(Editor’s note: The following, like all of my accounts as a substitute teacher, is best qualified as creative non-fiction. Though the account is true, the site, school, grade, or subject may have been modified. More importantly, the names of the students have all been changed.)
Esme: Mr. Flowers, Braydon won’t stop burping.
I was surrounded by students, all wanting my attention, but I could hear, from across the room, the discordant noises of a rude belly full of gas.
Me: Ok, ok. Have a seat, everybody. No, now.
I stood and walked over to the table labeled DIGNITY.
Entire class, except for Esme, erupts in laughter.
Me: Dude! I’m standing right here. Are you crazy or something?
B: I’m sorry Mr. Flowers, I can’t help it. I drank my soda too fast.
Me: Ok, no worries. But instead of belching why not try just blowing the air out.
B: What do you mean? BWAAAAAAP!
Me: (Trying not to laugh) I mean. You don’t have to force it out, just try and do it quietly.
B: But I don’t know how.
Me: Ok, how about this…
Me: (over the laughter) just relax, that’s it. Now don’t focus on your stomach just concentrate on not burping.
Braydon looked up at me, doubtful, then took a deep breath, blew it out and tried to relax.
A minute went by, followed by another, then another. I smiled at him and he smiled back.
Me: See, what did I tell you, all you have to do is rela…
It seemed to go on forever and ever. No one was laughing, we all looked on in silence until he finally finished.
Alec: Dude. That was the GREATEST BURP EVER!!!!
An atom bomb of laughter.
Me: (genuinely worried) Bray, you alright man?
Braydon looked up at me smiling and relieved, like he had just had a giant splinter removed from his palm.
B: Yeah, I’m fine. I think I’ll be ok now Mr. Flowers. I just had to get that out.
Took me twenty minutes to get everyone back on track.