Once when I was in 3rd grade I passed gas in class. Larry Campbell then followed me around the playground “farting” on his arm anytime I got within 10 feet of him. I wasn’t sure how to handle the situation, everyone kept telling me to ignore it, but I decided to go another way, instead I hit him over the head with a lunch tray. He pretty much stopped after that.
Passing gas is a taboo subject among women—we don’t do it and we don’t talk about it. Like most things that we are afraid of, we pretend it doesn’t exist. As mother’s we learn that kids do it and husbands do it, but we spend the next 18 years and 40 years, respectively, training them to stop. If we are successful, we load up on Beano and Gas-X and go back to pretending it doesn’t happen in the real world, even if we are faced with the stinky truth.
When I worked at a University I had one peer who would come into my office for various reasons related to the job, all the while tooting away like the noise and the smell were figments of my imagination. I was often so stunned by her, uh . . . performance that I could not concentrate on what she was saying. But, no matter how uncomfortable I was, I never said a word. I just smiled and went about my day. Well, I did hold my breath until she left, but other than that, it was business as usual.
Men handle bodily functions much differently, for one thing they are not scared of flatulence, well unless you cry while you are doing it, that scares them. I cannot even say ‘passing gas’ out loud. I stick with calling it gastrointestinal distress. Sure, it sounds like I am dying, but even death is more dignified than ‘breaking wind.’
I have found though, that in life, there are just some things you cannot always control and gas is one of them. When my husband wanted to marry me he sat down with my Mom and Dad and asked for their blessing. I was there mostly as moral support, quietly observing, until the unthinkable happened.
“Sir, I would like to ask your blessing to marry your daughter.”
Yes, that is right, I cut the cheese. The whole room was silent, except for the unpleasantness that reverberated off of the naugahyde sofa. I could tell that no one knew how to proceed, so I stuck with the protocol and acted like nothing happened.
“You were saying . . . “
“Sir, I love your daughter and I would like to spend the rest of my life with her.”
It happened again! I was in uncharted territory, but I think everyone understood it was a stressful situation, so they kept on going.
“I promise to take care of her and love her.”
“Thbbbbbbbbttttttt. Bbbbbttt. Bbbbbbbttt.”
A third time! This was unprecedented. My fiancé had finally had enough. He turned and looked at me and very menacingly said, “Are you through?” From that moment on I clenched like I had never clenched before and we made it to the end of the conversation without incident.
I would like to say that I began to feel less insecure about flatulence, but sadly, no. Some things are harder to change than others. Once, when I was feeling particularly carefree, I decided to try something different. I was taking a walk and listening to ‘Funkytown’ on my Ipod. It was a gorgeous sunny morning and I was breathing in the fresh air, getting exercise and enjoying the music, I felt alive . . . and so did my intestines. I knew that my bowels were stirring, but I was all alone, it was 5:30 in the morning and I thought it would be ok to relax and not worry about it. So as I listened to my music, I just kept walking and, well, um . . . you know.
Won’t you take me to Funkytown. Thbbbt. Won’t you take me tooooooo Funkytown. Thbbbbbbt. Won’t you take me to Funkytown. Thbbbbbt. Won’t you take me to Funkytown. Thbbt. Bbbbbtt.
Boy was I feeling good. Along with tooting up a storm I decided to start singing along. I am sure I sounded like a beached walrus doing a ritualistic mating call while suffering from a brain aneurism but I didn’t care. I could see my house and was as high as a kite as I headed for home. It was exhilarating. Until . . . two pillars of the community passed me on either side. They were out for their morning constitutional as well, and were now powerwalking past me. I was going to say good morning, but for once, my rear end and my mouth were silent. Besides, I couldn’t blame them for wanting to get around me as quickly as possible; I wouldn’t want to be downwind either.
From that day forward I have vowed to stick with the plan—passing gas is a myth, it doesn’t exist, and believe me, I don’t even want to talk about it.