This is a work of fiction.
I repeat, fiction. It’s not based on my life or anyone I know. Personally, I find flatulence abhorrent, embarrassing, and not something you should do or discuss in public. It is with great reluctance that I’m publishing this story. Unfortunately I lost a bet and had to write a story about a man who loves farts. Again, to repeat, that man is not me. I do not love farts. I realize that farts are sometimes necessary but I believe they should be done in a designated fart corner, fart room, or fart area. This can include but is not limited to: the bathroom, a utility closet, a stairwell, a garage, a shed, a patio, a field, a sidewalk that’s infrequently used, or a back alley. Okay, here’s the completely fictional story.
I love farts. That's the first thing you should know about me. I hate to think it's a defining characteristic but it's certainly one of the more memorable things. If you go up to someone or you meet someone for the first time, and you say, Hi, my name is Robert and I love farts, they’re going to remember that. Trust me.
Apparently that was my opening line when I was in first grade. People still stop me in the street and say, Hey remember what you said to me when you first met?
By now since so many people have told me this, I do remember, even though I didn’t remember until that first person reminded me, but I let them have their fun and say, No, what did I say?
And they tell me and we chuckle and I wait a moment and say, Well, I still like farts. In fact, I’m out here walking around because I’m trying to find some farts. I’m actually a fart connoisseur, a fart collector.
At this point, they look at me, they’re wondering if I’m kidding. They’re wondering if it’s all a big joke, and I say, I’m not joking. I’m serious. Will you let me capture your farts? I have a fart collection. I use these mason jars to collect farts. What did you eat this morning? Any beans? Cauliflower? What makes you gassy? If you don’t have any farts now, here’s my number and let me know if you want to schedule an appointment. Some people are particularly farty at certain times of the day, so I’m happy to be there on your schedule. Let me know. Bye!
Many people—for some reason I’ve never quite understood—assume that I am single. On the contrary. I’ve been married for eleven years to my lovely wife, Marta. She is from Delaware and has the most wonderful farts. Moreover, she is the most wonderful human being I’ve ever met.
She was walking on the street and I was behind her fortuitously and she let forth one of the most beautiful sounds I’ve ever heard—almost an orchestra of farts. The melody of her farts was inspiring, truly as wonderful as any music I’ve ever heard. It started off and went high and ended with a flurry of smaller farts that I can only describe as cute, endearing, with a hint of ginger. I knew I had to meet her.
I followed her into a grocery store. She stocked up on beans, broccoli, and cauliflower, all very important in the life of a man who loves farts. It was in the checkout line when I finally had the nerve to speak with her. I complemented her on her hat she was wearing. It was a very nice hat, and we started talking and it turns out she worked at a company my friend worked at. It was very convenient and I was thrilled about this. After I got home I called this friend. You must properly introduce us, I said.
And a couple weeks later, he did. That was many years ago.
We were happy, but something happened recently that shocked me. She stopped farting. Usually every day she’d have a few good ones. Sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the evening or most certainly in bed. She’d let forth a few big ones and I’d take some pleasant deep breaths. But she stopped altogether.
A whole day went by when she didn’t fart. Another day went by. A week went by. A month went by.
Finally I had to ask, Are you feeling okay?
Wonderful, she said. I feel great.
Everything’s okay? You’re not feeling sick, I said.
No, I feel terrific, she said.
Which wasn’t surprising. She was pretty much always in excellent health.
When I prepared the meals—she does quite a lot of cooking but I also pitch in—I made sure to go heavy on the beans. I put some cheese in. I made Mexican-style pizza with beans and queso. Usually a winner. I had a cauliflower salad on the side. I waited. Nothing.
I was upset.
I knew I had to talk to her about this. I had to be direct.
Dear, I said. Honey, sweetie, love of my life. Why have you stopped farting?
Have I? she said.
Yes, you have, I said.
I hadn’t noticed, she said.
You have, I said.
If you say so.
It’s been three weeks, almost a month. I miss your farts.
I don’t know what to say.
You haven’t been holding them in, have you?
No, she said. I haven’t. I always let them out. I know you like them.
I do. I do like them. I love them, in fact.
Well, I’m sure they’ll come back.
A few months went by, but they didn’t come back. I began going out more. I have quite an extensive collection of farts at home. I collect them in mason jars and line them up on my shelves. I make extensive notes, where I found the fart, who produced the fart, the smells, the tone, the pitch, if I hear it, all the different varietals of farts. I go to parks, sometimes. Or a I ride elevators. People love to fart in elevators. It’s just something people enjoy. I also follow people—very casually, of course, in a non-stalker way—in parks and wait until they let one go. I have a very sensitive nose so I can usually tell. I whip out my mason jar to collect. It’s a delicate process, and not always successful.
I found one, a good one. I was in an elevator at a mall with a woman and she let one go. Silent, but a good one. She left and I scooped it up. I followed her. She was shopping for pants. She went to the unisex changing room and I scooped up some pants and went in a changing room beside hers. I waited. She let another go. I scooped that up. I used three mason jars, it was so delightful. As I was reveling in this, someone knocked on the door.
It was security, with a policewoman behind him.
The woman claimed I had followed her and was trying to take photos, they told me.
I tried to explain that I was collecting farts. They took me to their security office, where they had the shoplifters. I offered to let them search my phone, my belongings for any camera. It was all very upsetting. They opened one of the jars.
No! I said. You're letting it escape. Oh it's gone. It's gone. I sniffed wildly.
They opened another one. There was only one left.
No, please, don't do this to me!
They looked at me. After they talked among themselves, they came back to me.
We're going to let you go, but if you ever come back in this store, we'll arrest you, the supervisor said.
Fine, I said.
I wanted to get out. I still had one jar left.
I took it home. I categorized it. I made my notes. And then I did something I hesitate to do. I opened that last one up and smelled it, letting it escape. It was so good I had to. I really had to.
As I was doing this, Marta came in.
You’ve found someone else, she said.
It doesn’t mean anything, I said. It’s just the farts, that’s all.
I saw how you looked. That meant something. You haven’t looked that way with me at all for a long time.
It’s not like that, I said.
Just then she let out a little fart. Just a little one.
I think we’re going to be okay, I said.
Okay, I'm not proud of this story. But I had to fulfill a promise. I don't know if I like the ending. Maybe he should have found other qualities about his wife to love apart from her farts. Maybe she should have said, You know, I'm more than just my farts. I have a whole other side that maybe you aren't appreciating enough. And he would have said, You know, you're right. I'm going to see a therapist about my inordinate love of farts. But stories don't always work out the way we want them to. People are difficult, complicated. And sometimes stories just end, and we're all left with questions. Anyways, I really hope Robert and Marta work things out. Because I like them, I really do. I want them to have a long and happy life together. Farting together, if that's what they want. I think that would be sweet.