The Art Of Public Farting

Comedians have built entire careers on it, but if it happens during a date or in front of your boss, your dignity will be decimated in a mushroom cloud of humiliation. It's flatulence, and unless you're a hilarious fat sidekick in Adam Sandler's annual attempted comeback vehicle, you're going to want to avoid doing it in front of others. Here's how.

First, there's nothing wrong with you if you find yourself tooting your own horn with regularity and gusto. The average person farts around 20 times per day. No matter how embarrassed you are of your butt stench situation, rest assured that every single other person around you has faced something similar at some point in their lives, unless they're a cyborg or Meryl Streep.

Assholes the world over love to stress that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure (especially when you are beyond the point of preventing anything, because assholes positively bask in the idea that if they were you, you wouldn't be farty right now), and so here's your obligatory "how to prevent gas in the first place" lesson. Flatulence is caused by two things: a buildup of gas in your digestive tracts and the fact that God finds your discomfort hilarious. If you know you're going to be in close quarters with people who you may not wish to fart or belch upon, avoid foods that cause gas buildup. Some common culprits are those which cause you to swallow gas — like soda, beer, champagne, etc — but others aren't as expected. I know someone who practically needs to sequester herself every time she eats broccoli or cauliflower. As delicious as they are, as the rhyme that I just made up now goes: whipped desserts will lead to many...ferts. And every second grader in the world knows that beans, beans are the musical fruit.

There are certain foods that will help you deflate the Hindenburg of your innards before those around you cry "Oh, the humanity!" Some people swear by a dash of cayenne pepper in a glass of water. Black pepper can help reduce gas as well, so don't pass on the pepper grinder if you're out to dinner and you hope that dessert doesn't involve a bodily orchestra. If you're out for sushi, chow down on ginger. No matter what you're eating, eat slowly and chew thoroughly. Finally, don't chew gum; the act of gum chewing causes you to swallow gas and be compared to a "low rent lady of the night" by my grandmother. Don't lie down after meals; instead, take a walk.

Sometimes even the best laid plans don't work and your body simply chooses to betray you. You're in a surprise meeting after an hour and a half long Mexican fiesta themed lunch. The train has inexplicably stopped between two stations and, since it's rush hour, your face is up against some tall guy's armpit. You're at Forever 21 about 10 seconds away from convincing yourself to buy a mustard-colored minidress. And suddenly your intestines are rumbling.

Those of us lucky to be in a place with a semi-private public restroom when this happens can enjoy the luxury of retreating to one of the stalls and attempting to force the gas to expel itself in the privacy of the commode rather than around your comrades. Squatting, crouching, or kneeling and then leaning forward relieves gas for some. There's even a yoga pose for fart-release, so if you're not completely skeeved out by the idea of getting down on the floor of a restroom that other people's dog poo fleck-covered shoes have trod upon, go ahead and try the Wind Release Pose.

If you must fart and there's no hope for private relief in sight, do so when you're on the move. Don't linger in the cloud or return to the scene of the crime. If you pass gas in your cubicle, immediately get up and leave your cubicle, lest your chattiest coworker decide that now's a great time to have a talk and what is that smell? Is that Ukranian food? If you're on the train, fart and then make your way to the other end of the car. Leave the gas, take the canoli. Farting is kind of like murder or organized crime in that way.

There are certain situations where it may be impossible to get out of a crowd, and the fart must be passed. Say, for example, you're in the crowd at a sold out show, or you're waiting in the security line at O'Hare Airport. If you can't hold it, you're going to let your ass say its piece and deal with the aftermath. You can try to mitigate the smell — for example, if you carry scented lotion in your purse, take it out right after you fart and start nonchalantly applying some to your hands. Nothing to see here. Just a lady passing gas and moisturizing — or you can deny that the smell came from you. Whatever you do, if you plan on seeing any of the people around you again, do not raise your arms triumphantly over your head and proudly proclaim your stewardship of the fetid air now passing into your fellow humans' nasal cavities. This is widely viewed as rude behavior.

Finally, if you end up surprise-farting and it's loud and stinky and embarrassing and impossible to disavow, just laugh it off. Most of the time if you're in a crowd, you're surrounded by people you'll never see again who will only remember that you're that jerk who stunk up the joint for about an hour. Then they'll forget! And even if you're around people you know — say, your coworkers or casual social aquaintances — there's no reason to get upset. Act apologetic, make a self-effacing joke, and move on. The less cool you are about it, the longer people will remember it, even if you did it in front of your crush a la those obviously contrived "embarrassing moments" stories from a Teen magazine.

So, what did we learn today? Everybody toots, but changing your diet a little bit can help you avoid exposing others to the worst that your digestive system has to offer. Even the best laid plans sometimes lead to gaseous results, but a little bit of denial and a lot of good acting can help you Lady MacGyver your way out of humiliation.


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