“God DAMN it!” My father shouted as he struggled to manually crank the driver’s side window down on our wood-paneled station wagon.
He was holding his breath as he drove, cheeks puffed out, shoulders up.
When the smell got to me in the back seat, I did the same. It was like… I don’t even know what it was like, but it was bad. Real bad.
“Who did that?” I asked pulling my turtle neck up over my nose.
“The smeller’s the feller.” My brother giggled.
“It wasn’t ME!” I said.
“Li-sa farted,” he sing-songed over and over.
“Did not, did not, did NOT!” I whined.
This unique family tradition happened every Friday night on the way home from Bob’s Big Boy.
I’m not sure when, but at some point during my childhood I figured out who the “feller” was–my mother. My petite, southern belle, everything-has-a-place-everything-in-its-place, mother. Bless her heart, she had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and it seemed to kick in after any large meal.
No one ever dared to accuse her and she never admitted it. A proper lady doesn’t poot in public or so she said. But I knew. I could tell by the way she used to unbutton her pants on the way home and the fact that she was the only one of us who didn’t roll down her window when it happened.
In college, I developed a newfound sense of independence and penchant for serial dating, as well as a wicked case of IBS. While some girls turned down their suitor’s hints to come in for a nightcap in an effort to avoid getting a bad reputation, I said no because I desperately needed to get home to unbutton my jeans and cut the cheese. Alone.
I suffered in silence for years through long-term boyfriends, live-in lovers, and well into my second marriage.
Then one night, my second husband and I were celebrating our anniversary in Las Vegas. We’d just enjoyed a delicious four course meal and returned to the room. Despite feeling even more post-meal discomfort than usual, I was determined to enjoy some long-awaited anniversary sex. By the end, I was in sheer agony with what felt like a parade of tubas fixing to blow a hole in my stomach. I needed to get out of there, so I volunteered to go to the ice machine. Seeing my bloated form in the over-sized mirror caused something in me to snap.
I stood there (naked), looked directly into my husband’s eyes and said “I have to tell you something.”
I took a deep breath and ripped one of the longest, most pleasurable farts in the history of all my tummy troubles.
We both had a Bob’s Big Boy-sized belly laugh and after that, I never held back again.