According to Merriam-Webster, the primary definition of flatulence is, “the quality or state of being flatulent.”
Frankly, that tells me nothing.
It’s like looking up petulance and seeing it defined as “the quality or state of being petul.”
The secondary definition, though, lays it all out there.
“Flatus expelled through the anus.”
Now we’re talking.
There are roughly 7.5 billion people on the planet, and the vast majority of them have anuses. And I’m going to venture a guess that every single one of them has to expel flatus several times a week.
Yes, I realize this topic makes some people uncomfortable.
It’s rarely discussed at the dinner table, unless of course the theme of dinner is gas and the main dish is 15-bean soup.
And I’ve never heard of an instance where it came up during a job interview, but I’d like to have been there if it did.
“So, Mr. Smith, I see you have a B.A. degree and several years’ experience in the field. One quick question though … where do you stand on flatulence?”
“You mean, expelling flatus through my anus?”
“Personally, I’m all for it.”
“Great! I think you’ll fit in just fine here at Buttblaster Industries.”
Clearly, flatulence never finds its way into polite conversation. But really, it’s not the fault of flatus.
It’s the fault of you and me.
For starters, we’ve given it unappealing nicknames, like “farts” and “backdoor trumpets” and “butt cheek squeaks.” All are lowbrow – maybe even offensive.
They sound bad when you say them and even worse when you hear them.
Therefore, I think the first step in softening the reputation of flatulence is to give it a brighter, happier name.
My choice is “Chip.”
Once people are no longer afraid to talk about it (“Chip” is offensive to no one), then maybe we can take the next step and remove the shame.
I never admitted this to my co-workers over the years, but oftentimes I would get up from my chair and tell them I was going to step outside and “stretch my legs.”
I did this a lot during the course of the day, but I really wasn’t going outside to stretch my legs at all.
I just had to Chip, and Chip sometimes makes quite a racket.
The sounds vary, of course, from a creak to a plaintive wail to the unsettling noise sometimes associated with knocking over a filing cabinet.
For whatever reason, my Chips often have a sharp report.
One time, while standing outside the building at my last job, I unleashed a Chip that sounded very much like a firecracker. It was so loud birds nesting in nearby trees were startled and flew off in a panic. There might have even been a police report filed, although I can’t say for sure.
But if we weren’t ashamed of the noise, we wouldn’t have to lie to our friends.
It would’ve been nice if, while at work, I could’ve just jumped up, said, “I have to Chip,” and ran outside. And if anyone heard it, they could just shrug it off.
Because like I said, we all Chip.
Yet the biggest problem with Chip is that he often comes with some unwanted odor.
There are some that are mild and only slightly disagreeable, but there are others that carry the scent of week-old road kill dipped in balsamic vinaigrette. (And I’m not saying how I know this, but anyone who has consumed eggs and drank beer during the course of a day and feels a need to Chip must be quarantined, and his or her city of residence should be evacuated).
That being the case, even when we make Chip more accepted by society we have to recognize the fact that he is best released in wide-open spaces.
Because even if there comes a day when people have no qualms talking about expelling flatus through their anuses, there are limitations.
After all, if somebody Chips in an elevator, they need to have their asses kicked.