They’ve come up with an automobile that can run on flatulence. I can commence my plan to rule the world.
Fart is a dirty word that most people don’t want to hear much less say. Some people try to dress it up by calling it a toot or a fluff, one family I knew called it a spunk, but that doesn’t change what it is. I like talking about things other people don’t like to talk about.
There are proper people in this world who poo poo potty talk as being in poor taste (I know. That was a lot of p’s. It was fun) and, yet, when someone’s sphincter fails and sputters unexpectedly everybody laughs. God obviously has a sense of humor. He created the lowly, brown butthole. Do you think what comes out of it was a surprise to him? Why must we feel embarrassed or guilty about something that’s a necessary part of our functioning and is, frankly, hilarious? Why do we have to take ourselves so seriously?
When I was in college, for one spring and summer I worked in the after school program of a daycare. One afternoon, I gathered the kids into a group and asked for their attention and as they fell silent, a willowy, young lady let one squeak out, much to her red-faced chagrin. The children erupted in peals of laughter, rolling on the floor, while this poor girl covered her head, as if in a tornado drill. I tried settling them down, but it was a child, one of their peers who stopped the jeering. He was straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting with the strawberry blonde cowlick and freckles.
“Evweone fawts”, he yelled above the din.
He was right. We all do it every day; super models with their sleek, supple bodies fluff into couture, presidents pollute the White House, the Queen of England toots through afternoon tea, Oprah Winfrey farts around her favorite things, and the Pope, His Holiness, defiles his papal robes. Evweone fawts, indeed.
I answered the door once, when I was a preschooler.
“What you got there, Polly?” the visitor asked. I was jiggling a box of Smarties, the Canadian version of M&M’s.
“A box of Farties,” I replied. I couldn’t say my s’s.
“Oh,” the man said, chuckling softly, “They’re boxing those up now, are they?”
Children are fixated on farts. My little brother and I were prime examples. We used to call them bombers and would titter every time that particular Canadian football team was mentioned. We also used to sit in the back seat of our station wagon trying to effectively mimic with our mouths the sound of those barely audible, soft and breezy farts and then we’d laugh ourselves into hysterics. My brother once farted so much he stunk up his side of the couch and had to vacate it. This was before the advent of Febreze when one couldn’t simply mist away the stench. My brother is a super fun guy and he was fun to fart with.
Most of us our comfortable farting in front of family, after all, they have to love us. When we move from childhood to adolescence, when our interest in the opposite sex heightens, our relationship with farts changes. At least for girls, farting becomes a more private affair. Most boys never seem to lose their fascination with it, even to the point where they’re willing to risk lighting their internal organs on fire. My daughter has had two boyfriends who would cup a fart and fling it in her face, a phenomenon I, thankfully, have not experienced.
Your first fart in front of someone you’re dating is almost as nerve wracking as your first kiss. I recall one night at my now husband’s family home. We dated for six years and were separated every summer, as we lived in cities three hours apart. We had gone out for a delicious, but heavy, meal and the blub blubs in my tum tum were causing considerable discomfort. Every half an hour for hours, I would excuse myself, go to the bathroom and lay on the floor, letting those shameful secrets slip out with as little fanfare as possible. What a rigamarole!
Of course, it couldn’t go on that way. I would have to be able to fart in front of the person I married. Let me tell you, that is one area where I excelled (or I expelled in my area). I was a very gassy girl and had accepted it as a funky fact of my life.
I remember visiting a friend of mine and her brother casually cut one in front of us.
“Ewww,” she exclaimed, “you piggy! That should only be done in the bathroom.”
This was most unwelcome news to me. How is that even possible? If someone were to discover my issue, were to measure my odiferous output, would I be consigned to the cold, hard, echoing vault of a bathroom for life? Could I, at least, have a blanket and pillow in there? Would they set up visiting hours?
It never occurred to me to ask why I farted so much. Six years ago, I underwent some testing, as part of a free health program sponsored by my husband’s workplace, and found out I have an intolerance to dairy. The four to five glasses of milk I was pounding back a day were turning me into a flatulence machine! I wish I could say I cut out the dairy and have been fart free ever since, but how could I give up my beloved cheese? Cheese is magic. It’s food fairy dust. You sprinkle it, melt it, sauce it, smother something with it and in that moment, that heavenly bite, the world is a little brighter, you no longer need a million dollars to be happy, and you don’t care how fat you are. I know there are pills you can take for lactose intolerance, but I’m frugal and prefer to be stinky over being out of pocket.
If farting was just about the goofy noise, we might not mind it as much. There’s the fart that goes pop like a single clap and the fart that putts like an ellipsis does on paper. There are those that explode with a loud blat from too tight cheeks, those that pass in a high, steady wheeze, and those that flap out lazily. There is the always entertaining musical toot that plays an arpeggio and the gurgler which may require a gonch check. I believe butt speak is underappreciated because of the oft accompanying smell. This is why outhouses are so unpleasant. At the mall, walking through a putrid cloud of someone else’s rancid insides is enough to make me rethink shopping forever. At a wedding I attended, some guest left the whisper of an approaching turd on the dance floor and cleared the place out. Sometimes even our own indiscretions are so grim we have to get out of the way. We aren’t like dogs who like to go around sniffing each other’s behinds. Catching a whiff of something offensive is like eating something that has turned. It can make us gag or worse.
I was on a road trip with my friend and her family. We were in the back seat and she wasn’t feeling well. As she let each fetid prisoner go free, there was an instant whoosh of warm, rank air. Initially, her parents quietly rolled down the windows just to, ahem, freshen up the place, but the gaseous gifts began coming so frequently they turned around to seek out the source.
“Is that you doing that?” her gentle, tactful father said to her, peering over his glasses.
For the remainder of the afternoon, there was groaning and guffawing and ninja-like window rolling. To this day, she’s one of the few people in my life, outside of my family, that has heard me fart.
I back it up in public, but in my home, emissions are encouraged. I don’t believe it’s healthy to hold them in. They don’t stop bugging you. They’re like smelly cats who yowl at the door until you let them outside. I’m always kind enough to warn someone in my vicinity that they might not want to get too close. I don’t let them fly at the dinner table or in front of company, but I don’t look down on them either. They’re a necessary fizzle. I’m Polly Mayforth Krause and I’m a frequent farter.