I don’t like fart jokes. It’s not that I’m embarrassed or so prudish that I don’t get them, but when you grow up in a Korean household, farts are not funny. Have you ever smelled a fart from someone who spent their whole lives eating fermented spicy vegetables? Now add in that they’re 60? I can’t imagine anything more disgusting than possibly an old Polish man’s fart because they eat as much pickled cabbage plus beer.
Americans are proud of their farts, they yell, “INCOMING!” and you know to clear the room. Asians are taught to be polite so there’s no warning. I only know it’s happening because right before it hits my face, my body reacts to defend itself from the horrendous gag-inducing smell. My mind starts to wonder what tangy odor is coming my way? My mouth dries up, making it impossible to swallow the fart and my eyes tear up in hopes that by crying, the smell can be washed away before I pass out.
I’m probably a bad mom because without realizing it, I’ve taught my daughters to hold in their farts. Tightly. I’m not sure when this happened but I think it’s because I never say the word fart, toot, or spider bark (which I’ve never understood). They probably noticed my behavior as I refuse to do it when I’m around people, especially family (who would judge my slightly cheesey nimbus the harshest and use it to viciously mock me in front of company). I’ve been doing this so long that I think my bloated and bulging belly is kind of cute rather than a sign of repressed behavior. By the end of the day, I usually have doubled in size and can no longer hear anything over the rambunctious gurgling of my gut. If I wasn’t doubled over my desk and holding on for dear life, I’d probably float away.
My husband thinks the bugle-ish sounds of intestinal gas being expelled from someone’s bottom is hilarious. I do not. I went so far as to only enter this marriage only if he vowed to never relieve himself – gases, liquids, or solids – in front of me, ever. We live in a small apartment. It’s inevitable that I hear him on occasion. I try not to get upset, but I still can’t help but think it’s weird that he laughs at his own farts.
When I’m in a public toilet, I’ve learned to flush the handle when I have to let one loose. By one, I mean there’s so much saved in there, that the wind rapidly forcing its way out of my rectum causes a mini hurricane in the toilet, blowing all the water back on my rear. My husband says that it’s the worst when I’m sleeping. It’s like he’s in an orchestra of farts; each note different than the last. If recorded and mixed together properly, my expulsions could give Herb Alpert a run for his money. Yes, my anus is more of a jazz trumpeter than swing.
When it comes to farting, Louis C.K. says, “It’s perfect, it’s a perfect joke. It has all the elements.” I can see that. Imagine you’re sitting in your living room with a bunch of ladies watching the latest rom com starring Ryan Gosling. He and his leading lady are just about to partake in the most romantic lip lock in the world and suddenly “zzzzzzrrrrppptttt” comes hissing out of your best friend’s butt. The room would break out in laughter! If I’m in the room, I’d be upset that from that moment on, the sound of a fart would be the new soundtrack to Ryan Gosling’s kisses.
It’s unfortunate that I am so tightly wound. I wish I could embrace the world of fart jokes lovingly and with the same grace that most women do when they let one slip. I will always deny that I dealt it, even if I was the first to smelt it. I immediately point to the oldest lady in the room because old ladies can fart without repercussion. Maybe one day, I’ll feel liberated to cut the cheese wherever I please. Until then, do not ask me to pull your finger because I won’t.