Hello!!! Shout out to December for arriving on time!
This fine evening I was able to attend FLAF, or Pepperdine’s Fall Literary Arts Festival, put on by my screenwriting program. I know this is all fascinating to you.
Anywho, at this blessed event, I read an essay, and I thought I’d share it with you. Keep in mind that in reading something out loud, grammar and sentence structure seem inconsequential to me. Here is Everybody Farts:
I remember the first time I heard the word, “fart.”
I was seven and at a family picnic thrown by dad’s department. Dad worked in a lab that developed drugs to treat Alzheimer’s and studied their effects on rat brains.
So it was quite the picnic full of nerds.
Despite the opening line of this essay, my parents raised us not to talk about things like flatulence. If the subject had to be broached at all, we were to call it “bottom burping.”
It was quite the shock for my entire family and myself when one child at the picnic let out the loudest, longest toot I had ever heard. It sounded something like this: “FLAAAAAAAAF.”
My entire family stood still. How could this kid do something soooo private in front of everyone? I mean, this was a drawn-out, no shame fart.
My brothers erupted into a fit of giggles. I didn’t because- as any of my peers and teachers can tell you- I never get the giggles.
The fart boy’s father was a pompous Englishman. When he saw how embarrassed my entire family was at the enormity of noise his son’s bowels made, he looked at us, shrugged, and said, “Ehverybahdy fahhhhts.” [This was my way of typing an English accent. Must get better at that. For the record, the phrase always needs to be said in an English accent.]
Everybody farts then became the catch phrase of the Miller family. All of the sudden it was acceptable to say fart as long as you did so in an English accent.
When the Millers took a road trip and one of the boys (or girls) let one rip—it was okay, because “everybody farts.”
And these moments of repeating the phrase, of smelling the stink, made us laugh. They made us comfortable, and even in a family, they made us closer. I think this applies to the world.
I became best friends over a fart. Theirs.
I’ve lost friends over a fart. Mine.
And I suspect that someday I will fall in love over a single, spectacular fart.
There are a lot of places that it’s not okay to fart. Churches, schools, funerals, airplanes- although there’s always one- FLAF. Places where we are expected to sit still, be quiet, and try not to make eye contact with the person next to us. Instead, we are almost encouraged to focus on ourselves, to focus on being quiet and flatulence free.
These moments of silence and clean air are the moments when we fail. We fail to talk to the old woman sitting next to us who can’t wait to tell us about her newest grandchild and his toots or the person who just wants to share a joke at the check-out counter or your new best friend or the weirdo you need to stay away from.
These people are all around us, and they’re exactly why we’re here. 1 Peter 4:10-11 says,
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”
My farts are a gift! A glory to God! So what keeps us from sharing our gifts? Is it fear? Fear of failure or judgment or that the person next to us is a weirdo? Fear of our gifts not being big enough or smelly enough?
The fear applies to words, too, not just toots. That fear stops us from talking. We hold onto our words like we hold onto our farts. We swallow them. And they gurgle painfully inside of us.
Because we weren’t meant to keep them in. We were made to let them out. All of our gifts. Even when it’s a fart.
I want to know you. I want to know your gifts and what your farts smell like. Even when I don’t think I want to. Even when I don’t like you. I want the gurgling inside of you to come out. And I want that for me too.
I believe if we let go of that fear, we might find more friends, we might have more farts and laughs and love, we might find that we’re a bit more a like than we thought. After all, everybody farts.