Tim Johnson felt like an outcast. He floated around the snack table giving nods to the passersby as they made eye contact with him.
Tim had been dating Marlene for a month now and he was ready to take the next step. So, when she asked him if he would come with her to this coworker function, he didn’t feel like he had the grounds to say no. This was the first time they would be out in public as a couple. It just sucked that it had to be with a bunch of Ivy League professors, even if Marlene was one herself.
Tim continued to nod. He felt more and more like a bobble head. He imagined himself as one. Those stupid over exaggerated features that somehow managed to never look at all the person they were supposed to be modeled after. He wondered how he could possibly communicate with these people when he had never even finished community college.
He looked desperately on as Marlene was in the middle of a circle of her coworkers animatingly telling some story. They all were laughing politely.
She seemed so much different than them. He loved her for it.
He loved her.
He hadn’t told her that yet.
“You must be Tim.” Someone said.
Tim spun to see a shorter, balding fellow sticking his hand out.
“err…yes.” Tim said as he shook hands with the man.
“Nice to meet you.” The man said. “My name’s John Ferrison. I’m the History Professor here. Are you having a good time? You look nervous.”
“Yeah, maybe just a little.” Tim lied. “Just not the crowd I’m used to. This isn’t the kind of place you’d want to tell a fart joke.”
Ferrison laughed. “Funny you should say that. Did you know that the oldest recorded joke is a fart joke?”
“Really?” Tim asked.
“Oh yeah.” Ferrison said. “It goes like this. “Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young woman did not fart in her husband’s lap.””
Ferrison Chuckled. Tim took that as he cue to laugh as well.
“Ferrison’s not telling his “Oldest Joke” again is he?” Another man said as he walked up by the two of them.
“This is Jack Dance one of our Chemistry Professors.” Ferrison said gesturing to the newcomer. “Jack,” He continued. “This is Tim Johnson, Marlene’s date.”
“Ah nice to meet you!” Jack said. “Now for a real fart joke. “Why couldn’t the chemist laugh at the King’s fart?”
“Because noble gases are non-reactive.” Jack said with a hoot of laughter. The others joined in.
A third person walked over. Tim soon learned that this was Mary Oakheart, a literary professor. She too had a fart joke.
“It’s actually Shakespeare’s.” She said. “He wrote it in his story “A Comedy of Errors.” It goes like this. “A man may break a word with you, sir; and words are but wind; Ay, and break it in your face, so he break it not behind.”” She let out a snort of laughter and the two other men laughed as well.
Tim wasn’t sure what the joke meant. He had never understood Shakespeare. Oakheart must have read his expression, because she explained that it basically said that it was better for a man to break his word with you than to fart in your face.
Tim had to agree.
He looked at the crowd that had gathered around him and knew that he had a social obligation to fulfill. He had to come up with a fart joke now. There was just one problem. He couldn’t think of any. He racked his brain trying to come up with something but the only thing that came didn’t come out of his mouth. It came from his ass. It was loud, long, and seconds later Tim would find out that it stunk. About that same time, he would also be standing alone and would stay that way for the rest of the night.