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by Abigail Van Buren

Bean Salad Gets The Best Of Embarrassed Office Worker

DEAR ABBY: I'm a female working full-time in an office with all men. Yesterday afternoon, I ate a salad that contained several varieties of beans. I was standing outside my boss's office, laughing at a joke one of the salesmen was telling when the beans got the best of me and I passed gas.

I was mortified and wanted to sink through the floor! I patted the salesman on the arm and said, "I guess that's what I think of the joke," and walked back into my office. I didn't know what else to say or do. Today I can't look either of them in the face.

Since this seems to be something that happens to older people (I'm 69), and it's something we often don't have total control over -- please tell me how to "recover." If this should happen again, what on earth does one say or do? -- BEANS, THE MUSICAL FRUIT

DEAR B.T.M.F.: Stop beating yourself up over this. Expelling gas is normal. According to the National Institutes of Health, the average person passes gas about 14 times a day -- although probably not as spectacularly as you did.

If it happens again, don't try to be funny. Just say, "Excuse me," and if the "toot" is a fragrant one, distance yourself. I'm positive that would be appreciated.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics | Work & School