The belch heard ‘round the world | Mark’s Remarks

Our hospital in my hometown of Fairfield has been around for a long time. 

It was always a mysterious building to me when I was little, mostly because I was unable to go inside of it much. I remember waving up to mom when she had my brother in 1971.  

But until I was around 7 or 8, I’d never set foot in the hospital.

It was with great excitement that I learned one day I would have to accompany my mom to the hospital to visit someone. For whatever reason, there was no one to watch me and I would need to sit and read quietly in the waiting room of the hospital.  

Although I was pretty well-behaved, mom said we would eat supper at Dairy Queen when we were finished.  

So, there I sat in the gleaming waiting room, surrounded by 1950s decor and the smell of, well, clean.  

After a while, I tired of looking around and decided the hospital reminded me of the library, also built in the 1950s and also very clean and orderly. I finally settled in and read the book I’d brought along.

It wasn’t long before mom reappeared, most likely pleased that I was sitting there behaving and hadn’t moved from the spot she’d told me to sit in.

I’d been to the water fountain about 50 times and had put my hand in the dirt of the planter sitting next to me, but she didn’t need to know all the details.

Of course, the best part of the night was now going to happen. As mentioned earlier, we would now go to DQ to have supper, and I had been anticipating what I would order.

You see, now that I was an older kid who could sit in waiting rooms unattended, it was time to be more grown-up about my entree choices.

I could no longer be expected to order the regular cheeseburger and fries with a small Coke.

Recently, we’d gone to DQ with some family friends and their daughter, a good three years older than I and a person I admired, had ordered a “super chili dog.” I had watched in fascination at how she polished off that meal, even biting the chili dog in two so it was easier to eat.

I thought it was the epitome of cool. 

And so, knowing how much more mature I was now, I trotted into DQ and bellied up to the bar. One super chili dog, fries and a medium Coke.

Yes sir.

I’m sure mom probably asked me if I thought I could eat all of that, or she told me I would eat all of it if I ordered it.

In any case, I ate the whole thing. And, as the old commercial said, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.”

As we got up to leave, mom saw some friends sitting near the exit.  

I stood there like the mature child I now was, and noticed that I felt quite full and even maybe a little taut. With the chili dog sitting on my stomach, topped with fries and a Coke, I was somewhat of a time bomb.

And then it happened.  I’m sure it was a harmless little burp, but in my mind’s eye and with my flair for dramatics, it was a guttural explosion that knocked Mrs. Gruen’s wig sideways.

Mrs. Gruen owned the restaurant, by the way.

I’ve told this story a bunch of times, and I’m sure it gets a little more animated and embellished every time I tell it. But after I unleashed that belch that could not be contained, every eye in the joint turned to look at me.

“Could such a noise come from that skinny little kid?” I could tell what they were thinking.

It was the first time I experienced public embarrassment and as we walked to the car, I cried a little.

“Oh, no one cares that you burped!” That was mom’s gentle reassurance.

Still, I wondered if I’d be in the newspaper the next day. There was a column in there called “Fairfield’s Personal Doings” and I was sure I’d be the top headline for disturbing the peace.

And every time I tell this story, I get a hankering for chili dogs.

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