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  • September 21st, 2019

THE WINDS OF DISGRACE

By Joel M. Vance

 

Our retired English teacher daughter recently found a whoopie cushion in a junk shop and joyfully brought it home. You kids might want to think about that when your grumpy old high school teacher gives you an unwelcome and unexpected assignment. Teachers are human beings. The same is true of retired writers. The teachers bring home whoopie cushions and the writers write about them—or at least what the sounds they make represent.

It’s rare when I can read something I wrote years before and say to myself, “I wish I’d written that— wait! I did write that.” The following was posted eight years ago. I hope to make my blogs educational as well as entertaining, and I’m reposting this one in the interest of adult education. Hey, I’ll confess— I laughed out loud at my own stuff. Either this means that it was pretty good or that I’m losing it. Whatever, enjoy it and if there are one or two new readers who have arrived at this website since 2011, it’s for you and, okay, for me. Pass it along to your friends who have airy ambitions. You might want to listen to Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” while you’re reading.

 

“The dog did it!”

“Har de har har har!”

Flatulence is a laughing matter, save perhaps if one occurs noisily during a reverent quiet moment during a royal wedding ceremony.  There are low humor books dedicated to the release of rectal gas.  Google “farts” and you will find more methane media than you ever would have dreamed exists.

 

The fart is omnipresent.  We all do it and perhaps it would help the timorous to imagine Henry Kissinger cutting a chainsaw-loud blue darter.  How about the Pope, overdosed on Communion wafers?

 

On the other hand, farting is gross.  Consider the source.  Some things you just don’t talk about.  “Fart,” after all, is a four-letter word.  According to Wikipedia, the know-all web encyclopedia, “The immediate roots are in the Middle English words ferten, feortan or farten; which is akin to the Old High German word ferzan. Cognates are found in old Norse, Slavic and also Greek and Sanskrit.”

 

Not only does the word have a long history; it resounds in literature as well.  Everyone who has been assigned “The Canterbury Tales” in high school English (at least the guys) inevitably zeroes in on “The Miller’s Tale” which involves a particularly gross story of butt-kissing and fart-in-the-face low humor.  So who would say that England’s literary reputation began with Shakespeare?

 

The Bard was not averse to fart jokes either–“A man may break a word with you, sir; and words are but wind; Ay, and break it in your face, so he break it not behind” from “A Comedy of Errors.”  One of the stories from “The Arabian Nights” also concerns farts.

 

Benjamin Franklin, perhaps the most astonishingly complete of our founding fathers, sought a way to perfume gastric effusions so that even if a person couldn’t muffle the sound, he or she could make the incident as pleasant as possible.

 

His lovely essay on butt blossoms is preserved in a book “Fart Proudly” and the fact that his essay on farting still is in print after 200 years is comforting.  See if Harry Potter can last that long (maybe if there is a sequel Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Fart).

 

You can order bumper stickers saying “Bean Powered” or “Methane-Endowed and Proud” And Europeans say Yanks lack sophistication.  What could be more elegant than a wet T-shirt contest where all the dripping mammaries bear a “Club Methane” inscription?

 

Lighting farts is a time-honored form of low humor, equivalent to, but not as well- accepted, as a cream pie in the face.  Only once have I seen it and it was a moving experience.  I moved quickly to escape the blue flame.  A fellow dorm rat in college demonstrated.  He had the apparent intellectual capacity of Neanderthal Man and thought lighting a fart with a match was thigh-slapping funny.  Actually it was. He bent over and jetted his methane effusion into the flame of a match.  A blue streak shot a few inches off his butt and we leaped back, startled.  His fuzzy wool pants smoked for an instant.

 

I remember few things from my formative years.  Death, birth and other traumatic events remain in my mind…but so does that blue flame and I’m not sure whether it is a measure of the drama of fart-lighting or of my intellectual appreciation.

 

If you’re of a mind to find out all there is to know re gaseous gaffes, just Google “farts” and you will be inundated with enough information to make you persona non grata at every party where you trot out your awesome knowledge.  Better to keep it silent but deadly.

However, a few salient points:

  1. Men fart more than women (a dozen times a day on average, compared to a dainty seven for the ladies), possibly because men eat more fart-worthy foods.
  2. Everyone knows that a high-fiber diet is good for you. Also good for your fartability. Some avid consumers of fiber topped 30 FPD (farts per day).
  3. Cauliflower, eggs and meat all contain enough sulphur to stink up your farts, but beans which are notorious for producing butt blasts, have little sulphur and are not as apt to stink up the place.
  4. There are many, many more fart facts and, in fact, the most fascinating web site is Facts on Farts. You’ll find far more than you really wanted to know.

 

Mel Brooks, who is no stranger to low humor, celebrated the fart in a memorable scene from “Blazing Saddles” where a bunch of cowboys eat beans and sit around a campfire trading noisy farts.  There also is an equally memorable scene from a “Seinfeld” episode where Kramer is driving a Central Park carriage after having fed his horse a can of Beef-a-Reeno.  You don’t hear the horse farting, but the effect on Kramer and the couple he’s chauffeuring is hilarious.  George Carlin commented on the various farts, including the SBD (silent but deadly).

 

Carlin commented on every known humor foible, but none so risible as his riff on farting. He mentioned the Fizz, the Fazz, the Fizz-Fazz, the Snorter and the one that goes Whoosh!

 

History celebrates those who transcend their fellows with special accomplishment and none ever has approached the accomplishment of Josef Pujol, a Frenchman who turned his ability to fart not only on demand, but to create music with it (them) into a career.  He apparently had a limited range of four notes: do, mi, sol and do, but could do a visceral version of the French national anthem, the Marseillaise.  Born in 1857, he started his show business career in 1887 and began performing at the famous Parisian café the Moulin Rouge in 1892.

 

He performed other musical gymnastics such as inserting a tube in his anus so he could direct his farts through musical instruments.  At his peak he earned more money than Sarah Bernhardt, the most celebrated actress of the day (but one who, as far as anyone knows, never farted accidentally in public).

 

Pujol lived until 1945 which indicates a possible health benefit in letting it all hang out, so to speak.  As far as is known, he was no relation to Albert Pujols, the baseball star.  Pujol’s real-life career inevitably recalls the quintessential fart joke which concerns the farteur who appears in a booking agent’s office and claims to be able to fart the “Star Spangled Banner.”  He demonstrates and it is a glorious experience (with the windows open).  The booking agent lands a Carnegie Hall concert at which New York’s elite appear.  The hall is crammed.  The audience hushes, the star appears to thunderous applause, drops his pants…and dumps on the stage.  The outraged agent drops the curtain and screams at his client, “What the hell is wrong with you!”

“Well, geez,” says the farteur.  “Can’t a guy clear his throat?”

 

With that gross joke, it’s time to close the sphincter, so to speak, on this look at a universal but seldom examined facet of human behavior.  Next time you feel the urge in a grocery store, sneak around to a deserted aisle, and let it rip….and then turn around to see the Girl/Boy of Your Dreams standing there with an expression of horrified disgust, explain that, hey, the President does it, the Pope does it and so did Elvis.

Don’t count on it making a difference, though.

-30-

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