For the Fear of Farting
Why the Hesitation?
I've had an aversion to farting ever since preschool. I was a three-year-old, playing at the base of the monkey bars when the sudden urge to fart came upon me. Thinking it was safe, I let one loose, only to discover the built up pressure was diarrhea. Since that day, I can't hear a fart without cringing or wrinkling my nose. Why, then, would I want to write about farting? Lately, I've been facing my fears in an effort to become a better person. So you might say I'm getting friendly with flatulence as a means of self-improvement.
Meet your new sidekick
Fear of Detection
Fear of detection is a great fart deterrent for most of us. Sure, we could all use a little more attention from time to time, but announcing one's presence with a toot and the stench of rotten eggs is not the ideal way to gain it. (By the way, sulfur is the gas responsible for the rotten egg smell.) Farting can be especially embarrassing around romantic interests, bosses, and complete strangers. The bad news is that gas doesn't discriminate. It doesn't care who you are, and it doesn't care if you sneeze during a job interview or blow out the candles at your own birthday party, it'll take any opportunity it can to escape. The best way to prevent flatulence from becoming socially crippling, is to escape detection. For that reason, I'd like to point out some situations to avoid:
Detection Method #1
Imagine that you've been invited to a nice dinner at the in-laws'. You and seven other people are seated at the dinner table which is piled high with food. You've finished two courses and are about to begin the third when you suddenly notice gassy pressure building up in your bowels. Mrs. Smith, your mother-in-law, insists that you try some of her rhubarb pie. You dare not refuse her, so you shovel a heaping portion onto your plate. Unfortunately, you don't have enough room in your stomach with all the built up air, so you try to let some out silently. Success! You've relieved most of the pressure silently, and it's likely any resulting smell will be masked by that of Aunt Janette’s curry dish.
You're about to dive into the rhubarb pie when you hear a jingling noise under the table, as if someone were crawling between the table legs, shaking a set of keys. Here comes Bingo, the overgrown lap dog. Bingo slinks out from underneath the table, circles around you, and plants his nose in your but.
Sniff, sniff. Bingo wags his tail.
Farts, like a huge list of disgusting things, smell like luxury cuisine to Bingo, and since Bingo is a well-behaved dog, (otherwise, you have noticed him before, wouldn't you?) the in-laws want to know if there's a reason he's taken a sudden interest in your butt. Now you have to explain that, no, you don't have drugs in your back pocket, and, yes, you cut the cheese. Thanks a lot, Bingo.
Detection Method #2
Cold weather is another danger that makes detection all the more likely. Most people are aware that that exhaling on a cold day usually results in a fog-like vapor, but less people consider that the same phenomenon may occur in conjunction with farts. So next time you're in a walk-in freezer, building an igloo, taking a smoke break, or catching a bus in the winter, think twice before you pass gas!
Most of us are aware of the undesirable odor that lingers in the air after someone passes gas, but can flatulence have other undesirable effects? Could flatulence actually be a major contributor to climate change? I once heard that farting cattle had a huge impact on global warming. So I did a little research:
Cecil Adams makes an important distinction on straightdope.com "Each cow emits 200 to 400 quarts of methane gas per day, or 50 million metric tons per year. Just one little problem. Cows don't emit 400 quarts of daily flatulence, as the term is usually understood. According to Professor Johnson, they emit 400 quarts' worth of burps, known in polite circles as eructation."
So we shouldn't scold a cow for farting, only for burping! Cattle only account for 0.5 percent of the world's methane production anyway, and only 0.1 percent of total greenhouse gases. If there's any flatulence worth fearing, it's that of termites. They emit between 2 and 22 Tg of methane per year.
Holding it in
Social pressures prevent many of us from farting in public, but what are the effects of holding in farts? Some people believe that if a person holds in a fart long enough, it will come back up as a burp. I'm glad to report that this is not the case! The longer a fart is held, the more gasses will be reabsorbed into the blood stream. The gasses that remain will just become more nitrogen-rich as the other gasses are reabsorbed.
There's little use in fighting it, farts will escape one way or another. Held-in farts tend to come out once you fall asleep, or in the morning as "morning thunder." Try to prevent the gas from escaping as long as you like, but be aware that stomach aches, pathological distension of the bowel (which leads to constipation) and hemorrhoids may result. So instead of inflicting unnecessary pain on yourself, it would be wise to excuse yourself from the company of others and relieve the gassy pressure in the toilet of a nearby bathroom stall.
Also, if you already have a strong aversion to farting, I would advise against becoming a vegetarian, because they fart more than non-vegetarians. That's not to say that a vegetarian is stinkier, just that more gasses are produced during a vegetarian's digestive process...
Bearer of the Blue Flame
What color are your flatus flames?
Let 'Em Rip!
Why fear the inevitable? Wouldn't it be better to cut the tension when someone "cuts the cheese?" Instead of cringing in reaction to farts, why not have a good laugh? Here are some things to think about:
Light 'em up:
Two gasses in farts make them flammable: methane and hydrogen. If you light a fart on fire, you can detect the presence of methane. About a third of the population produces methane which will result in a blue flame when ignited. Supposedly there's a group called the "Royal Order of the Blue Flame," but I couldn't find it. You can follow a link at the bottom of the page to watch someone's fart ignition video. Look, it's a blue flame!
Rhymes to skirt the blame:
- He/She who smelt it, dealt it.
- The next person who speaks is the person who reeks.
- Whoever's poking fun is the smoking gun.
- He/She who said the rhyme did the crime.