First Lecture

Day one of specialized courses on human awkwardness and uncomfortable situations.

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Hello students!

The professor is running a little behind, so he asked me—his lowly, nontraditionally aged teaching assistant, Gary—to go over the syllabus until he arrives!

Everybody power on those Macbooks and open your syllabi! First, the attendance policy. You’ll get a maximum of– who moved this desk? It’s supposed to be way over there! Please excuse me while I drag this massive object across the hardwood floor.

Back where it belongs! That sure made a loud, resonant sound, didn’t it? For a few seconds you probably couldn’t hear anything else… Where were we? Right, the attendance policy. For every absence over three you will drop a full letter grade, unless –

Clumsy me! I’ve knocked over this bulky podium! What a clatter! It surely overwhelmed anything else that simultaneously disturbed the air…. Just give me a second to noisily haul this upright.

Right as rain! As I was saying, you must bring a written excuse, signed by…. What’s this? A CVS receipt fell from my pocket as I wrangled that podium! Some of my personal information is on here! I should rip it in half, lengthwise, then crumple it vigorously before throwing it in the garbage.

Alright, we can end this charade.

Welcome, students, to your first lecture of “Introduction to Hiding a Fart in Public.” It is I, your professor, Dr. Pat Toots. Some of you may know me as the world’s pre-eminent concealer of public farts. I would apologize for deceiving you, but deception is what this course is all about, isn’t it? If you have signed up for this course, I can only assume you are in dire need of these skills. Am I right? Your rear thrusters fire more frequently than average?

I can certainly relate. Thanks to a congenital overproduction of gas, I sound the duck call approximately forty-seven times per hour. Many believe that I, alone, have contributed fifty square miles to the ozone layer. My personal methane has likely warmed the planet by an eighth of a degree. I am windier than the horn section of Chicago, playing on the streets of Chicago, covering J.J. Cale’s “Call Me the Breeze” amidst a hurricane named Gale.

Please excuse that hacking cough. I used to be a smoker.

Doctors shrugged their shoulders at my plight, so I took matters into my own cheeks and developed an elegant fart hiding system, to which I will introduce you this semester. You’ve already seen it in action—you just didn’t know it. Let’s go over the fundamentals and then I’ll explain.

There are THREE fundamental principles to which you must adhere if you wish to clandestinely diffuse your essence in social environments. One, you must Redirect the Attention. Two, you must Infiltrate the Distraction. And three, you must Proceed as if Nothing Has Happened. Together, they form a useful pneumonic:

  • Redirect the Attention
  • Infiltrate the Distraction
  • Proceed as If Nothing Has Happened

Once you have mastered these three principles, you will be free to RIP farts in public with complete impunity.

When you need to let loose in public, you must always “Redirect the Attention” of anyone nearby. Like a borborygmus magician misdirecting his audience with sleight of air, you must give your vaporous victims something else on which to focus. Bonus points, naturally, if your distraction mimics the sound of a human tailpipe. As novices in the art of toot sniping, you should begin with simple, object-focused distractions. For example:

  • Dragging heavy furniture across a hardwood floor.
  • Knocking over a large object, then clumsily setting it back up.
  • Ripping apart an excessively long slip of paper.

Do those examples sound familiar? Try to go back and count each time I’ve hidden one of my toots in this class. I’ll ask for your guesses at the end.

Excuse me! My sneezes really project, don’t they?

Which brings us to the second principle: “Infiltrate the Distraction.” Creating a distraction isn’t enough. You must use it. Your wind must steal into the air at the opportune moment, like a thief sneaking in the back door. Except, in this case, the thief is sneaking out the back door.

Once the job is done, you must “Proceed as If Nothing Has Happened.” Because nothing did happen. They can never prove anything. At most they will suspect, but bound by the ancient law of he who smelt it dealt it, they will be forced to keep their suspicions to themselves, lest they be judged. A well RIPped fart is the perfect crime.

Now, how many times have I disguised a fart since this class period began? You there—how many? Seven times? My, you’ve been paying attention. Let’s count together to see how she arrived at that number.

One, I drug the desk across the floor, and I certainly slid one in there. Two, I knocked over the podium. Three, I noisily set the podium back up. Four, I tore the receipt in half. Five, I crumpled the paper. Six, I coughed violently—I was never a smoker, by the way. And seven, I sneezed.

Which adds up to seven. Seven times, I camouflaged my flatulence right under your noses. Does that sound right? Show of hands, who thinks the answer is seven? Everybody then?

The actual number is 94.

Open your textbooks to page one. We have a lot of work to do.