Felony Breath

I spent the better part of my workday in one long meeting, the conference room table so full we were elbow to elbow all the way around. My mind wandered as the chairs wedged on either side of me pinched first an arm, then a hand –  and I caught the occasional smell of an unsavory scent. And as my mind wandered, I reflected on being brought up in the South where a high premium is placed on good manners. Being brought up right meant I was taught to respect my elders, hold the door for those behind me, and be gracious in my dealings with others. Never was I to stray from the path of courtesy. It was imperative to avoid being rude to others at all cost.

So how then was I to tell the man sitting next to me that his breath could bring a bull elephant to its knees?

It’s understandable that most people’s breath can’t constantly maintain the freshness of a spring zephyr, but this man (who shall be referred to as Mr. Malodor) didn’t have breath that fell into the temporary category of “Excuse me, I had garlic at lunch.” He had breath that fell into the category of “Hello, I chewed my way through a dumpster to sit beside you.”

As my eyes watered, and between dry heaves, I scanned the room for another seat. There were none. About that time something gave Mr. Malodor a reason to laugh. The floating blast of filthy stench that came from his mouth had me looking up to watch birds and stars encircle my head. Just as things were going black it was announced we would break for lunch. I came to, hopeful to make an escape.  Mr. Malodor stood to get his box lunch and as he disappeared into the hallway I decided I would stay put. Maybe the table would fill up before he got back and someone else could sit in the midst of his mouth fog, a cloud that could surely melt iron ore.

It was as I finished my lunch that I felt movement to my left. Mr. Malodor was back. He sat down and began to do what I feared most – talk directly to me. Subconsciously, I reached for the peppermint included with my box lunch. It would be no match for his laser breath, but it was my only defense.

“Mint?” I almost pleaded as I pushed it towards him.

“I stay away from sugar.” He said. “It rots the teeth.”

Too late sir.

He continued to assault me with the fetid fog. “How was your weekend?” He asked, with what seemed to be a very breathy “Howwww…”

“Oh I didn’t do much.” I answered curtly, trying to curb the conversation. Courtesy compelled me to ask, “And yours?”

“Great weekend for me. I went hiking for a couple days. Love to see the wildlife.” He puffed.

I had visions of him on the trail, skunks high-fiving as he passed. “Well done!” they’d say. And then I had visions of birds flying… and stars circling… Oh no, it was happening again… I was saved though, by people returning to their seats. Mr. Malodor pivoted to get back in place but left me with one putrid parting shot as he said “Yep, it was a fun trip until I lost my backpack. Not a big deal though. Nothing much in it except another pair of shoes and a map. Oh, and my toothbrush.”

You don’t say.

Stuart M. Perkins

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20 Comments

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20 responses to “Felony Breath

  1. You are going to make me lose my job this morning! I laughed so hard!! Great piece.

  2. I’ve been laughing hysterically while trying not to wake my sleeping kitty up. Love this! Been there!

  3. I’m still laughing at the image of skunks high fiving!

  4. When a story can get EVERETT to spew his coffee in the morning it is WELL written. Thank you for making us laugh – you can be sure we’ll follow Story Shucker and avidly await new posts!

  5. You are a terrific storyteller.

  6. Joyce

    That’s my Ole friend Stu. You make my day. Thank you.

  7. Amy Jarrett

    Stuart,

    I have enjoyed Marsha’s “Stuart Stories” for years and it is such a joy to be able to get a frequent fix now. Thanks for the blog and please, please keep writing.

  8. I like your stories. They are well written, and have a point!

  9. This was quite funny! I cannot believe he even lost his toothbrush. I guess hints are lost on him with the breath mint, curt tone, all you did to keep him from talking… Smile and now, it is over!

  10. You have a unique way of saying things. Wow to all I could manage today.

  11. Thanks for the much needed laugh! I love your writing.

  12. Wow that’s so funny and horrible at the same time. Feel for you really.

  13. Can’t people taste their own terrible breath?!??!?!? Great story.

  14. LOL and I love the skunks high-fiving

    I’m still giggling about it.

  15. rubble2bubble

    My husband is off, having his “quiet time”…my son has left…my daughter is near me in our livingroom, enmeshed in a videogame. The house is otherwise very q u i e t….the stillness broken only periodically with mom’s body-cleansing belly laugh… Good one! …again.

  16. I almost died laughing. This is so funny!

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