Friday, January 6, 2012

Windy Pops!

Ill blows the wind that profits nobody  
(Shakespeare, Henry VI)

I’m not quite sure of the American attitude to farting. I know they must find some sort of humour in it as it features in their comedy, although I am convinced that anything in American comedy is the antithesis of what most Americans find funny. I haven’t found a single American that finds South Park funny. I haven’t heard any Americans fart!
American children say fart. I found this shocking when I first heard them say this without reprimand from their parents. Maybe that is why they refer to the function matter of factly rather than in a hysterical giggle. When I was growing up we were not allowed to say ‘fart’. It was considered rude. We had to say ‘pump’. It still makes me laugh out loud to this day. One friend had to say ‘excuse me for doing a windy pop’ whenever she let one rip (and boy could she do some belters.). I would cry laughing from a very young age. In fact I have a very juvenile attitude to farting. As an educated professional (and I use both terms very loosely!) I should not know from experience what colour gas farts produce when lit (green and blue if you are wondering). I guess no responsible parent should ever hear their child plead late at night in a hotel room ‘will you please stop watching fart videos on You Tube, I’m trying to get to sleep’. ‘The Pooter’ on You Tube is really very funny. A man is filmed in Walmart loudly blasting them out around unsuspecting Wal-mart folk. Their reactions are caught on camera. Laughter is rarely one of them. Had they been expected to apologise for their ‘windy pops’ as children they would be rolling about in the aisles.
Scientists have tried to develop stink warfare – a smell, when released that is so bad it incapacitates all who smell it. So far they have been unable to find a smell that no one can tolerate. This is because we have a tolerance (even a liking) for our own farty smells. Indole and skatole are used to make perfume. These are the chemicals that cause poo to smell foul! So that is why they call it Eau de toilette! Maybe I should bottle my hubby’s flatulence (which is in abundance) and sell it to the highest bidder. It would change global warfare. He is proud to tell the story at dinner parties of the time he farted and it made me physically sick. This is true but he was helped enormously by the fact that I was hung-over and we were in a car. I get travel sick. His fart was the catalyst though. He has refrained from telling this one at American dinner club. The lack of any display of camaraderie and envy that he usually gets from British men would have been more than he could bear. We had a flatulent cat once whose farts would have given even my hubby a run for his money. He was called Archibald Trumper. Given the English attitude to breaking wind you could just let off farty noises at British troops on the battlefield and everyone would lighten up and stop fighting!
We told the children before we moved to here that it was illegal to fart in public in Texas. Turns out we were not so silly after all. I discovered this week that in Florida it is illegal to "pass gas" after .  I am unclear whether this is in public or anywhere.  How can you suppress a natural bodily function? I concede it is like swearing – there is a time and a place for it but unlike swearing we sometimes have no choice. It just sneaks out! A violent sneeze can be disastrous! Caesar once declared ‘All citizens shall be allowed to pass gas whenever necessary’. Here! Here! You can’t litigate against farting! The law is an ass. In this case, a windy ass! Pretty hard to enforce although I did read about a man in West Virginia who faced a ‘battery’ charge (assault) for farting near a police officer and fanning it towards him. Apparently ‘"The gas was very odorous and created contact of an insulting or provoking nature with Patrolman Parsons," the complaint alleged.  (Would that be ‘parson’s nose’!) The ‘perp’ admitted to farting but said he had an upset tumkin and didn’t aim the fart at the officer. He was also pissed! Beer farts are bad but not deadly. They had to drop the farty charge and do him on the more trivial offence of diving whilst under the influence!
More shocking is the story of a 12 year old boy in Florida who was arrested after he ‘deliberately passed gas to disrupt the class," according to police.  As a teacher I am very familiar with this form of disruption. I would often walk into a very farty cloud in the classroom. It can be very disruptive when all the kids around are gagging from the putrid smell with their eyes watering. I would say ‘somebody needs to go to the toilet’ in a stern voice then giggle to my self, knowing it was me!
We have been trying to work out what hypothesis to test for my daughter’s 4th Grade Science fair. I have only ever seen this portrayed in American movies and have no real idea what it involves but I think I have an idea. She could research into American attitudes to farting.
Some suggested explorations:
  • Which food produces the greatest flatulence, British or American? (Obviously ‘greatest’ would need defining in terms of noise, smell, longevity, and residue)
  • Do American Children find farts funny? (She could do a whole range of controlled experiments – utilising ‘The pooter’, her father and clips from The Young One’s to see if they induced any hilarity)
I guess I would soon find out American attitudes to farting when she submitted her paper!


  1. fruit, we used to have a bengal who farted. it used to make our eyes water. it stopped when she went on antibiotics for cystitis. sadly, she got run over 4 days after v was born. good servants are a bugger to come by

  2. We had a student staying with us who was vegetarian and seemed to live on onions! She was beautiful to look at but would sit on our kitchen floor for hours on the phone creating a hideous green haze around her. At least I didn't feel insecure with such a looker in the house. She lived in a farty inpenetrative bubble!