of the class. I never got back to 100%. The grueling exercises coupled with the indoor pollution had broken me. I wasn’t the same man I was when I walked in an hour ago. I was different now. I had been in the shit. Literally.
The class mercifully ended moments before I lost consciousness. I made my way to the exit. Sir Farts-A-Lot smiled at me apologetically as I left and I gave him the stink eye. A meager response to the torture he put me through.
I opened the doors and walked onto the sidewalk. I shut my eyes and inhaled long and deep like a man who had finally returned home after two tours of duty.
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