Although the seat belt sign had been illuminated, indicating that passengers should remain in their seats with their seat belts securely fastened low and tight around their waists, a man on an airplane passing through an area of turbulence realized that his body was leaving him no choice but to visit the nearest restroom. It must have been something he’d eaten – most likely that egg and cheese sandwich he’d fished from the back of the hot food case at the restaurant across from his departure gate.

“Pardon me,” the man said, patting his belly, to the woman sitting beside him; she frowned and shifted her legs to one side to let him squeeze by.

“Airport food,” he explained, once standing in the aisle, and she frowned again.

With that, the man headed directly for the restroom. But he’d hardly had a chance to close and lock the door behind him when he heard one of the flight attendants delivering a reminder over the intercom that the captain had illuminated the seat belt sign indicating that all passengers should remain in their seats with their seatbelts securely fastened low and tight around their waists. “This is for your own safety, as well as the safety of those around you,” the flight attendant added with a bit of an edge to his voice.

“I’d better make this quick,” said the man, understanding that the reminder had in reality been a recrimination directly specifically toward him. Without further ado, he dropped his pants and assumed the necessary position. But just then, the plane was jostled with such intensity that the man was thrown straight up into the air, coming down so hard he slammed right through the little hole in the bottom of the toilet bowl, subsequently passing through a series of pipes at the far end of which he was ejected from the belly of the plane in the manner of a small pellet of waste. That was how he found himself soaring 35,000 feet above the earth without a parachute, like a character from some diarrhea-themed version of Salman Rushdie’s controversial 1988 bestseller The Satanic Verses. Below him, white clouds spread out like heaps of cotton balls, or endless scoops of vanilla ice cream (but more like cotton balls than ice cream), and a great and majestic expanse of blue sky opened up above him, crisscrossed here and there by the vapor trails left behind by various other passing planes.

“Well, well,” said the man, taking it all in. “I guess you don’t have to be a bird to fly, after all.”

Which may have been true, but as he’d soon discover, it sure as sugar would have helped with the landing.