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A funny thing happened to me last night. I was at the gym finishing up a workout, and when I went to go stretch, I realized that I couldn’t quite do the ol’ “put your right elbow behind your left knee and crack your back” stretch. It’s not because I’m not flexible enough; I had done that stretch the day before. No, there was a larger problem at hand.
You see, I was fully bloated up like a hot air balloon rising over the New Mexico desert. I could bend the way I was trying to, but when I could, I wasn’t able to breathe. The gas in my lower intestine was inflating so much that it was pressing against my lungs.
I stood up and looked around, scanning the area for anyone—anyone at all—within a 50-foot radius. Luck wasn’t on my side in that moment. Three girls on Stairmasters, a dude on a treadmill, a few people on bicycles… it was hopeless. I was holding this one in until I was back in the locker room within the next few minutes.
In the time since that event, I’ve had a few chances to reflect on what went down. Everyone in my near vicinity had headphones in, so if it were a loud one (which it was, as I found out 8 minutes later), they probably wouldn’t have heard. If it smelled bad, so what? We’re in a gym, chances are there’s a guy in there who’s gym clothes naturally smell horrible simply by result of not knowing how to do laundry, so you can easily blame it on that guy.
But should you have to?
Everyone farts. Yes, everyone. Sure, they smell bad and make a funny noise, but why do they have to be embarrassing? If I feel some slight discomfort in my stomach during a meeting at work, why should I be held to the expectation that I have to hold it in until afterward? If I’m on the train and get a rumbly in my tum tum, why is it considered polite to wait until the next stop, forcing me to feel that discomfort for however long? Who decided that passing gas has to be a gross, immature thing that we can’t do in public?
Indulge me for a second: You’re sitting at an airport gate waiting for your flight to board. You got there a little bit early, so you made a stop at the airport McDonald’s for some nuggets and fries before taking to the skies. Suddenly, you get the notification that your flight is delayed. Now you’re sitting in the crowd that’s gathered around and you feel a bit of pressure in the bottom part of your stomach. Feeling comfortable, you push a little bit and let out a fart, and nobody cares.
Not bad, huh? That’s the world I want to live in. I dream of a place where flatulence isn’t ostracized. A wonderland where we can drift through our days letting one loose whenever necessary. Nobody turns a head. Nobody giggles when they hear the sound. Sure, maybe some might cover their mouth and nose to block the smell, but they don’t berate the person who did the deed.
The big thing to note here is the lack of care one way or another towards farts. There has to be a balance. A yin and yang, if you will. If the party offended by the fart stops caring, then so does the crowd that is enthusiastic about them. That means no more farting contests. No more locking up the windows to the car so that you can cut the cheese and force your friends into oxygen deprivation for a while. If the scale tips to one side, the peaceful nonchalance towards our toots will disappear like a fart in the wind, for lack of better analogy.
It’s not going to happen overnight, and I’m not asking for that. What I want is to build a culture of understanding, of people coming together and accepting each other for what’s on the inside that they’re trying to get out. It’s not about celebration, and it’s not about condemnation. It’s about not caring about other people’s farts, whether they’re loud, soft, dry, wet, silent, deadly, or smelly.
It’s 2017. What side of history do you want to be on? .