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The Gas Bubble: A Cautionary Tale

The gas bubble Beware the Gas Bubble! (Portion of clip art image courtesy of and

This tale was sent to us from a man who is a personal friend of long standing, as well as an out-of-state follower of Because we suspect there may well be other fans of extreme hot wings within our readership, we offer this cautionary tale. For those who won’t be warned: remember, we tried to help.


I’ve developed a taste for spicy hot foods, and one of my favorite places to eat is Buffalo Wild Wings. They have a gradient scale for wing sauce, with 16 different degrees of heat.

I’ve worked my way up the scale to Number 14: Mango Habañero. It’s really hot, and has the unfortunate side effect of causing gastrointestinal distress the next morning, which usually gets me banished to my work shop until the distress subsides.

A while back, I ate at Buffalo Wild Wings and had a dozen of my Mango Habañeros. They were so good I ordered another half-dozen and ate those as well. When I got home and checked my schedule for the next day, I discovered I had my semi-annual medical check-up scheduled for 9 AM. Not good timing.

I arrived the next morning on time and was immediately escorted to an exam room. The doctor arrived shortly thereafter, along with a young lady he introduced as a recent medical school graduate who was assigned to “shadow” him for a week. The check-up proceeded as usual until he had me lie on the exam table and began probing my stomach with his fingertips. He turned to the young lady and said, “Feel this, it’s a gas bubble.” I briefly considered warning them about the hazards of poking at a Mango Habañero Gas Bubble, but thought better of it since they’re doctors, and surely know what they’re doing. She probed with her fingertips, then with the fingertips of both hands. What she did next has no possible rational explanation. She leaned her upper body onto her hands, putting extreme pressure on the gas bubble.

At this point, I must explain, this was not the only gas bubble. There was another that had been seeking exit for the past half-hour. I had it under control until she created additional pressure. It entered the world with a dramatic roar that had to have been heard in the waiting room. Very embarrassing. The doctor laughed, the young lady giggled….until they were enveloped by the aroma, an aroma that curls nose hair and peels paint from walls. The young lady said, “I think I’m going to be sick,” and quickly exited the exam room. The doctor followed her out.

A couple of minutes later, the nurse entered the exam room, took a couple of steps, turned and made a quick exit. After another couple of minutes, the exam room door opened about six inches and an arm came through the opening, with the hand holding a spray can of lemon-scented air freshener. I presumed it was the nurse. From behind the almost-closed door, she began spraying, frantically waiving the can in all possible directions. After perhaps a half-minute, she entered the room, still frantically spraying. She slowly crossed the room, and had begun making a return trip when the can sputtered empty. She made her exit, leaving the room in a thick haze.

After about ten minutes the haze settled and the nurse returned, apparently to check air quality, and again exited. But, by this time I was fighting another gas bubble. I was able to allow it entrance to the world without dramatic sound effects, but the same wonderful aroma did follow.

At this point, assured by the nurse that the air quality had improved, the doctor entered the room with the young lady close behind. They walked into the fresh gas bubble, turned in unison and, without having said a word, walked out as if they were part of a precision drill team. As the door closed I heard the doctor say in an amazed voice, “And that was after a whole can of air freshener!”

After a couple of minutes, the door again opened about six inches and the nurse, speaking from the hallway, said, “Sir, we need to move you to another exam room.” We moved down the hall to another exam room, where the doctor and the young lady were waiting. The remainder of the exam was completed in record time and I was quickly dismissed. Returning to the waiting room, I passed the original exam room I had been in; they had the door propped open and a box fan running in the doorway.

I still enjoy Mango Habañero wings, but I do check my next-morning schedule before ordering them.

Mike Benzen,

Marshfield, Missouri

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