by Dee Newman
Back then on Sunday mornings I often would go to The Slice of Life to have breakfast or brunch. Being a vegan there were not many restaurants in Nashville that had soysage and scrambled tofu on the menu. However, on this particular Sunday I arrived at the restaurant rather late. It was nearly noon. So, I decided to order from the lunch menu and have one of my favorite meals, Black beans and broccoli with cornbread.
As I recall, the place was unusually void of customers . . . there was a young couple in the corner by the window who were obviously still feeling the effects and afterglow of their morning’s love-making, two young women who looked like Vanderbilt students, and a table with three young men, possibly brothers, and an older couple who were, more than likely, their parents.
As I was finishing up my meal, I turned to the movie section of the Sunday Tennessean and noticed that Alien was playing at Cinema South out off Nolensville Pike. I had not seen it when it was first released back in 1979. Looking at the clock on the wall I realized I had only fifteen minutes to get there before the feature began.
Although the drive out to Cinema South was uneventful, it took me a good twenty minutes. Fortunately, when I arrived there was no line. I paid the attendant and quickly went to the theater on the right. It was packed. I stood at the back for awhile to let my eyes get adjusted and then walked down the left isle looking first to my to my right and then to my left trying to find an empty seat. I was unsuccessful.
After returning to the back of the theater and moving to my right, I continued to search the theater in vain for an empty seat. By now the previews were over and the feature had begun. Feeling a bit foolish and frustrated, I slowly began to walk down the isle on the right side of the theater. Completing what I thought was a thorough investigation, I concluded that there was no empty seat to be found.
And then, suddenly, I saw it . . . on the eighth row, near the middle.
“Excuse me, excuse me,” I whispered as I tried in vain to unobtrusively make my way to the only empty seat in the theater, causing a disturbance that was viewed by the audience, I’m sure, as an unnecessary nuisance. When I finally arrived at my seat, I realized I was in the exact center of the theater.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the award winning sci-fi horror film, I should, perhaps, before I continue with my tale, acquaint you with the plot of the movie.
While on a return trip from Thedus to Earth, the commercial spaceship, Nostromo, hauling twenty million tons of ore and a refinery, receives a mysterious transmission from a nearby planetoid. The ship's computer awakens the seven-member crew.
After consulting with their corporate employers, the crew lands on the planetoid, damaging their ship. Captain Dallas, Executive Officer Kane, and Navigator Lambert set out to investigate the source of the signal. Warrant Officer Ripley who is played by Sigourney Weaver, Science Officer Ash, and the two Engineers Brett and Parker stay behind to make repairs on Nostromo.
Dallas, Kane, and Lambert soon discover that an abandoned spaceship is transmitting the unknown signal. Inside the ship they discover the remains of a large alien creature. Meanwhile, Warrant Officer Ripley determines that the transmission is apparently some type of warning.
In his exploration of the alien ship Executive Officer Kane discovers a huge chamber containing a vast number of eggs. A creature is releases from one of the eggs and attaches itself to Kane’s face. Dallas and Lambert carry the unconscious Executive Officer back to Nostromo. Despite the warning from Warrant Officer Ripley to follow the ship's quarantine procedures, Science Officer Ash allows all three of the men to come aboard.
While unsuccessfully attempting to remove the creature from Kane's face, they discover that its blood is in fact an extremely corrosive acid. Eventually, the creature detaches itself from Kane’s face on its own and is later found dead.
After Nostromo is repaired, the crew resumes their trip back to Earth. Soon, Kane awakens, apparently unharmed. All seems well.
Now, back to my tale.
While the minutes ticked by and the suspense and tension within the theater intensified, I began to gradually experience a bloating feeling in my gut from the black beans and broccoli I had eaten earlier. As many of you may know black beans and broccoli belong to a group of cruciferous vegetables that are notorious for both increasing the amount of gas produced in the intestines and its potent pungency.
Consequently, (though I became increasingly uncomfortable as my gut continued to fill with gas) I was determined to not release any of the noxious fumes from my bowels and further alienate (no pun intended) my fellow audience members who were already annoyed with me for my late arrival.
Unfortunately, fate had a significantly different plan. As Executive Officer Kane began to eat, and then, convulsively choke on his first meal after his harrowing experience, suddenly, an alien creature bursts from his chest, killing him and shocking the entire audience. As you may well imagine, at that very moment, the gas that had been building up in my gut simultaneously burst from my butt. The sound of the thunderous release was so loud that it was heard by the attendants in the lobby. There was nothing I could have done to prevent it.
Every person sitting in the rows in front of me immediately turned around to determine who had produced the thunderous explosion. I would have turn myself and pretended the blast had come from someone behind me, but I knew that the folks to my left and right and behind me were fully aware of who the culprit was. So, instead I tried to diminish my stature by slouching as far down in my seat as possible. Finally, after what seems like an eternity, the folks in front of me turned around and went back to watching the movie.
However, to my detriment, the ordeal had not found its end. My flatulent outburst was not only deafening, its odor was overwhelmingly offensive and began to invade and assault the nostrils of the audience in an ever widening sphere until folks, once more, were turning around to look at me in disgust. But now, there were daggers coming out of their eyes.
The woman who was sitting directly in front of me turn to her husband and said loud enough for everyone in the theater to hear, “That has to be the worst smelling fart I have ever experienced!” Sadly, not only was her assessment correct, the fart’s pungent intensity seemed to take forever to diminish.
At this point in my tale, I usually jump ahead several months to a scene at the old Spaghetti Factory. I’m seated at a table with one of my closest and dearest friends, Irwin Goldzweig. For nearly a decade, we had been meeting there twice a year to celebrate each other’s birthdays.
After discussing a number of issues and concerns, Irwin began focusing on the depressing prospect that Bill Boner was going to be Nashville’s next mayor, declaring that he, himself, would run against Boner if it were not for the fact that he had been such a vociferous activist and protester of the Vietnam War.
Suddenly, I began to laugh, uncontrollably. Irwin became quite irritated with me. He was serious and thought I was laughing at him and his concerns for Nashville’s future under Boner’s leadership or lack there of.
As soon as I was able to regain my composure, I explained to Irwin that I too was unable to run for the office of Mayor because there were several hundred people throughout the city who would immediately recognize me as the man who discharged the loudest and worst smelling fart that they had ever experienced and ruined their viewing of one of the all time best sci-fi horror films ever made.
As I was completing my explanation, a woman seated at the table next to us turned and said, “I thought you looked familiar.”