Friday, January 30, 2009

The sympathy fart

Editor's note: it's 6:33 a.m., and I've already been sitting at my desk for nearly half an hour. Why, you ask? Well that's because I learned an important lesson this morning: don't trade skiing today for the promise of skiing tomorrow.

On Wednesday evening, Dug and I talked about skiing on Thursday morning. My only hesitation was that I knew Mike had been out of town and really wanted to go Friday morning. Dug wasn't super-pumped about getting up early, and I wanted Mike to have someone to go with, so yesterday morning sort of fell apart in favor of a Friday tour. Thursday ended up a bluebird day, and UTRider laid first tracks inbounds. Then, one-by-one the potential participants for a Friday tour fell off until it was just Rob and me. Rob sent me a text at 5:20 telling me his brakes had gone out. I had nothing to do but come to work.

So instead of a writeup about skiing, you're stuck with this little nugget that I thought of some time ago but was saving for a slow news day. Today's post doesn't just border on crude, it jumps in with both feet. I previewed it with my wife, and she strongly disapproved. If you don't like scatological humor or find the corners of your mouth involuntarily turning upward when you hear the words "poo, butt, or fart," you may want to read something else.

You know how when you go to the bathroom, #1, I mean, and you're squeezing to make sure you get it all out and in the process release something from the other end? I'm not talking about debris, just gas. Of course you do. We've all done it.

Not such a big deal at home, but what about when you're in a public restroom and other people are there? If you're attending a sporting event or a movie and there are dozens of you, again, not such a big deal. But what about at work or at dinner, when it's just one, maybe two other guys?

Farting in the presence of others, unless the others are people with whom you have a comfortable farting relationship, is disconcerting. And comfortable farting relationships, or CFRs, are hard to come by. It's sort of like a first kiss, awkward and greeted with trepidation unless you absolutely KNOW that the other person won't mind. I don't know about you, but the people who I KNEW wouldn't mind have been few.

So anyway, back to the public restroom situation. When I'm standing there, addressing my business, and the guy next to me farts, I'm always inclined to fart back. You know, a sympathy fart. Just to let him know that even though we don't know each other (or even if we do) farting while peeing is perfectly natural and OK and no cause for embarrassment.

Problem is, farting is something that happens naturally. Few of us can do it at will. I'm pretty sure my younger brother can, but other than him, I don't know anyone. So is there something else you can do, besides the sympathy fart, to let the other guy know that what he's done is OK? Or is doing something unnecessary because it's understood to be OK in the bathroom?

Of course, were the sympathy fart to get carried away, it could quite literally become a pissing match. First you fart, then he farts back (trying of course to be bigger and louder--without expelling debris one hopes--just to let you know he can). Then you try to drain the liquid with more force, not wanting to be the one with the weak stream. But don't push too hard, 'cuz then you'll finish first and be known as the guy who can't hold it very long and risk a reputation as one not to be invited on road trips. I'm sure you see how this could quickly spiral out of control.

Maybe instead of the sympathy fart someone should write a book about public restroom etiquette, just to let people know that farting mid stream is perfectly natural and is just as proper as putting your napkin in your lap and selecting forks in order from the outside working in.


  1. I really enjoyed the "something else". Was that a random article click, or are you fully versed in 17th century Dutch painters?

  2. If you arrived in the office before 7 I think you have no choice but to leave early, check your kid(s) out of school and enjoy the sunny weather at Alta.

    While I have no problem with people letting it rip in the bathroom I do suffer from a strong juvenile tendancy to laugh. So if I start to lose it after you have just cut loose don't be offended. I even laugh at myself.

  3. Rachel, random article. didn't read it.

    UTRider, ski free after 3 is on the agenda. Jimmy John's at noon, gone by 2. Oh, and I laugh too. And laughed at you talking about laughing. Out loud. Thank goodness it's still just Igor and me, and he's in the far corner and can't hear me.

  4. UtRider - I suffer from the same problem. I act like a seven-year-old whenever anyone farts.

    Now my kids act like lunatics too. My three-year-old daughter was in the doctor's office, farted, and laughed like it was the most hilarious thing ever. The doctor looked at me quizzically and I just said, "Yeah, we think farting is REALLY funny."

  5. I'm good with the bathroom fart. But if there isn't a ventilation fan I try to hold it back if I'm not alone.

  6. i think sympathy fart is just a fancy name for "hey, i FARTED."

  7. i think sympathy fart is just a fancy name for "hey, i FARTED."

  8. OH, Mark! That totally made my day! You know how I love talk of poo and farts...thanks for the laugh! Now all my co-workers want to read it because they heard me laughing... :)

  9. world cup coming soon. i am so exited AC Milan