Monday, 24 September 2012

Ladies Don't Fart:  The Heart of the Problem

Do you remember Kindergarten?  The smell of Play-Doh and crayons, the painting easels with big pots of primary-coloured paints, the upright piano and round floor rug for reading circle.

As I  understood it, you needed to do three things to be a success at St. Joseph’s Catholic School Kindergarten class: recite the “Hail Mary,” the “Our Father,” and be able to tie your shoelaces.  The prayers were a cinch – we said them at home as part of our nightly family sessions – but the shoelace tying was tough.

One day I thought I had it licked, even though my way was different from the teacher’s.  I got in line behind Susan S. to demonstrate my skill to the teacher, and then something terrible happened.  I was a healthy child, and I'd had a bologna and tomato sandwich for lunch.  Michael B. was standing behind me.  He pinched his nostrils shut and wailed, “I heard that, Cathy.  Ew, you stink.”

The teacher, a seven-year kindergarten veteran, leaned forward and admonished me in a prim whisper, “Ladies don’t break wind, Cathy.”

This confused me.  “Is that the same as ‘fart,’ Miss Benton?”

Michael pointed an accusing finger at me.  “Cathy just swore!”

I blushed beet red.  “I did not.”

“Did so!”

“That’s enough, Cathy and Michael.  ‘Fart’ is not a swear word, but it isn’t very nice.  Polite people say ‘break wind.’”

I bowed my head in shame.  To make matters worse, when I had shuffled my way to the front of the line to show Miss Benton my prowess, I got flustered and couldn't tie my shoelaces.

I learned a valuable lesson that day.  Ladies don't fart, unless they can do it soundlessly and with no odour.

When I became an adult lady and got married, I discovered that my husband came from a different camp, the "better out than in" school of thought.  Not that he had been raised that way.  If his mother ever heard him do it, she'd stare at him in disbelief.  "You were never raised that way," she'd say.

Many years of wedded bliss have passed.  Our bodies have aged, and so has our plumbing.  About a year ago, I started farting back in self-defence.  Especially in bed.  Maybe if I can envelope myself in a cloud of poisonous gas, it will shield me from his disgusting man-smell.  This only works if no one turns over, however.

Not that I'm  not a lady, but I'm a hell of a lot more laid back than I used to be.  I still wouldn't dream of "breaking wind" in public, but now I'm beginning to let it rip in public bathroom stalls.  And in private with my husband.

By the time I'm in my eighties, the good Lord willing, practically deaf and with everything I eat disagreeing with me, I may be farting all the time.  Maybe this is the primary reason children put their parents in old folks' homes?

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