Rants from the Chair: On Flatulence
I’m sick to death of this election cycle.
I’m sick to death of agonizing crises of the “really old person” variety.
I’m sick to death of worldwide insanity and economic mayhem.
So to lighten things up a little bit…
I want to talk about farts.
After all, farts have a huge presence in the lives of absolutely all human beings. No one is immune.
Farts are wildly hilarious, they feel good, and they are devastatingly embarrassing.
My personal experience with farts, as far back as I can recall, started oh-so-long ago when I was a very young child.
The scene is an average middle-class, 1950’s American living room. There is a father sitting in a huge green leather chair, with his long legs stretched out across a matching green leather ottoman. There is a mother sitting on a red couch she hates but tolerates because it was a surprise gift from the father. And there are two kids seated on the floor; a little girl and her older brother. There are watching Walt Disney on a black-and-white Philco, which means it’s a Sunday night.
Somewhere around halfway through the program, the father says, “Whoop! Here it comes!” Whereupon he ceremoniously lifts his right buttock and blasts the room with an extended and enormous explosion. Whereupon the mother crosses her arms and says, “God Damn It Frank!” Whereupon the two children fall into complete hysterics. Whereupon the father wears a relieved and self-satisfied grin.
Throughout one’s life there are many millions of farts. But I bet you’ll agree there are some that really stand out in memory.
I recall one when I was an early teen living in Japan, where I befriended a classmate, we’ll call her Pam, who was the daughter of our Episcopal priest. I also had a crush on her older brother, whom we will call Rocky, who was a tough and exciting bad-boy, as many sons of priests can be, and who also had taught me how to French kiss. Pam invited me over to spend the night one weekend, where we would be having a big family dinner with Father “Remington,” his wife “Mabel,” and of course Rocky. The only detail I recall of that gathering, was when we were all visiting in the living room, and the Japanese maid appeared to announced dinner was ready, at which point we all stood in momentary silence, and to my sudden shock I passed what I call the loud, bubbly kind of fart, and in the immediate aftermath, everyone was so stunned they all just stared at me with astonished bewilderment.
There was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Only a formal sit-down dinner awaited me, where nobody had a clue what to say.
Fast forward a couple of years and I’m in the Philippines, a high school student in love with a boy named “Bill.” He asked me to see a movie at the on-base theater (I think it was “The Days of Wine and Roses,” which ended up being depressing as hell, by the way), and said his mother wanted to meet me first. We lived within walking distance of each other, so he came to get me, and we went back to his place. His mother stood waiting on the wide, wraparound porch, waving at us across the lawn, which had a walkway to the porch steps, and on this walkway was a random garden hose zigzagging along the path. We had to lift our feet slightly so as not to step on it, and to my horror, with each step I took came a fart, one right after the other, in rapid succession, the last one emitting just as we reach Bill’s mother, who stood on that top porch step and glared down at me in the silence that followed.
How did Bill and I do after that? Who remembers? But like I said, the movie was depressing as hell, which I guess was a good thing because it made us forget about my earlier, multisyllabic display of flatulence.
My mother, ever the “southern lady of the old school,” has always insisted she just “does not pass gas…ever.” But my daughter, who calls my mother “Doer,” busted her one day, which I learned when she called me expressly to tell me, “Doer farted, Mom! I swear to God, I caught her in the act just now!” I could hear my mother yelling in the background, “I DID NOT DO THAT! SHE’S LYING!”
And speaking of my daughter? Oh my God.
She inherited “the gift” from my father, I’m convinced.
She’s blatant about it, and quite frankly, she’s totally unabashed.
When she was a teenager, I can remember a number of times when I would stomp up the stairs to tell her and her friends to pipe down please, and upon opening her bedroom door, someone would announce with an eye-roll, “Farrah farted again, Jill! GAG!” And there Farrah would sit, with that look of relieved self-satisfaction I used to see on my father’s face every day of my life.
So as you can see, I was heavily indoctrinated into this gassy lifestyle from day one…so much so, I recall telling a boyfriend one time, “Dude, we’ve been together for freaking six months now, and I’ve NEVER heard you fart! Not once! And I’ll not believe you really love me until you do!”
Of course his response was to fart every five minutes for the rest of our seven-year relationship.