January 9, 2009 at 1:51 am (Cussed Dumbers, The Easy Chair)

It’s time to broach a malodorous subject. Be thankful you are reading this from afar.

For the last few days something’s been going on inside. A cramp here, a rumble there, a constant pressure. While not serious (unless you’re downwind) it’s inconvenient and annoying. So, if you dare, sit back, disengage your Breathe-Rite strip, hold your nose and read about Papa’s indelicate condition…

There was a time when people didn’t talk about flatulence, much less do it around others. Maybe it’s because I work in a public situation where people are constantly in search of a bathroom, but I seem to encounter it a lot. This week I got to exact a small amount of revenge.

It started earlier in the week, the aforementioned constant pressure. My mother, in her homespun way, referred to stomach cramps as “a fart caught crosswise.” It wants to come out, but is hooked on a piece of barbwire, can’t navigate the hairpin curve, so it sits there, building, rumbling. Of course, the chance for relief always comes when surrounded by people, so I either have to find an excuse for a quick walk or suppress. My diet hasn’t changed; the only thing I’ve been doing differently is not sleeping much. I pulled some long hours at work, getting three hours sleep over a couple of days. Perhaps not lying down has caused my system to backlog. Correction: Not backlog. Backdraft.

Everyone does it. There are many categories: Noisemakers, Silent Butt-Deadlies, combinations of those two. Gender? Body size? Doesn’t matter. I used to know the sweetest girl, but she could make your eyes water. She was infamous for walking up to others, letting one go and then getting away. (No one ever believes you when you say, “I didn’t do it!”) I found amusement in in, only because she never caused the blame to be focused on me. (Hi Wolfie!)

I have a co-worker, dangerous in the SBD category. He leans to one side, gets a look of concentration, then says, “Oh.” If that’s all, no worries. If it’s followed by a second “OH”? I step away for a moment. It’s the third “OOH!” that is a call to flee. His lips purse like an infinity symbol, a bead of sweat pops out on his forehead. I quickly turn the fan on and leave the registers for a minute or two, letting him reap the credit he so richly deserves. Be right back!

Then there’s Elmo. This freak of nature is never stinky, but can fart on command. He doesn’t even pretend to be coy about it; he lifts his leg and lets rip whenever and wherever the mood strikes. I’ve seen him be hitting on a girl, stop, rip, and go right on schmoozing without missing a beat. (They seem to find it endearing. Go figure.) “And Windy’s got stormy thighs… His aprons are all king-size…”

I *try* to keep these matters private, up to a point. The whole ‘farting around girls’ thing? I used to be deathly afraid of doing so, until I discovered that most girls are more open about it than guys, once they get to know you. My personal rule? If I meet a girl, I don’t fart around her for at least a month or more. (I usually wait as long as possible, then make it the grandest, noisiest event possible. Start off with a bang!) It’s a relationship milestone when you’ve reached that comfort level.

I’d known Mizelle for years before that moment came. We were walking down the street near my house, and I thought I could sneak out a quiet one, but it chirped. She looked sideways at me and asked, “Did you just fart?”

Beet-red and sheepish, “Yes…”

“THANK GAWD!” She leapt into the air, did a half-twist and let go with a squeaker of her own. It was a very special moment in our relationship. In the following years we’ve shared or discussed just about every possible bodily function, and now that she’s had a baby nothing is off-limits. She’s learned a few things about me; don’t follow me into the wine section at Grocery Outlet after eating Indian buffet. I’m not really that impressed with the $2 bottle of wine that was originally $34.99. (She only did it once, and I made her smooth face prune up in like Granny Clampett…) If I wander off for a minute for no good reason, don’t be too quick to follow…

Another girl, a different situation. We had been intimate for a while, and were laying around in bed when I let one go. Didn’t think much about it until she said, “Thank god, I was beginning to wonder if you were human!” I hadn’t realized it, but after months of doing everything that comes naturally I’d finally broken the ice, er, wind. I hadn’t even been trying.

For the record, those were the only two times anyone has said “Thank God” after I’ve farted. I’ve received many more negative reviews. This last go-round especially. Trying to balance comfort and consideration is tricky when working with the public and being subject to their whims. I think I have a minute, and then the situation changes…

On the way to work the other day, I was on the bus, holding back what felt like a big one. I wanted to keep it ‘near the gates’, but didn’t want to subject my co-riders to such indignities, so I persevered. Of course, by the time I reached downtown it had inverted. (Crawled back up inside, to reemerge another time. Grr…) As I got off the train in front of work, things rumbled and I felt my opportunity approaching. As the train pulled away, I looked this way and that. One homeless kid panhandling in front of the store? Meh, fuck him. I let go with about five seconds of pure bliss. I tried to keep it quiet, but it still sounded like a jake-brake from half a mile off. An eye-watering combination of pepper and sulfur arose, and I experienced relief for the first time in what seemed like days. Ohh…yeah…

Then everything went south. Where’s a wind gust when you need one?

A regular customer (we call him the Seven-Course-Meal because he always buys a six-pack plus a single can of beer) came walking up in a hurry. He looked my way but didn’t say anything. Thinking I’d dodged a bullet, I walked slowly. If I stood in one spot, I’d be blamed. If I walked too fast I’d have a contrail following me into the store. (Not the kind of entrance I like to make.) I had my timing down, or so I thought.

Then Raven came flying out of the store, hissing, “No I don’t! Get a job, asshole!”

“Wow.” I caught her eye, and realized she was talking to the panhandler, who was asking for one of her cigarettes.

“Gotta go to work, UNLIKE SOME PEOPLE!” She touched my shoulder as she walked past, and probably through a dark cloud that did nothing to improve her mood. (She didn’t say anything, so I’m hoping she blamed the panhandler!) Sorry hon, I would have held it another three days if I’d known you were passing by at that moment.

Through a series of Fog Bombs (i.e. Grocery Outlet, where you go to a secluded spot, let ‘er rip and then run) and Crop Dustings (walking through a busy area, silently releasing a noxious cloud that has everyone blaming everyone else) mixed in with a couple of good old-fashioned chainsaw-rippers my symptoms have subsided. I am now safe to be around again. Don’t know what started it, I’ve been avoiding the foods that cause such things. (Stouffers’ Lasagna is the Number One catalyst; I avoid it now, but if I’m gunning for you, I will have that for dinner for a couple of days.) Whatever the cause, it’s over now.

I’m still opening a window, just in case…


  1. Jeff said,

    Master PLEASE teach me more!

  2. Jeff said,

    Here is a tactic I used years ago when I worked in downtown Portland (Loyalty Building)
    After a meaty lunch from Nick’s Famous Coney’s, I would feel a bit bloated (know what I mean Vern?) return to my office on the 5th floor, and when I made my exit from the elevator, I would let out a ‘Silent Sally” just as the doors were closing.
    Yes I made my escape, however the melody lingered on.
    I could hear the garage for the next 3 floors!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: