And the award for Best Barking Spider Goes To…

I was saving this for my eulogy, but then I realized how often I’d opened this list I keep on my phone over the past year and I thought, man, maybe now is a good time to share. It does seem like a much better use of funeral time than she was awesome, she was great when anyone in attendance should already know those things – and also that she was snarky, sarcastic, and sometimes a bitch. And, as I tell Rich, wouldn’t it be better to stand there and read this list and be bathed in laughter? Rather than pump a well of tears (there will be tears, right?)? Anyway, I started this list a few years ago upon realizing my talent for, well, tooting my own horn. And by tooting, I mean, farting. And by talent, I mean always at the perfect moment. I don’t actually know why I thought this gift was list worthy, but (and I’m not kidding here), I pull it up on my phone on occasions when I’m feeling especially cranky or sad or frustrated or misunderstood. So, basically every other day since March 13th. It always, always, always makes me laugh. Did I mention always? It always makes my husband laugh. It always makes our kids laugh roll their eyes as they realize we are going to retell a minimum of two of these stories and typically closer to five or six. After said eye roll – their eyes dart around, searching for an exit.

Sure, I could have sat here and written about how 2020 was life changing – about how many good things came out of it for me or for my family. Or, I could have sat here and written about what my challenges going into 2021 look like and how I hope to rise above. But. Yeah. I’m just not into it. Then I thought – you know what I could do…is bring the rest of the world into my secret summary of gaseous glory. Should I be embarrassed? Maybe. Mortified? Probably. But what I mostly feel is:

Proud.

The list title is Top Ten Farts – though it is not complete yet, as I always hope for something list worthy whenever I sense (scents?) and opportunity looming. Frankly, I hope I never cap it off. Whatever would I have to look forward to if I actually found my Anal Opus. This catalogue is in no particular order as any witnesses may offer a higher rating to one event than someone else may to another.

But yes, in this case, I do wish to toot my own horn about my own toots. From my horn.

At the least current top eight.

Nine and Ten…TBD.

Or rather, SBD.

Ikea, Potomac Mills, VA, December 2013: Two weeks after I’d moved to the Ville, Rich and I made a road trip to Ikea. I’d discovered that he’d never had the Swedish Meatballs and he’d discovered that I didn’t want to live with hand-me-down furniture, so off we went. We are typically late starters and this day was no different – we arrived starving and made a beeline for the food court. And then we made a beeline to the Swedish Meatballs. One helping? Ha! We both ordered two, pretending our children were somewhere saving a table. Did I mention we were starving? We may have inhaled those meatballs quicker than medically recommended. Delicious. Lunch, check! Let the shopping begin!

If you’ve not been to Ikea (monster), here’s how it works: You are taken through a maze of showrooms where you oooh and aaah at the displays, perfectly laid out, dust free, no clutter, and you make notes of what pieces you then want to buy when you leave the maze and enter the shopping areas. Typically, by the time you get to the shopping, you have somewhere around three thousand four hundred and twelve dollars in ideas that you then have to pare down to a number that will fit in your trunk. You are handed a tape measure and tasked with guestimating what size that trunk is and digging into your memory as to how much junk is currently living in it (did I take those bags to Goodwill?). Right. We arrived at display number ONE. Beautiful set up with a white couch as its centerpiece. We both sat down, happily full, happily on our first real couples furniture trip. Gurgle. Gurgle. Gurgle. Were those butterflies of bliss? Oh. No. Those were meatballs bouncing around in my stomach. Yep. Oooof.

Now, I wasn’t too, too worried – although Rich and I had maybe just passed the mark of farting in front of each other. And by passed, I mean, he entered the relationship at this mark – I was still pretending it wasn’t really something I did. I also knew the old cushion trick – you let your tush exhale into the cushion, then slowly rise – leaving the evidence deep in the foam until you were well out of sight of whomever sat down next. Gurgle, gurgle. I pushed my feet into the ground, leaned forward and slowly started standing/exhaling. Except my timing was off. I, in fact, did not leave anything in the cushion. Instead – and you’ve got to believe me, it happened so quick – nothing escaped until my escape hole was at the exact height of Rich’s nose. At which point, a honking-holy-hell-are-those-geese? sound came out. I glanced over to see his eyes as wide as terrified saucers before continuing to exit the display. He came out shaking, sweating, and possibly questioning his months old invite to bring me to his home. There was silence and shuffling as other customers moved along while trying to land on a culprit – me sitting calmly in the next display wondering if anybody’d noticed.

Everybody noticed.

It was the first time I’d heard Rich say to a room of strangers there is something wrong with her.

It wasn’t the last.

Goodwill, Richmond, VA, October 2014: Let me reiterate, these are in no particular order. But they do mostly include Rich. Because that’s when I started keeping track. Maybe it was my coping mechanism. We were on our first ever mall weekend – a quick get away from real life. We hadn’t quite learned how to do nothing all day, so we were poking around Richmond making stops on a whim. One whim was the string of Goodwill shops on Broad Street – we both liked to hunt for fun finds and our daughter was in need of a trench coat for Halloween. We went into the second or third Goodwill – Rich went one way, I went the other in an already established routine. Somewhere between the entrance and the coat section, I slowed enough to let out a silent scream from my stern end and meant to keep walking. Except that I realized something terrible was following me in the form of a (green? it had to be green) terrible odor. Holy hell. Did I do that? Did I just destroy the t-shirt section? I diverted and parked myself two aisles over, aimlessly moving hangers in the jeans section. At this moment, Rich appeared next to me asking what I was watching.

Oh, I said, Just wait. Look over there in the t-shirts. And we watched as a very innocent bystander started down the afflicted aisle – stopped suddenly and crinkled up her angelic nose to a look of complete horror. What did you do??!!, Rich said, unsure of what he should be feeling. I’m not ashamed to say that we watched at least two more people unknowingly brave the aisle. I’m also not ashamed to say that we then had to move on because the cloud had finally reached us.

West Chester, PA, Winter, year unknown: At some point in your dating-to-marriage life, you have to introduce your intended to your best friend and, possibly, her spouse (who you don’t know that well enough to know you like him). Thus, Rich and I made the trek to their house in West Chester for a long weekend of uncomfortable questions and best friend ratings. These are important friends – the ones who will tell you yay or nay on potential suiters. Don’t get pissed at them if they veto, you ignore it, and then end up with a cad. Which is not what happened here. Rich passed with flying colors.

Whenever I visit A&J in West Chester, we typically go to dinner at The Blarney Stone – a restaurant housed in a building of ever-changing restaurants that finally seemed to land on a menu/atmosphere/audience that has stuck. It’s where I expect my to eat my first cheesesteak within 24 hours of arriving and it’s where the four of us ended up for dinner the first night of our visit. I lived with A for years after we graduated – she was/is very well-versed in my ability to make pungent presents. Rich, maybe not so much at this point. And her husband, definitely not (though that has changed). As we were ordering dinner, I saw Scotch Eggs on the menu – something my mom often made and something I loved. We added it to our appetizer list and split them among the four of us. I’m zero percent sure if anybody actually liked them – but I’m relatively sure I’ll never be able to order them again (mainly because it’s not been at least five years and Rich will still not let me order them again).

Listen, it could have just as easily been the beer, okay?

After eating we all piled into A&J’s Nissan – boys in front, girls in back – and, as we hopped onto Route 3, ghost of Scotch Eggs past flew out of my fanny with a howl and permeated the entirety of their brand new car. I immediately lost my ability to breathe because of both the spirit of the smell and the hysteria that was causing me to laugh so hard. The windows were thrown down into a twenty degree night in an effort to clear the tarnished air. I then watched Rich go through the I don’t know about this girl but her friends are really cool stages of relationship grief.

Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, VA, Date Unknown, first ‘big’ outing with the kids: In my second trip to Busch Gardens, I had a second run in with a Clydesdale. The first was on a school trip back in my early teens when I thought a closeup picture was necessary, ignored the fencing, and shoved most of my body through it to get my Kodak Funsaver lined up. What returned was a photo of two large brown nostrils as my model pulled its head up to snort on me. This second trip, decades later, with a new-to-me family, involved a different kind of Clydesdale incident. I’d never been to an amusement park with children so I really had no idea there were so many ways to squeeze food and rides so close together. We’d hit a snack shack, eat whatever was the worst for us, and then jump on a ride or two. It seemed sensible. We worked out way to the barns where the Clydesdales were kept – where, as it was dark at this point, you couldn’t see any actual horses, but you could smell them. I’d wanted to get a present for our then three-year-old neighbor and spotted the gift shop – plush horses lining the windows.

In we went. It seemed overheated. Gurgle. Was it hot? Why was I sweating? Gurgle. As I picked up various horses, I realized the hot was a signal from my stomach that a missile was loading in the chamber and that OH MAN it was about ready. I also realized that since we were right next door to the barn, I’d totally scored a pass on anyone noticing. Aaaand fire! OH MAN. The barn full of manure did not hide the evidence. Rather than gracefully exiting, I called Rich over to give me his opinion on a gift. We’ve all done that, right? Invited a loved one into your vapor lock? It’s a glorious bonus. He walked into the haze, his entire face cracked, and he scurried to the door while exclaiming, You should be ashamed of yourself!

Off to the register I went, path cleared by the sudden departure of, well, everyone – except an employee clearly terrified to be anywhere near me. She rang me up while trying not to open her mouth while doing her best to follow all the protocols gifted to her by her employer. Pretend everything is fine, I could almost hear her thoughts, put the stuffed horse in the bag (no, not your head), pretend everything is fine, take the customer’s money, do not break character. My family watched this poor woman suffer her way through the transaction. I hope to god she sent the footage onto Disney as her bravery surely earned her a ticket to the big leagues.

Berywn, PA, Christmas 1997(?): I often think about this moment with a smile and a wish that my husband or my own children had been there to witness it. However, the next most important child in my life at the time was there – my nephew. The moment probably solidified our relationship going forward. Yes, he was only three at the time. We’d just had a great pre-Christmas dinner involving lots of chicken and some kind of sauces and were then settled into the living room to open presents. My parents were visiting from North Carolina and my brother’s house was decorated for the holidays. We were watching each other unwrap presents and, as I sat on the floor, gurgle. There was an assortment of candy floating around the room, including Raisinets – not really a fan, as I’ve never figured out why raisins are good. But…I did see an opportunity.

As the bowl of Raisinets passed me, I grabbed a half dozen or so. Gurgle.

The moment came and I let it rip – bringing silence to the room. At which point, I slowly stood up, unveiling a neat little pile of Raisinets under my butt. To which my sweet little innocent nephew exclaimed “Reindeer Poop!!” Yes. On Donner, on Dasher, on Vixen, on Oh Holy Shite. To this day, if you ring up my nephew and ask what my greatest fart ever was – he will immediately reply “Raisinets!” I know this, because I just tried it again last week in honor of its anniversary.

June 9th, 2019: I actually have no idea what or where happened on this date, but it made the top ten. I really should go back in my calendar and see where I even was. It must have been good, but I must not have had time to document it very well.

Sad.

Mechanicsville, VA, Spring 2019, The Gym: Why is it that working out makes some of us sweat profusely and look like we ran through a sprinkler (me), while others come out as fresh as a dang daisy (my husband)? Or some come out of the gym feeling invigorated and ready to take on the world (me) while others feel they cannot get to the couch quick enough (my husband). And why is it that sometimes when I work out, it makes all air pockets in my entire body migrate to my keister. As a woman, I’m already at a workout disadvantage in relation to anything involving jumping. As a bubbly person, I also have to beware of anything involving squeezing my storage end too aggressively.

We work out as a family – and for years took a personal training class at the local gym every Monday night. There were four of us following the cruel instruction of a trainer right smack in the middle of all the other folks working out, coming in for yoga, or leaving from spin class. It’s usually fine – although it did take some time for all of us not to be paranoid about whether anyone was staring at our lack of form. Or slowly improving form. We never ate dinner before said workouts, so there were usually no surprises.

Except this day.

We were in the beginning of our workout, a warm up that involved 15 minutes of core work, when I got the first zing in my seat. Oh boy. A few more spasms came and went – but I’m not a quitter, especially in front of my kids, so I carried on. We line up for a minute long plank and approximately zero seconds in I was like nope, that is not going to hold itself in. Despite a few quick passes at lamaze breathing, the bubbles lined up – though I truly thought I could keep things sealed enough to force whatever left me to be silent. It was not silent. It was more like a machine gun. I remained in my plank, staring at the floor while I noted the quieting of the room – except for my husband’s quick there is something wrong with you…just prior to everyone collapsing out of their planks in what I can only assume was a cross between mortification and complete awe.

I’m 100% sure the head trainer has yet to make eye contact with me.

Glen Allen, VA, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: When I moved to Virginia, I moved straight into a family of Star Wars nerds. A term I use gently…I’m a nerd in some ways as well…I just don’t have the order of the trilogies memorized nor do I know which ones are sequels and which ones are prequels. But I do love Chewbacca and was sad when Han Solo died (he died, right?). I have sat through many-a-galaxy-driven-movie and have even been sent ahead on opening nights to ensure that we got seats. There was no danger of a sell-out, mind you, as we live in the sticks. It has just become the norm to know that if there is another movie coming out, that we will be seeing it, will likely discuss the disappointment of it, and will then be back in a year for another round. Still not a huge fan – although, if I’m being honest with myself, I’m just not a huge fan of movies in general. What I am a huge fan of is movie theatre popcorn. I will latch myself onto just about any movie trip to get myself a big bag of fresh and warm and buttery popcorn. Which means just after the credits, when I reach the bottom of said bag, I am often destined to sit for a few hours wondering what exactly is going on in this DC Universe or that Marvel Universe or this Galactic Universe or whichever universe I have committed myself to in the name of a good snack. But the point being…I almost did not make it past the first ten minutes of The Rise of Skywalker. Not because I wasn’t trying – but because my husband stopped just short of demanding that I leave. The thing is, my love of popcorn has a sometimes noisy side effect. Please note, it typically does not bring a scent with it – it is just, well, noticeable. We tend to attend movies in which there are aliens and explosions, so such outbursts are easy to hide when timed correctly.

This incident was not timed correctly.

I was so sure the Tantine’s retreat from the Imperial Star Destroyer would be a long drone of noise that I didn’t think twice about letting the cat out of my pants bag. Therefore I was shocked to hear the sound of zero ships in movement at the time of the launch and see the, now common, look of horror of Rich’s face. Mind you, I’m sure it matched the look of surprise on my face as reality hit. Oh dear. This was not proper universe protocol. Uh, you need to take that right on out of here was whispered from my left. Great. I said on his good-ear-side. No chance for anymore hidden launches. I re-pledged my allegiance to the resistance and sat in silence. Except for the giggles that kept escaping. That covered up the continued laughing farts.

To be continued…

I mean, yes, this is a living list. I expect more entries though I never really expect to remove any of the above as I think they are all worthy. The irony in the sufferings of Rich is that on our very first sleepover at my townhouse, after eating Mexican food for dinner, I was so incredibly paranoid that I might fart in my sleep and that he would hear me, be mortified, break up with me, and leave – well, I basically stayed up fake sleeping for hours. Our relationship was new enough that I couldn’t really gauge whether or not he was asleep, so I just laid there, eyes closed, squeezing my cheeks with full intention of remaining that way until morning. I could also grab a nap sometime during the day, right? Anything to keep the virtue of my bum in tact.

Way down the relationship road – when I was perhaps too comfortable with my flatulence, I told Rich that story. And as I was telling it (I mean, it was adorable, right? That I tried to shield him?), I saw a smirk begin to grow across his face. What was that look? Why was he smiling?

And, finally, after a few moments of silence, he pulled me close and whispered well, you eventually fell asleep…and I’ve known of your talents ever since…

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