Farting: It's Only Natural
Is farting crude, rude and socially unacceptable, or just nature?
What are Farts?
Farting, or passing gas, technically known as flatulence, is normal, and all animals are "guilty." All mammals, anyway; I don't know about bugs or fish.
People generally do this about 15-20 or more times a day, depending on diet. Because of cultural influences, it has been relegated to the category of things known as "embarrassing."
The cause is gas produced by various bacteria in the gut working upon the foods we eat. Depending on the food and the type of bacteria, there may or may not be an associated odor with the release of this gas.
That is the answer my mother might have given me, had she not been too busy laughing herself silly the night I came piling out of bed at around eight years of age, demanding to know, "Mother, exactly what is a fart composed of?"
What to Call the Thing?
In addition to its technical medical terminology of flatus, there are innumerable vernacular expressions used to speak of the act, without naming it directly. Below are just a few of the many, many references to this one bodily function.
Euphemisms notwithstanding, in comfortable company, it can be put in the category of funny rather than embarrassing.
let one rip
cut the cheese
Squelch the Thing?
That said, it is usually considered "polite" to exercise the muscles to minimize the sound--especially in public. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. There are situations we've all encountered when it is impossible to exercise two separate muscle groups at the same time; hence we have an assorted variety of sounds from these contrary activities:
- The bending-over ripper
- The walking squeaker
- The squatting gasser
- The sneezing explosion
- The coughing tooter
There was a saying that came from my mother's side of the family, and it applied to the burp, or belch, not the fart. I maintain that the same sentiment applies exactly to flatulence:
"Better to belch and bear the shame
than squelch the belch and bear the pain."
Meaning, of course, that trapped gas is very liable to cause a gut-ache. And no one likes gas cramps.
Also, as we age, control over certain muscles may weaken, and make squelching or controlling the noise nearly impossible.
Successfully silencing the odorous monster,however, can result in the "SBD" variety...(Silent But Deadly)...which can have you racing for the next aisle in the store in a rather large hurry, or hoping that you remain alone in the elevator until you reach your floor.
And to my knowledge, no one has yet invented charcoal-filter underwear.
What to Say?
Common courtesy demands, in public at least, to offer an "Excuse me," if you have offered up such a gem, especially of the unavoidably noisy type. Then again, if you are at a sporting event, it might just be mistaken for a "Bronx Cheer" against the opposing team.
Commenting on someone else's contribution, however, is liable to turn the tables on you, with a comeback such as, "The one who smelt it, dealt it." Or, "The hen that cackles is the one who laid the egg."
Being the sneaky Pete who exudes one of the "SBD" variety, then frowns at, and moves away from another person, thereby silently laying the blame elsewhere, is just plain not nice.
A True Story? I'm Not Sure.
I heard this tale years ago. Take it as you will. I take it as humor.
There was a dinner party, to which a rather socially awkward fellow was invited. The seating was formal; man, woman, man, woman, man woman, etc. around the table.
The unfortunate woman next to him was troubled with gas, and every time a flatus escaped her, the man on her other side, chivalrously took the blame, saying, "Oh, excuse me," or "I beg your pardon."
The rube finally caught on to what was happening, and, missing the entire point, the next time, raised his arm and loudly called out, "This one's on me!"
The Mythbusters Explore the Phenomenon
The Marriage Question
This may be a generational thing. People past a certain age might well consider this event to be deadly embarrassing, even in the presence of one's own spouse.
The next generation might stifle a chagrined giggle.
But watch out for the generations after that! They are liable to devolve into outright contests!
"Oh, yeah? Well take that!" *Toot!*
"Is that the best you can offer?" *TOOT!*
"Well, let's see now--hand me that can of beans over there!" *TOOOOOOOTTTT!! TOOT*
"Maybe we'd better open a window."
Married people who know each other well, and are best friends, have learned to take life as it comes are not going to be overly embarrassed or offended because of a natural bodily function. They are in it, for better or worse, in health and in flatulence, 'till death do they part.
And let us hope that the law is not called in for death by gassing.
The Flatulence Tally
Do you allow a fart to escape in front of your significant other?
© 2013 Liz Elias