Etymology fascinates me. How did the word fart come about, and why. Why are farts funny to the farter and not so funny to the fartee? Why call someone an old fart? Why is it that the louder a fart, the more satisfying it is, and the fartee’s satisfaction is the gratified feeling when he sees the look of horror on the farter’s face that signifies a wet one?
A schoolboy rhyme goes something like this:
Beans, beans, good for your heart
The more you eat, the more you fart
The more you fart, the better you feel
So eat your beans with every meal.
So there’s this fascination with farts, and it’s mostly a guy thing. Merv Hughes, Australian fast bowler and about as uncouth as a man could be, had been hit for consecutive fours by Robin Smith. He ran in, stopped midway down the pitch, turned and farted and said, ‘Hit that one for four, you bastard!’
Then there’s the wonderful story of a lady, who shall remain unnamed (mostly because I don’t know her name and also because it has no bearing on the story) who was waiting for a bus in Rondebosch Main Road. It was far back in the distant past, when busses still had long seats in the front. The lady (we will presume she is a lady, rather than just a woman) was feeling a little queasy and, when the bus arrived, took the only seat she could find, next to a coloured gentleman on the long seat.
She sat in silence for a while and a teensy, weensy little fart sneaked out, one that made up for its lack of volume by the smell, which could well have issued straight from Satan’s bottom. To cover her embarrassment, she turned to the aforesaid gentleman and said, ‘Excuse me, do you have the Cape Times?’
‘Nei merrem,’ he said. ‘But de nex’ tree we pass, I grab a hen’ful of leaves!’
So farts have become a staple of our everyday existence and I believe they should be accepted as such. It’s not as if none of us does it! We all sit in the bath and regale the household with the music issuing from our bottoms. In the old-fashioned metal baths they would resound so loudly the neighbours would comment!
So I think the time has come to officialise these social faux pas, so that they are not only seen to be acceptable, but even necessary. After all, in many cultures around the world it is considered poor manners not to burp after good meal. We should strive to reach that stage with farts and this is where etymology comes in.
The word fart is of Indo-European origin and the people of that region were not ashamed to fart, so why should we be? I have, therefore, decided to name the most common farts. Your input would be appreciated if it could improve the quality of farteology.
Rip-snorter: we all know that feeling. The one that almost hurts as it comes out and makes your trousers vibrate. Very often followed by an impressive smell.
The Whiner: slowly comes out like air being let out of a balloon.
The Spaniard: sounds like castanets, starting slowly then building up to impressive speed.
The Standing Ovations: sounds like one pair of hands clapping then builds up to sustained applause.
Blunderbuss: probably the most satisfying of them all, this one comes out in a thunderclap and leaves the farter with a grin on his face. Not so much the fartees, unless they happen to be men on a fishing trip.
The Assassin: silent, absolutely devastating and potentially deadly.
We could even celebrate our new-found freedom with Farter’s Day and exchange gifts, such as baked beans and Brussels sprouts . After all, why be ashamed of a perfectly normal bodily function that even, I’m sure, the Queen indulges in. Perhaps that’s why she loves Corgis so much; they’re safely below the danger level.
Although knowing dogs, they’d probably revel in the smell.
So here’s my challenge: embrace the fart, nature’s way of getting rid of discomfort and more importantly, letting the deaf know that they are not neglected. After all, if it were not for the smell, they’d never know you’d farted.
So be a proud farter and, being South Africa, with the number of braais we consume, we would have to take a back seat to no-one in this important area. We could be world champions! So let’s join hands and make South Africa proud.
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