So I’m sitting there on the subway, just chilling, listening to my iPod and minding my own business. The train is full, there are people sitting in intimate proximity on my right and left, and a guy standing above me, holding the pole above his head with one hand and a newspaper in the other, swaying back and forth. I’m listening to “American Boy” by Estelle featuring Kanye West and I’m tapping my toes, although I know I should be listening to something more #relevant like Bon Iver or Best Coast in case the man of my dreams turns up and wants to compare play lists or something—this is the L train, after all.
The music blasts in my ears; it’s loud and I can barely hear the clatter of the train as it races through dark tunnels. My lips mouth the lyrics, “before he speak his suit bespoke. And you thought he was cute before, look at this pea coat tell me he’s broke!” I am immersed in my own soundless bubble; the world around me as ceased to exist as a place where anything but the funky beat of “American Boy” can be heard. I feel the momentary urge to fart, and so rapt in my own microcosm of Yeezy rap and finger drumming, instead of controlling the flow of air, allowing it to slip out slowly, silently, unnoticed, the way I normally would in public, I let it go in one foul raspberry.
And then I realize—if a fart comes out of my ass and I’m listening to my iPod and can’t hear it, it doesn’t mean that the people squished against me in the peak hour commute can’t either. In other words, although I am deaf to it, my tree fell in a forest heavily populated by people with healthy aural capacity.
I’m not sure how I feel or what I should do. Should I own it? Should I turn to the person next to me and apologize for essentially farting on them? Should I explain that I was so caught up in my own little world and the fact that I couldn’t hear anything but the music, I forgot everyone else could still hear? Am I even sorry? Am I really even embarrassed? I didn’t even hear it, so to me, it didn’t even really happen. Never mind the look of disgust the guy reading the newspaper is casting down upon me, or the glowering mother clutching her tiny child to my left—I can just continue to pretend I’m oblivious to it. I farted, I didn’t hear it, it never happened.
Again, when it happens as I’m walking down the street listening to music, I’ll ignore it. And on the plane, when I’m watching Paul Blart: Mall Cop and the rushing engines are obscuring my notion of reality, I’ll act like like Shaggy because it wasn’t me. The only time I’ll be slightly moved to shame is when I’m at work watching Youtube videos with my headphones in my ears, and, forgetting where I am for a split second, I let one rip. So if you ever find yourself by my side in a public place and you notice that my iPod is blaring, I suggest you make a hasty exit. I have a terrible habit of farting loudly when I forget that even though the beating tunes playing into my head impair my hearing, everyone else can still hear with perfect clarity.