Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Farting etiquette

A tourist on safari once asked me whether there was a polite way of farting – he was obviously being facetious. It’s no secret that we gorillas are prone to flatulence because of our lush, vegetarian diet, and I could tell from his twitching lip that he was poking fun at our emissions.

“We gorillas are proficient at breaking wind politely,” I said, “but I fear that our methods would not travel well to the lounge-room.”

“Oh, go on!” insisted the man. “I’d love to blow one off in my mother-in-law’s place and get away with it!”

“Since you are so adamant, I will instruct you on the basic principles,” I replied. “The courteous farter makes every effort to prevent the pungent gases from his bowels arriving at the nostrils of his companions. In the open air, this can normally be achieved by pointing one’s posterior in the right direction. But if you are indoors, I can only suggest that you put your head between your legs and sniff up the fumes like a vacuum cleaner.”

“I couldn’t do that!” exclaimed the man. “My farts are too rich and would poison me if I inhaled them deeply!”

I could have said “So what?”, but one makes an effort to be polite to tourists in my part of the world. “If your farts are so constituted, I would advise you to run into the garden when you feel your bowels tighten and discharge the gas on a lit match. As well as burning off the pollutants, the ignition of the vapours would be an enthralling spectacle for any spectators watching indoors.”

“I might just try that after eating a curry!” he retorted, before walking away with a hideous grin on his face.

Although we gorillas take pains to avoid farting in each other’s faces, we feel no shame about breaking wind audibly. It’s only humans who have these curious complexes about not wanting to be caught doing something that everyone does. Smacker Ramrod, the circus vet, told me a story about a boy who farted in his old school. It was a tradition, at that establishment, for boys to take sherry with the masters on their final day at the school. While sipping his beverage, a boy called Cedric Guppy had the misfortune to break wind loudly. As all eyes turned towards him, the poor fellow blushed horribly and raced out of the room without saying a word. His shame was such that he never returned for any old boys’ events and avoided all contact with his former classmates.

Many years later, when all witnesses to the incident had left the school, Cedric could not resist returning to his alma mater, fervently hoping that memories of his indiscretion had faded into oblivion. Turning up on a sports day, he saw no familiar faces apart from one: that of Mulberry, the groundsman, now stooping and grey with age. Noticing that he had not been recognised, Cedric asked Mulberry about the recent history of the school. Assuming that Cedric was an old boy, the groundsman told him about the new library, the geography master who had played rugby for England, the boys who had won Oxbridge scholarships, and a host of other significant events on a far higher plane than ancient flatulence.

Cedric then made tentative enquiries about the boys in his year, and was pleased that Mulberry remembered many things about them without once mentioning the valedictory sherry party. He went on to ask about the masters who had taught him, and was intrigued to learn that his old history teacher had been dismissed for seducing the girl who worked at the tuck shop.

“When did that happen?” asked Cedric in prurient fascination.

“Couldn’t give you the exact date,” replied Mulberry, “but I think it was the year after Cedric Guppy’s fart.”

Ah, the old ones are the best.

Jokes that is. Not farts.

BTW, that man in the pic appears to have two anuses. Obviously life at sea does not agree with him. Or the amorous proclivities of his shipmates have worn him an extra one. Either way, I think he needs some shore leave...
The Germans have no such squeamishness about their emissions. Every time I go on a train journey, my Teutonic gentleman friend Baron Heinrich wishes me a "Gute Fart".
I just have to comment on this one, Bananas. Your schoolboy farting anecdote is clearly a re-working of this tale from 1001 nights. I'm not complaining, because you've adapted it very artfully. Is Tarzan on holiday?
An old mainland Scottish uncle of mine made little impression on me as a child except for a piece of advice I heard him announce to the room in general, one time. I don't know if they were his own words or if he was quoting from something but the advice ran:

"Where'er ye be, let yer wind gang free."
Your contributor Miss Wayne-Bough reminds me.
"Take me to the Hotel Rumplemayer"
"A roll of 35mm film if you please: 36 exposures."

Gems from "Gute Fart in Germany"

And isn't it wonderful to see the Mynah Bird back on the wing?

Surely the trick is to accomplish the emission without anyone the wiser?
I agree with Doccy M, after emission move swiftly away from the spot and let the one nearest take the blame. Not that women ever do fart, we're ladies after all.
I read a story a while ago, can't remember where, about a fart smell testing. Two ladies were procured to fart in the faces of a brace of gentlemen.
One was vegetarian and the other ate meat.
The smell of the meat-eaters farts were pronounced to be horribly farty smelling, quite like rotten eggs, while the vegetarian lady's farts were apparently quite delicious. Like an autumn breeze laced with the aroma of nuts roasting.
Yes, blaming someone else for one of your farts is a well-known human vice. No gorilla would ever do it: we always fart loudly rather than sneaking it out in that crafty human way.

Face, dearest, I'd like to know what that vegetarian lady had been eating. To my knowledge, no gorilla has ever succeeded in delivering a perfumed fart.
I shall attempt to respond to this despite the spray of tea that hit my laptop monitor when I read the name "Cedric Guppy".
Mr. Bananas, you give old P.G. Wodehouse a run for his money, my man.
Good taste and feminine propriety prevents me from expounding on my own personal habits in this area, but I shall only say that in this house, neither my husband, nor I believe in "holding it in". Unfortunately, this makes for a rather restrained and discomfiting time in the presence of company and the general public. For this reason, we are rather inclined to be homebodies and rarely entertain indoors.
Dear Kat,

I am honoured that you should delve into my archives in this way. You and your spouse are right not to hold it in, but most people have sufficient control over their sphincter to back away a little before letting rip.
GB, I fear age and memory have a decided effect on that ability.
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