Monday, January 28, 2013

'Tooting' - The Ultimate Relationship Taboo?

'Tooting' - The Ultimate Relationship Taboo?
Let’s face it, for the most part this is a socialization issue: we are trained, taught, inspired to be cute, perky, sexy creatures. Letting It Rip is not part of that.

I don’t fart. I just want to say that right at the beginning. In fact, I don’t even say “fart”. I was raised in SUCH a repressed household that one didn’t even fart. By the way, you can tell our family was repressed because one says “one” a lot. We don’t admit to nuthin’.

According to my mother one doesn’t fart, one fluffs. Those of us who have a vague notion of the adult film industry would die of laughter to be at one of my family’s Sunday dinners to hear my very correct mum say “alright, who’s the fluffer?” It was never me, usually a brother. I was planning to explode when I hit sixty-five.

At some point in any relationship, one of you is going to have to deal with intestinal reality. We already know Everybody Poos (except me). Everyone farts, toots, passes gas, wind, or fluffs. Unless you’re my sister Eva (I have three sisters and five brothers, by the way, you’ll get to meet them all eventually), most women are not comfortable farting (there, I said it) in front of anyone, much less their lover. Eva is an exception and passes gas with more panache than any of the boys in our merry troupe. Perhaps that is a heterosexist statement, that boys are good with gas, girls are not. But let’s face it, for the most part this is a socialization issue: we are trained, taught, inspired to be cute, perky, sexy creatures. Letting It Rip is not part of that.

But we have to do it. Whether we do it consciously or not, everyone passes up to a litre (or four pints) of gas daily. Mostly it’s just a slow leak. Sorry. That’s true. Unless you have a pet, you may eventually have some explaining to do.

Farts are funny. They make us laugh. Most of us enjoy toilet humour to some extent. Freud will tell you humor is a release of the repressed. Farts? Ditto. When we are little, farts are cute (little babies pooting powder, awwww). We are taught young to laugh at them but taught ultimately (although some fail the lesson) to hold them in for more appropriate times and places. As we get older, we may laugh but we are repelled, especially if it’s one of ours.

Roll forward a few years though, and you’re in a relationship and you want to be seen in a sexual light and you will do anything NOT to let it out in front of your lover. For the most part (not judging here), farting is not part of our sexualized selves. Do we want our current (or future) lover to hear us in the bathroom passing gas or worse? Honestly, how many times after Burrito and Beer Night can you cough and flush the toilet while you try to time your farting?

Oh yeah right, like you haven’t done that.

So when do we reach “the fart stage”? Before I continue I should clarify that I am not advocating that we all break wind whenever and wherever necessary. It would get pretty stinky at times and frankly, that is just discourteous. I am merely suggesting that we work a little more on reaching a certain comfort level sooner than our socialization currently allows us.

In our house, what happens in the bathroom, stays in the bathroom. If you lock the door and fart ‘til the plants wither, that’s just your business and no one else’s. The bathroom is a sacred place. Anything which doesn’t make it to the bathroom is politely excused and ignored unless it’s a really good one, then good-natured laughter might follow.

Sounds so boring doesn’t it?

But when my husband and I dated, that was another story! I should add I used to suffer horribly from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). That seems to have mostly remedied itself post-partum. But before that I would never have “sleepovers” in my old apartment because the one bathroom was across the hall from the bedroom. I rarely slept over elsewhere unless I knew there was a “safe” bathroom (in the basement). I was hideously ashamed of the common physical reality that I had to fart and possibly, God forbid, poop. Travel together? You gotta be kidding me. So yes, it actually affected my relationships. But I did have IBS so farting and pooping were often urgent and always sonic. I felt very unsexy and the truth is, the issue was beyond my control. This affected my social life (going to Golf Day was scary for me) and my working life (distance to and availability of the bathroom).

After years of trying to hide the obvious: that I was a living, digesting humanoid, I finally just announced to my then-boyfriend-now-husband one day: “I poop”.

“Me too,” he replied.

“No, I poop a lot. I have IBS,” and went on to explain just how unsexy it could be.

“So does that mean I should laugh if you fart, or not?”

“I don’t fart, I toot.”

“Doesn’t sound like you do either,” he replied. “From what you’re saying I should wear a hazmat suit.”

“It would help.”

“Which is more dangerous? The smell, or the burning of the eyes?” Smart ass.

All this to say, here is when you deal with farting and pooping in your relationships: right away. If he is creeped out by your physiology then he’s not the right guy for you. Digestion is a reality. I don’t advocate your letting it rip in his face during half-time unless that happens to be something which works for both of you.

What I suggest is either:

•    don’t bring it up. We all know we all poop and fart or

•    bring up the fact that you’re shy about making noise (or smell) and you will likely find the guy is going to say “gross” and you’re toast or “I don’t really care”. Your responsibility then is not to second-guess him.

Chances are he’s been holding it in too. Perhaps you can both have a bit of a laugh over it and you tell him what you’re comfortable with (and he may have terms too).

Or perhaps you have a very solemn talk and you agree to build a small hut over a very deep hole in the back yard for both of you to hide your shame.

It’s all so simple really. But we all seem to suffer so much. That first sleepover. The first poop. Because no one has ever pooped before. In fact, that guy you’re with had the bathroom installed just for you because he has never moved his bowels. Like me, he was going to save it til he was 65 and explode into sulphuric glory.

No. Time to be adult and just deal with it. And if you sneak one out and you both laugh, so much the better. We seem to forget that we are fully corporeal beings and this seems especially forgotten when the relationship becomes sexualized. Frankly if he kicks you out of bed for letting one go, he’s not worth it. On the other side of that coin if he’s a farting, slobbering beast, well, that’s just gross and you are probably dating my brother.

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