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That Friday Janet woke extraordinarily gassy. From the lingering smell in her bedroom, kind of a burnt rubber mixed with decomposing Bibb lettuce, it seemed as though her intestines had been working overtime while she slept peacefully. 



The gas, if surprising in its ferocity, was hardly unexpected since every Thursday night without fail, Janet hit the happy hour at Don Cuco’s on Riverside Drive in Burbank and would, after three or four margaritas, succumb to her almost constant craving for the restaurant’s massive bean and cheese burrito. So Janet did what she always did, stirred two heaping teaspoons of fiber into a glass of water and gulped it down, took her shower and got ready for work.

As usual, Janet got to work early. Not ten or fifteen minutes, but at 7 am, a solid two hours before any of her colleagues got in. She usually finished everything that needed to get done for the day by 9:00 and could then spend the ensuing 10 hours attending useless meetings, talking about strategic initiatives with her boss, and networking. All the things an upwardly mobile, rising star was supposed to do. 


On her way into the building, Janet stopped to admire herself in the mirrored wall of the plush lobby. She looked good. Better than good. She looked great. The past six months at the gym and some new business clothes that hugged her curves just enough to let the male-dominated studio brass know that a she was a woman to be reckoned with. She’d taken extra care getting ready this morning after degassing and showering because today, this woman to be reckoned with was getting promoted. At 9:00 sharp, she had a meeting with her boss to make it official. Her dark skirt hit her mid thigh and her Manolos – perhaps half an inch to high – made her legs look even longer and more supple. She brought her A-game.


By 8:45, Janet had finished her work for the day and went to the bathroom, did a quick hair and makeup retouch, popped a breath mint and headed back to her desk. It was between the fifth and sixth steps that the gas bubble appeared. Knowing that there was no one else in the office, she paused, gave a little push and smiled at the satisfying pfffft. The faint smell of beans and margarita wafted around her as she strode purposefully down the hall.


Back in her office, she was trolling industry web sites getting the day's news from Variety and Hollywood Reporter and could hear the office coming to life around her. People paused at her door and said hello, one of which was her boss who smiled his blindingly  white smile of a thousand caps, pointed to his watch and held up 5 fingers. Janet smiled and nodded. In five minutes she was going to become Vice President


For some Janet’s relentless pursuit of the next step of the corporate ladder would seem a bit hollow and unfulfilling. But for a girl raised by a single, alcoholic mother who was prone to deliver beatings and then had put herself through school at Yale working as a waitress, Janet’s focus, her obsessive career climbing was a way to ensure she’d never be poor again. Or be beaten on. Or made to feel ashamed. Especially feel ashamed. Janet spent her first 18 years submerged in a sea of shame for everything from her mother’s drunken appearance at her debate team challenges to the appearance of their ramshackle house to the clothes she fished out of the dumpster behind the Goodwill store.  No, today Janet’s shame would forever be banished.

At 8:55, Janet felt another gas bubble and swore to herself she’d never eat another Don Cuco burrito. She thought about swearing never to have another drink, but that seemed a bit, well, excessive. She felt the bubble worming its way through her intestines and growing just a bit, picking up steam and velocity with each zzzip and grrrbl. Finally, at 8:56 just as it poised right behind the gateway of her anus, the fart stopped, hovering like a big pregnant belly, teasing. Janet sighed a little sigh, leaned back in her black Aeron chair, spread her legs a little and bore down. The far escaped, loud and flapping, sounding like a Harley Davidson muffler just before the machine changes gears. It was a satisfying sound and an even more satisfying feeling. Satisfying that is, until Janet realized that it wasn’t just a fart and she’d actually shit herself. 



Janet bolted out of the chair and rushed to her office door, waddling like a penguin in a desperate attempt to somehow keep her thighs and ass cheeks apart from furthering the mess. She stopped at her office threshold and saw people teeming up and down the hallway. The bathroom was at the other end of the Green Mile and there was no way she could run that gauntlet of gossipmongers without someone figuring out that a grown woman, an about to be vice president of industry had pooped her panties. It was 8:57.  She closed the door, which had no lock. She paused and thought what to do. She knew that desperate times called for desperate measures, so, even though the door had no lock, she hiked up her skirt pinning it under her elbows and kicked off her shoes. Hands shaking, she pulled and tugged her panty hose off, jumping around on one foot then the other. Finally, she carefully removed her pink, Fruit of the Loom panties the last man she slept with told her she looked so good in. Sure enough, they contained an enormous, dark chocolate-colored blob of what was once a rather delightful burrito. It was 8:58.


Just then, there was knock on the door and Janet, her skirt up and her business bared to anyone who might come through the door, began to panic. “Not now!”


 How had this happened? Janet wondered. The morning’s two farts felt identical and like, well, farts. There was no indication of substance behind either of them. Janet knew she was not the first person in the world that had to deal with a loaded fart. Nevertheless, she would have a difficult time explaining why she was squatting behind her work desk with no underwear wiping her bare ass to anyone who walked in on her. She was pulled out of her reverie with another knock on the door. A glance at the clock told her it was now 8:59. 

“I’ll be out in a minute!” Like a chafed penguin, she pushed herself back behind her desk, grabbed the box of tissues, squatted and began wiping and swiping, rubbing and buffing. Sixty-seven tissues later she grabbed the bottle of water from her desk, dampened the last four tissues and finished the cleaning job. She thought about sending an instant message to her boss telling him that his boss had called her unexpectedly and she was wrapping up and would be just a minute late. But that was a lie easily revealed and in no time everyone in the office would know and in a business where deft, unverifiable lies were the traded currency, Janet would be finished just as she was about to really begin.  “Be there in just a sec!”

Janet stood, pulled her skirt down. She grabbed a plastic bag from a drawer and entombed the soiled panties along with the pantyhose that were guilty by association. She opened the window and dropped the bag thirty-seven stories into the parking lot. She’d closed the window before the bag even hit the ground. She opened the door to find her boss’s assistant, an unscrupulously stupid brunette that made no pretense of hiding her willingness to build her career on a physical flexibility that, according to several young male interns in the mail room, allowed her to practically perform cunnilingus on herself.  “I’m ready.”  As Janet followed the assistant down the hall to her boss’s corner office and for a moment was surprised at how much she delighted in the breeze brushing her freshly waxed nether parts while she walked, thinking it was a quite thrilling to not being wearing any underwear. This secret, like those she harbored about certain actors and directors and producers in her contact list made her feel powerful, and, she thought to herself, vice presidential.  The brunette announced her and Janet entered, the door closing behind her. She and her boss shook hands and they sat down in the supple, orange-brown leather wingback chairs that enfolded Janet like a cocoon, feeling like a man’s hand against her bare legs. She focused her mind, willing to be present, to soak up every detail of the moment. 


This moment: the hard-fought payoff for being born to a mother with no real sense of self or purpose and a father with too much; for suffering the slings and arrows of her Yale classmates who spent vacations and summers in luxury they neither earned nor deserved. This moment, Janet thought, was for the thousands of hours she spend carefully shaping herself and crafting her career that would bring her wealth that would never disappear and make her necessary to so many important people. Yes this moment was one to savor, to burn into the retina of her mind so that every time she closed her eyes it’s image was there.  Just as she was thinking this, mentally orgasming in her triumph over poverty, over bigotry, over gender inequality, and most importantly over the lethargy programmed into her DNA by her parents, Janet crossed her long, supple, now panty hose-less legs and saw the shit-stained tissue hanging from her Manolo. 

“So, we both know why we’re here today…” Janet’s cheeks flamed with shame. She could see her boss’s lips moving, but heard nothing.

Janet mentally rewound the walk down the hall recalling that she passed at least a half dozen people who must have seen the poopy paper flapping on her heel. While she certainly didn’t expect her boss’s assistant to show any sense of decency, none of the people along the way said anything. Not a word. These people she worked with every day for almost two years. As hard as Janet worked to get where she was, and as driven as she was to get where she was going, she certainly wouldn’t allow one of them to walk into a meeting with their boss wearing shit on their shoe. 


What was happening in our society that reveled in such undeserved public shaming? How is it that politicians can start an unnecessary war and get re-elected but Janet, through hard work, dedication, and fair play gets thrown to the wolves for something like this?

Created: Jan 26, 2011


rbripley Document Media