Everybody farts. Whether we admit to it or not, we are built to pass gas when necessary. For some, those moments can come at the most inopportune time.

I grew up in a family that had the freedom to express themselves as they needed, with the understanding it was still a private matter and not to be expressed if others were in close proximity. However, my older brother and sister at times took the opportunity to purposely enter my personal space with their airy messages. The Carters called them frogs, and these invisible amphibians showed up everywhere around the house.

I had a couple of embarrassing moments because of a fart. The first was at my first big slumber party in elementary school. We were playing some 1970’s version of a pass-out game, where we had to spin in circles until dizzy then a friend would lift us up from behind. I suppose it was an effort to feel drunk or like passing out but when I was suddenly lifted in the air by my classmate I ripped one that could be heard throughout the basement we were playing in. The girl who provided the lift fell along with me to the carpeted floor, crippled with laughter. The rest of the crowd laughed as well so I had no choice but to be more tickled than ashamed. Good thing they didn’t see how red my face was.

The second also occurred in elementary school when my sister was getting married. I was a 10-year-old bridesmaid and the entire bridal party was gathered in a small enclosure leading to my church’s sanctuary, waiting for our cue. I could feel the pressure in my gut as I became nervous to walk down the aisle. In my mind, I thought if I just quietly let some air loose I’d feel so much better. So I did, but the aroma that soon dominated that small room prompted a reaction from the other women that made me regret my decision. As cool as I tried to be in my reaction, I was convinced they knew it was the young kid who dealt the stinky blow.

It’s not just bridesmaids who can sniff out the culprit. Recently in Missouri, police had a similar clue help them catch a criminal. Officers with the Liberty Police Department, along with a K-9 unit, had been searching for a man wanted on a warrant charging possession of a controlled substance. It seems that the suspect may have gotten away except for, you guessed it, his loud fart. Sure enough the unmanned man passed gas so loudly that police were easily able to locate his hiding spot and arrest him.

There does seem to be a stigma associated with flatulence that is more severe than with other bodily functions yet it is still a normal process. I’ve known intimate couples who didn’t fart in front of each other, even though they’ve shared everything else physical, and women who work to hold their farts in while using a bathroom stall. Now that I’m approaching the age where a normal cough can trigger one, I say so be it, and while you’re at it pull my finger.

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