Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Flatulympics








I have no memory of anyone in my family farting, ever. It just wasn't done.

I do realize that it probably happened. Otherwise our whole family would have been bobbing about on the ceiling like balloons in the Macy's parade, and I'm sure I'd remember that. And looking back, I now see that my brother was probably world-class. All I knew was you did not want to go in the bathroom after he'd been in it. He always planted a major fug in there, part aftershave, part cigarettes and part Fumes of Mystery. My eyebrows still haven't grown back all the way.

I also remember it happening to me at least once. I've only got about ten memories from first grade, but tops among them was the time I farted and Chris Ripper smelled it and he got all the kids to stand up in a line so he could sniff their butts. Chris probably had a lot of self-confidence to pull that off, and I don't remember anyone flinging that "he who smelt it, dealt it" line at him. Anyway he passed right by my butt without fingering me, as it were, and that's probably why it's so vivid. You always remember your biggest humiliations and triumphs, and while that one could have gone either way, I put it in the "triumph" column.

(The next memory I have of Chris Ripper was in tenth-grade biology, when we were doing a study of blood types and had to prick our own fingers with a lancet, and he volunteered--with glee, mind you--to stab all the leery ones. I wonder what Chris is up to now. I really do.)

So if I don't remember any farting in my family, it must be because I learned early on that such a thing was never to be remarked upon, or noticed in any way, and I took that to heart so much that my memory slate was wiped clean. As it were.

But although I signed on for much of our family ethic, in this respect at least, the apple fell from the tree and hasn't stopped rolling away. I now live in a household in which flatulence is a competitive sport. No matter what sort of noise I might make, Dave can imitate it. We go back and forth. It's a form of conversation, I maintain, and while not elevated, it serves a lot of the same function of ordinary discourse ("hello, I'm here, I care, I'm listening"). We're not just talking about the weather; we're doing something about it.

I remain fascinated that so many different sounds can be made with just the one instrument. It's a matter of embouchure, just like in woodwinds, I assume; everything from the little squeal to the pop-pop-pop-pop to something worthy of a ship in fog. And we both try to hold back enough ammunition to get in the last word. (Also, we do our own laundry.)

One of the beautiful things about modern technology is you can write an essay about farting and blast it all over the planet (as it were), and somebody out there will care. The blogosphere is a cozy place, and there are all sorts of interest groups and communities in it. There's something for everyone. There are mommy blogs and birding blogs and art blogs and knitting blogs and wingnut blogs, left and right. And sometimes when you're bobbing about on the ceiling of the blogosphere, you can recognize a kindred spirit, someone who holds your core values. A case in point would be Don Joe, the proprietor of the very funny blog Workforced. Ostensibly, it's about life in the modern office; but after reading this post and that post and OMG this one, I realized that Don was essentially putting out the same inspirational message I am.

Pull my finger.

32 comments:

  1. The thing is that woodwinds require fingering to make those different sounds. I truly hope that the competition hasn't gone that far in your household.

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  2. Only my father and the dog were allowed to do that. Now, my favorite SIL and I have many a conversation where we end up laughing until we cry about gas, poop, you name it.

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  3. You didn't dare let 'em rip in my house growing up either, nor burp. In my own house now, we let it all rip. what fun!

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  4. Oh, Murr--what to say, what to say. What is there to say?
    And Michelangelo thanks you for GETTING IT. All those years of people staring at the ceiling. And we thought they were looking at the paintings. Turns out they were all saying--it wasn't me.

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  5. Bravo! In certain company, yes, farting is a sport and I'll admit some of the best laughs of my life involved a fart. They make us healthy and happy.

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  6. Moi.One cheek sneak pro. But NOooobodyyyy could ever beat my dad!

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  7. What is it with dads anyway??? One of my most painfully embarrassing memories involves my dad and his foghorn farts.

    I was in 7th grade and just returned home early in the evening from an hour of babysitting next door to find my principal (a nun), and our pastor at the kitchen table with my dad (who was the president of the PTA). I shyly said hello as I went into the other room to start studying. Father P was talking when all of a sudden my dad just erupted into a long string of EXTRA LOUD farts. I will swear on a stack of Bibles that it was at least five seconds long. Doesn't sound that long? Count it...one banana, two banana, three banana, four banana, five banana. To me it sounded like it went on for a hour!! After he was finished there was complete stunned silence for about another five seconds when Father P just start talking again like nothing ever happened. My dad? Never apologized, didn't say a thing. I was mortified. I snuck up to my bedroom so I wouldn't have to see them when they left. Lord knows what the conversation back to the rectory and nunnery was...

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  8. I don't know, but I imagine the priests were drawing straws over the chance to be the next to hear your dad's confession.

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  9. We didn't fart in my family either -- although, like you I suspect we did, but discretely.

    The most famous farter, however, has to be the French entertainer Joseph Pujol, better known as "Le P├ętomane." He had a very successful career, which included a gig at the famed Moulin Rouge where the Prince of Wales and Sigmund Freud came to see him.

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  10. Midnight farts in a motel with guests are the worst. You all hold it all day, but in the dark of night it will creep out, if you are not ever alert. No one sleeps well as they're afraid of involuntary commentary, so when it does come, everyone knows. The next day, no one heard it but everyone hates each other.

    The early marital breaking point came during an expression loud enough to awaken my spouse who stared at me bleery-eyed, poked my shoulder and said "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore."

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  11. As our co-worker Ron said the other day: "Never trust a fart when you're over 60."

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  12. Back again, and Yoly, whoever you are, that's a great anectoot!

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  13. There are ones we refer to as the "silent killers". I will not explain.

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  14. Elizabeth BrewsterJune 30, 2010 at 9:50 PM

    Honey, it WAS just you. I'm in the same gene pool and I'VE never farted.

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  15. Excellent blog, nice narration..just now i voted for u in bloggerschoice awards: http://bloggerschoiceawards.com/blogs/show/69551

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  16. Just a note to Avicloud.
    The first note of Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue is primarily embouchure, not fingering, albeit the opposite end of the speculum.

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  17. My brother is famous for his farts and can easily fart on command. When the guy I was dating met my brother for the first time, my brother let a big fart loose. My boyfriend looked at me and said "I think your brother and I have just bonded". Great blog Murr!

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  18. It's a universal language, all right.

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  19. Hahaha. That was hilarious. My husband and I have been married two years and I still go to the bathroom to fart. Perhaps I should have more pride in my body and just let it rip (like he does -- often and loudly).

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  20. There is, of course, the ever-popular Fart.com from whence one may select a range of delectable sound files with which to tickle the ears. Also, available there is the iFart app . . . what, don't believe me, just wing on over and see.

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  21. I just have this crazy desire to send this to every one I know!

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  22. I'm not fond of farting, or anything related to farting, and it was banned in my household, too. In my wife's household, farts could not be referred to as farts, but only as "windys," which seems worse than "farts" to me, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I guess.

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  23. Farts schmarts. What's the big deal? ;)

    However, my brother-in-law thinks differently than that as he still hasn't farted in front of my sister in eight years of marriage.

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  24. If he hasn't farted in front of your sister, maybe it's because he thinks it's her turn.

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  25. Elizabeth BrewsterApril 5, 2011 at 3:27 PM

    Honey, it WAS just you. I'm in the same gene pool and I'VE never farted.

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  26. As our co-worker Ron said the other day: "Never trust a fart when you're over 60."

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  27. Only my father and the dog were allowed to do that. Now, my favorite SIL and I have many a conversation where we end up laughing until we cry about gas, poop, you name it.

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