The use of the n-word is strictly taboo in our society.
And so it should be. It harks back to a time when some of us, because of the colour of our skin, were victimized and brutalized beyond the telling. All the worst innuendos in that word are called up when it is used.
People of African descent seem to use it with impunity, but they have a right to. It's the same as we in this province telling Newfie jokes about each other. As long as it's in-house, fine, but let a mainlander do it and their punishment is to be smothered in a tub full of rotted cod guts. It isn't the smothering they find so bad, it's the stink that drives them insane.
There are other words we don't use anymore in polite society. The E-word for our Inuit brethren up north. The f-word in general. On second thought, so many layers of "polite" society are using that word these days, it hardly bears mention anymore. It's a noun, an adjective, a verb, an adverb, a conjunction and the past pluperfect of scrowd.
It's probably the most useful word in the whole language. Still, you're unlikely to hear it in church or at a meeting of the Vatican Council. I hear the United Church Women (the group), the Anglican Church Women (the group) and the Salvation Army Home League (the league) have banned it from their minute notebooks.
There is another f-word with four letters that came into his own the night CBC's Reg Sherron did a man-on-the-street interview with the question, "Do your farts stink?" He asked it of sailors fresh from the docks in Marseille who let one go every time they heard a ship's whistle, to the dowager with a fake fur on her neck who insisted indignantly that she never "did that."
Just a couple of days ago, I ran across an anti-smoking video from Ontario with a most creative theme. It showed an attractive, sophisticated woman in a group of other attractive, sophisticated younger women enjoying each other's company. This lovely lady sitting on a chair lifts herself slightly on one side and emits a most unsophisticated and simple fart.
Then she says, in an interview-type setting, "I only fart two or three times a day. That doesn't make me a farter as such. I guess you would call me a social farter."
Then we see her doing her best to make an impression on a handsome male member of the younger, sophisticated set, "I don't think they like you doing it in here; I need to step outside for a fart. Would you like to come with me?" or words to that effect.
The whole thing is hilarious, but extremely effective. Equating the often-accepted sophistication of "lighting up" with that of "letting one go" shows just how silly and stupid the smoking ritual is for most of us who see people doing it.
The message is clear: "Saying you're only a social smoker because you smoke only three or four times a day is as ridiculous as saying you're only a social farter."
I don't know what effect it will have, but the video itself is ingenious. It's almost as blunt as stating that smoking will f--k up your health. Perhaps that will be carrying the message to the next level.
Mind you, I'm not among those who think farting is almost as dangerous to your health as smoking. To the contrary, I think most experts and health professionals would maintain that a good fart delivered discreetly and with due concern for the olfactory comfort of those around you, can be most beneficial to your bowel regime and your health generally. Helps relieve sinus headaches and reduces stress.
One thing watching that video did for me was to remind me of those who 1) have a chronic flatulence problem they cannot control, and 2) "let one go" without warning either to themselves or those around them. In either case, once that happens, the problem becomes how best to hide the fact that you are the guilty party.
Let me make several suggestions, some of which you should already know. I'll begin with an oldie but a goodie.
1. "Bad dog!"
We once owned a large black Labrador retriever. I loved that animal, but she got blamed for some of the most atrocious farts ever to be inspired by a poker game, a couple dozen Black Horse, a bowl or two of pea soup and a Jiggs dinner. I know dogs don't mind the stink, but to be blamed for it is most unjust. Actually, she didn't seem to mind that, either.
2. Requires proactive mentality.
When one feels one coming on, you sidle up to the most likely person in the room and wait for the eruption. When it comes, and everyone looks your way, you move quickly away from him, or her, holding your nose and giving him/her a most disgusted look. Best to do this from behind where he/she cannot see you.
3. Taking advantage of your surroundings.
"Will someone please close that window. There's an awful stink coming in here." It helps if there's a piggery nearby.
"Will someone please close the bathroom door!" works almost as well.
4. More desperate moves.
The idea here is to distract everyone. When the unthinkable happens, you shout loudly, "Call the police! He's got a gun."
Alternative: "My God, is that Angelina Jolie who just came in?"
5. Call it a night.
When you're in bed, shaved and showered, and she's in the bathroom getting ready for your anniversary celebration, and suddenly without warning there she blows, fluffing the sheets does not work. Call it a night and roll over and go to sleep. Believe me, she'll know why.
If you do get caught, and there's no way out, grin and say, "That was my best one yet."
You'll bring down the house.
Ed Smith is an author who lives
in Springdale. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.