As a child, I was always aware of the activities I would eventually grow out of: WWE, wearing a Speedo at the swimming pool, and dry humping on a bean bag chair to name a few. However, there is one thing that has consistently brought me joy and laughter through the years: flatulence. At 29, I am convinced that farts are just as humorous as they were when my father first asked me to pull his finger.
Farts are funny, and have been since the dawn of humankind. I’ve done little research on the subject, but it must be something deep-rooted in our human genome. Prostitution might be our oldest profession, but farts are certainly our oldest joke. Maybe it was a survival mechanism to help cope with the tension of being self-aware, or maybe it has always been an activity to help build strong comradery and teamwork among men. Either way, it is scientifically undeniable that cavemen were belly laughing at farts while painting lousy pictures on the walls.
Remember ladies, smell is the strongest sense tied to memory. Never let him forget you.
This realization came to me in the second grade when a Japanese kid joined our class. For the majority of the school year he spoke little to no English and was understandably quiet and usually kept to himself. Around Thanksgiving of that year, the boys of the classroom took it upon themselves to bring the kid from Japan up to speed on American life by teaching him the intricacies of football. I was the first to score a touchdown that day, which was soon followed by a spike of the ball and a briny fart I was marginally proud of.
"How can someone hate life so much as to not find that funny?" I have never agreed with a rhetorical question more. I expected a couple of laughs from the regular clique that frequented my house after school, but it shocked us all when the normally stoic Japanese kid fell on the ground in a hysterical fit of laughter. Sure, he didn’t speak English, but he obviously spoke the language of comedy. I am not saying farts could end wars, but maybe they could help bridge the cultural gap plaguing our societies.
A recent run-in with a stranger got me thinking more about life and what I’m thankful for. Last summer my brother and attended a mutual friend’s wedding. We celebrated his nuptials by drinking shots of tequila and teaching the bride’s Midwestern father the art of the right pivot on the dance floor. Midway through the reception, we found ourselves in the bathroom at the same time with a troubled, wealthy-looking middle aged man wearing a nice suit and a pink tie. The three of us began using the facilities in unison, and my brother decided to take it upon himself to cheer up this stuffy fellow. Granted, my brother had consumed a healthy amount of tequila, but he has never been a shy person. He made eye contact with this stranger, tilted his head at a 45 degree angle, and then ripped the loudest fart I’ve heard in a decade as he continued to pee.
Both of us, blessed with an evolved sense of humor, began laughing uncontrollably; yet, not the simplest acknowledgment from the stranger. It was as if the two of us weren’t even standing there. The guy justifiably hurried out of the bathroom and after we calmed down, the oddest expression came over my brother’s face. It was not a look of embarrassment or disappointment, but one of utter confusion. With a serious face he asked, "How can someone hate life so much as to not find that funny?" I have never agreed with a rhetorical question more.
What was possibly wrong with this guy? Had the fart come just minutes after he learned his son had passed away after a freak motorboat accident? Had his business partners recently pushed him out of his company? Was he actually in love with the bride’s mother and this day reminded him of what could have been all those years ago? Here is a man whose appearance says he has life figured out, but would be lying if he told someone he was enjoying his existence. And it was the fart that gave it all away.
Of course farts are sophomoric and rude in certain social situations. As my mother would say, "There is a time and a place for everything." But as I approach 30, I hope to remain ever thankful for the gift of the butt horn.