“Stories To Tell Before I Forget” is an ongoing series of short stories about real events from my past. Click here to learn more about the series. And, if you’re interested in reading more, click here to sign up for updates from “The Blarg.”
Stories To Tell Before I Forget:
“My Deadliest Weapon”
I have absolutely zero shame in saying the following statement: I’m a 32-year-old man and I still think farting is funny.
Of course, I can hear my mom’s eyes rolling as she reads this, but it’s absolutely true. I mean, just stop and think about the pure math of gas:
The world’s population is approximately 6.7 billion people. The average person passes gas fourteen times a day, emitting around a liter of gas every 24 hours. That means, on any given day, 93.8 billion farts take place all across the globe, shooting almost 7 billion liters of stink into our atmosphere.
And that’s just humans! That’s not including gaseous cows, elephants, or Mr. Fabulous, who I’m quite sure produces far more than a liter of gas a day.
And yet, with all of this gas being passed, with nearly 100 billion farts going on in the world every single day, the topic remains taboo. Instead, we choose to ignore or lie about them, burying ourselves deep in our seats to ensure that not one whiff of an embarrassing odor leaks out into a room to perhaps–gasp!–silently make its way to someone’s nose!
My Grandpa Hi-Guy (nickname, not his birth name) was a very funny man. When it came to comedy, my grandfather knew just what to say and just how to say it to make an entire room of people crack up. But one item not in his comedic arsenal was flatulence.
I remember passing gas in front of him once and reacting as if it had been the funniest thing I had ever done, or probably ever would do. Hoping to get a laugh out of the old man, I instead found myself getting yelled at. Not because I had passed gas in front of him, but because he didn’t appreciate my shtick.
“It’s too easy,” I remember him telling me. “It’s just a sound gag. Everybody does it, which makes it not funny at all.”
Over the years, I took a lot of what Hi-Guy taught me to heart. I learned a lot from him, including what was funny and what wasn’t. Yet, as much as I learned from him, I can’t stress this enough: When it comes to the comedic value of passing gas, he was wrong.
What makes passing gas funny is the very thing that Hi-Guy said made it unfunny: Everybody does it.
If just one person in the world passed gas, he or she would be labeled a “freak.” If only ten people did it, they’d be a “rare case” and Discovery Health would do an hour-long special on them. But the fact that all of us are roaming the earth and tooting along the way makes it hilarious. At least it does to me.
Maybe it’s because I never outgrew it. Maybe it’s because I have an innate talent/curse when it comes to flatulence. (My friends can attest to that.) Or maybe it’s just because, whether we like to admit it or not, it actually is funny.
One night in the late-eighties, my mother had made my sister Bethany and me what I’m sure was a delicious home-cooked meal. (I’m trying to win points with her here, since I’m sure this particular story isn’t her cup of tea.) The exact details of the meal remain hazy, but its after-effects have, over the years, become a thing of Shady legend.
As usually was the case after dinner, Bethany and I went into the living room to watch TV while our mother cleared the table and did the dishes.
That night, I was in rare form. I’m not exactly sure why it was so atrocious; possibly because of the dinner we had just finished, or maybe because of the remnants of a cafeteria lunch from earlier in the day. Whatever the suspect meal, it had caused some inner turmoil inside my bowels that rumbled through me like thunder through a canyon.
It began innocently enough: Bethany and I were sitting next to each other on the couch when all of a sudden–FIRF!
My sister reacted pretty intensely to that first one. To this day, I firmly believe that if she hadn’t reacted in that way at first, she probably would have saved herself from a world of smelly pain. But the fact that I had gotten a rise out of her made one thing abundantly clear: It was on.
Just as soon as a thick cloud would dissipate, I’d be cocked and ready to fire with brand-new ammunition–FIRF!
Bethany began to move away from me, which only solidified in stone my goal of doing it near her.
She’d move to the love seat; I’d move to the love seat–FIRF! She’d move to the floor; I’d move to the floor–FIRF!
This scenario repeated itself for probably a good ten minutes. Of course, to my tortured younger sister, I’m sure it felt like days.
It went something like this:
1.) Bethany moves to a new area of the living room.
2.) I chase after her.
4.) Bethany screams.
5.) Our mom yells at both of us from the kitchen.
6.) Go back to #1. Repeat.
Finally, our mother had had enough. With Bethany’s chest pinned underneath my behind, our mother stormed into the living room with a wet plate raised in her right hand, dish soap dripping down it and onto the carpet.
I was laughing maniacally. Bethany was sobbing softly. Our mother was dead serious.
Ma Shady: “JUSTIN ROBERT SHADY! KNOCK IT OFF!”
Bethany: (quietly crying)
Justin: “What?!? I’m just farting!”
Ma Shady: “You are not just farting! You’re using them as weapons! Do not use your farts as weapons!”
Up until that moment in my young life, I don’t think I had ever laughed harder. I spent the rest of the evening in my bedroom of course, but A) I kind of deserved it, and B) it was worth it.
That night, my gas had surpassed being merely squeaks of offensive odor. Instead, they became WADs: Weapons of Ass-Destruction.
From that point on, everything was different; I was a changed boy. I felt like Peter Parker after being bitten by a radioactive spider, or Bruce Banner after being exposed to the radiation of a gamma bomb. What would I do with such power? Would I use it for good throughout my life, or evil?
Sadly, I must admit that I’ve been a villain far more than a hero when it comes to flatulence. But I stand by what I’ve always said: It’s still damn funny.
Sorry if I let you down, Hi-Guy.
A story I’ll now never forget,