As a lifelong learner, I have earned several degrees and certificates on the university level, ranging from aerospace to writing. Consequently, I regularly receive college catalogs and course notices in the mail, obviously seeking my business.
I recently noticed, however, how subjects vary according to school and age. At my local university, for instance, the majors targeted at young people not surprisingly run the gamut from accounting to physics, while the Senior Education Department of my high school offers more age-appropriate subjects, such as “Controlling Your Blood Pressure,” “Deleting Diarrhea,” and “Don’t Be Gullible Because of that Gas.”
While walking into one of the classrooms one evening, a stooped man turned his head to the teacher, who inquired, “Which class are you here for, sir?”
Continuing to walk toward the nearest desk without verbally responding to her, he released a fart-filled explosion, whereupon she pointed to the seat. “Sit down! You’re in the right place,” she told him.
Another man, emitting guttural gurgles ordinarily known as “burps,” was redirected. “That class meets down the hall,” she informed him.
I can only imagine what the graduation must sound like, when 25 of them gather in one spot—right outside the bathroom door!
Before the school had been remodeled two years ago, it had served as the chemistry lab’s gas chamber. Apparently, it reverted to its original purpose, but the “No Smoking” sign had remained valid throughout.
However, all of these old students were here for another reason, subconscious though that may have been to them, and it all had to do with how times had changed from their childhood school years.
These gas-promoting classes, always held in rooms with abundant—and open—windows, represent radical departures from the earlier days when students declined certain courses, despite needing them for graduation, because of duration alone: they were simply unable to hold a fart that long.
If they had dared take them, they were always the most visible. While the rest of the class attempted to focus on the professor’s lecture and diligently took notes to prepare themselves for that all-important exam, the fart-holders strained and contorted to keep their gas from escaping, their stomachs emitting an endless series of moans, cramps, protests, gurgles, bubbles, and puffs. Pounding their buttocks deep into their wooden seats, as if they could borough their bottoms into them, they strained not for the purpose of passing that all-important exam, but instead for the purpose of not passing that all-important, stink-to-high-Heaven gas.
Lurching and squirming as they prayed for the bell to ring, they would bore and bang that butt into their potty pot of a perch, turning beat-red in the face as that fart-building air pocket rose through their bodies into their cheeks (the freckled ones looked like they had suddenly broken out with sizzling measles), desperately penetrating any hole—nose, mouth, or ears—for escape, before reversing its path. Now a bowel- and butt-bound bubble, it grew in size at an alarming rate of expansion, coursing back down the body like a heat-seeking missile.
But it always got its way and won, escaping in effervescent eruption, barreling through that last, but helpless, anal orifice like a bullet train plunging through a tunnel. Rumbling, thundering, and releasing a bombarding blast, which rose to the room’s ceiling, the escaped bomb left a brown ooze, which laced the air like reeking rot. So penetrating was it, in fact, that it was still detectable by the eighth period.
A whiff alone told you who had been in the classroom that day. Who needed DNA for identification? To sniff them was to know them.
And you wondered why the school had implemented a strictly no-smoking policy and refused to remove its wall-lined asbestos.
Like the aftershock of an earthquake, the major explosion was always followed by a trail of smaller, but possibly smellier machine gun-fired fart-toots—yes, little, puny, but pungent pockets, which packed enough punch to eat away at the student’s wooden chair like acid.
As the surrounding students, one by one, were wrenched away from their note-scribbling, they hopelessly try to shield and stop the odorous onslaught plunging up their nostrils like swords with every imaginable method: hand, pinched fingers, tissue, handkerchief, scarf, cork, and oversized paper clip amid moans, sighs, coughs, and virtual vomit. Even the teacher passed out once!
Oh, were the lone farters visible! But as wretched as it was, every one of those fellow classmates, without uttering a single word, was eternally grateful that it had not been a diarrhea day.
Nothing could be said; these were polite and discreet times. These were the conservative days—pretend not to see, let alone smell, what could not have more obvious.
Yes, they were unbelievably visible and I would not have wanted to be them for all the antacid medication in the world. But, in retrospect, weren’t we all at some time?
Today, everything has changed. Nothing is ever held back. Today, young farts have become old farts and, with a new-found freedom, it is all they can do to refrain from simultaneously releasing their gaseous guts in class, producing, in the process, a cocky cacophony of sound and stench. Your clothes are so imbedded with it that they could retell the tale through the nose alone. All this facilitates a relieving release, which early school years had repressed, resulting in psychological damage that even Sigmund Freud could not have reversed. But the school had, acknowledging changing social conditions.
Why had they all taken this class? So that each and every one of them, subconscious though it may have been to them, could make one last attempt very late in life here in the school of old farts to fulfill that desirous dream never realized in their youthful days of graduating at the top of their gas—I mean “class!” Every one of them had been that lone farter many decades ago. You know it was you and you know you belong here.
And that, in essence, is what these Senior Education Department courses held at the local high school are really all about—classes of asses passing gases, freely farting and finally relieved of that lifelong shame which changing times no longer create. And, for the first time, they release something other than farts: they release laughter, the same laughter they had feared that all their surrounding classmates had desperately wanted to, but which conservative times had otherwise discouraged. For the first time in their lives, they are actually able to laugh their ass of as they laugh their gas off.
Which leaves me to wonder: how is the burping group doing down the hall…?