A well timed fart is one of the few things that most people young and old can agree is pretty damn funny.
I've been overthinking farts recently and surprised myself with how interesting the subject can be.
First off, we've got a few different scenarios we should consider:
The public anonymous fart
You're sitting on a crowded bus and feel a rumbling in your stomach...
Already you can tell that this won't end well, there's been something brewing in there ever since that extra spicy curry last night.
It's a warm day in June so the air feels heavy and covering your skin is a thin layer of sweat.
You start to consider your options.
You could just go for it - no one would know for sure that it was you... though the person directly beside you might have a clue.
But this journey has been bad enough as it is for everyone involved, do you really want to make it worse?
A cramp begins to form in the lower part of your gut.
You're clenching now. There's at least twenty minutes left on the trip...
If only you'd done it 10 minutes ago, the smell would likely be gone, the seat cushion would have absorbed the sound and right now you'd be sitting in peace...
The public fart with friends/partners
This scenario is a little less clear cut.
Depending on how close you are with your friends and the type of friendship you have, a good fart might be hilarious or met with disgust. Maybe both.
In a relationship, on the other hand, I feel like there is a point that every couple eventually gets to where they just go ahead and fart in front of each other.
I think this is a milestone worth celebrating - probably more so than an anniversary. People get together all the time, but fewer make it to the stage where they are comfortable farting in front of each other - why not celebrate that moment?
Either way in this situation the tone and smell of the fart are influencing factors. If it's loud but relatively inoffensive to the nostrils then it's at the funny end of the spectrum.
If, on the other hand, it's silent but foul smelling it will likely come with shame and suspicion...
The professional public fart
You're in some work meeting and that curry still hasn't settled.
It's just like the bus all over again... But different.
Sure you could try the anonymous route, just let it rip and act like nothing happened, but this time everyone in the room knows everyone.
There's a lot more at stake socially.
If you stink up the room it will no doubt lead to conversations later on about how someone farted in a hot and sweaty two hour long meeting and how disgusting it was.
Someone might even call it out there and then in the room. That could definitely happen…
For most quiet disgust will do, but some people feel the need to broadcast everything. There's a good chance it would be a guy called Dave and it's entirely possible that he would just shout 'oh my god, do you get that smell, it's rotten'
You decide to get up and head to the toilet, see if you can shake it out, but the fart is way ahead of you. As soon as you stand up it disappears.
You trying squatting down and giving it a little push but it's no use.
Dejected, you head back to the meeting and sure enough as soon as you retake your seat you feel something bubbling in your rectal region.
The private fart
I saved this one for last because it deserves some appreciation.
Let's pause and think briefly about the feeling of relief and triumph that can accompany a good private fart.
You're sitting on the couch watching TV, or doing whatever you do to relax.
You feel that familiar rumble, but this time it is not accompanied by panic.
You lean slightly to the right and lift your left leg to give it some space before giving it a push.
It rings out, gloriously loud and brings with it some relief.
Any and all unsettled feelings in your stomach disappear.
It doesn't smell particularly bad, but then again your own ones never do, do they?
You relax back into the couch, satisfied and with an enhanced feeling of relaxation.
What does it all mean?
Where do we even begin on this one?
The impact of social pressures on our behaviors?
The innate hilarity in the embarrassment of others or the universality of what we do/don't find funny?
Our emotional responses to being in the presence strangers vs. colleagues vs. friends vs. partners?
The importance of context and how it changes everything?
There's is a lot to unpack when you really dig into a fart, but I want to head in a more biological direction with this one.
A fart can be a useful tool for analyzing your general health. After all, when your body speaks to you, you should listen.
The thing is, a fart is a perfectly natural part of our digestive systems. All animals with digestive tract fart.
What is not so natural is needing to fart all the time, or farts that smell so bad that they could clear a room.
Wet ones and hot ones too - they all point to some sort of digestive issues.
You will probably notice that they get worse if you've been out drinking heavily or eating a lot of junk food. Eating dairy is a trigger for many, as are beans.
Last year I had a few months where my bowls just felt awful. I narrowed it down to the protein shakes I was drinking - once I eliminated them everything went back to normal.
The point is this:
Farts can be hilarious, disgusting, embarrassing, eye watering, ear shattering, moist, dry, loud, squeaky, stealthy, a fetish (yes seriously), panic inducing or even a shit in disguise.
But more importantly that all of that - they can tell you something about how your body is functioning.
Modern scientific studies are increasingly suggesting close links between mental health, physical health and the micro-biome in our gut.
If your micro-biome is struggling it can potentially have serious consequences - so give your farts the attention they deserve.