My intercom buzzed. "Phenix, come in here. Bring your yellow tablet."
When Congressman Pickle said to bring your yellow tablet, that usually meant something big was happening. It was springtime in Washington and everyone was enjoying the respite from the unusually cold winter. But once in the office, Pickle never rested. He was constantly in motion. Always thinking.
"I want you to go the book store and buy me a book. I want you to go. Don't send one of the secretaries."
"Yes, sir. What's the name of the book?"
"Le Petomaine." And he had to spell it for me. "Ever hear of it?" he asked.
"Maybe you've heard of its English title, "The Amazing Pujol." He had to spell that one, too.
"No, sir. What's it about?" By this time, I had figured out the subject was French. I was expecting something big, like international intrigue. So I wrote both titles on my yellow tablet. Just to be safe.
"The book is about a French vaudeville actor," Pickle said. "He was tremendous. Drew bigger crowds that Dame Edith Somebody. He was huge. Ever hear of him?"
"No sir, what did he do?"
"He passed gas." Pickle said.
I could scarcely believe my ears. "He did what?"
"He passed gas." Pickle said. "He did drum rolls, bugle calls, duck imitations and for a finale, he blew out a candle from a foot away!"
By this time, I was laughing so hard that tears were running down my cheeks. "You mean I'm in a United States Congressman's office talking about a guy who farted for a living?"
"No, no," Pickle said, mustering as much indignation as he could, considering the topic at hand. "He was a real artist."
True story. And the book was so utterly charming that I gave it for Christmas presents to the adults on my list. Footnote: rent "Blazing Saddles" and watch for a sight gag stenciled on a government door.