In Defense of Joe Biden And Old Men
A month ago, I was about to write my column on replacing the income tax with a national sales tax and abolishing the IRS. Then something more important popped up: my wife’s return to the stage after a 16-year hiatus in ACTS’ production of the Broadway musical 42nd Street. Now, once again, “breaking” news forced me to postpone my column on abolishing the IRS.
A recent allegation going around on social media is that at the recent COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, President Biden broke wind while speaking with the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker Bowles. It first appeared in a British tabloid from an anonymous source who claimed: “It was long and loud and impossible to ignore,” and “Camilla hasn’t stopped talking about it.”
Curious, I checked with Snopes to see what they had to say about it. They rated it as “unproven” because the Duchess has offered no public comments on the matter, and they noted the rumor had started amid a series of unfounded claims regarding Biden farting.
Now, I’m not writing this article in defense of Biden, per se, but rather in defense of all old men who may tend to “break wind” at inopportune moments. You see, I was born within a few months of George Bush, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump, and Biden is just four years older than us. I’m not suggesting any of us have this problem; I’m just saying we are all old men.
Some may call me a sexist for defending only old men and omitting old women. I’m sure old women also have flatulence and pass gas, but there is something uniquely male about “farting.” For example, “old fart” is applied exclusively to men (Note to the reader: If you are offended by the word “fart,” you may substitute it with the Latin word “flatulence,” or a more polite phrase such as “broke wind,” “passed gas,” or use the child’s word “pooted.”)
I have no scientific evidence to back me up on this, but it seems to me that men and women behave very differently when it comes to farting. I was at a family get-together recently where three of my grandsons, ages 3 to 8, were busy running around pretending to fart on each other and laughing about it. Meanwhile, my 6-year-old granddaughter was practicing pirouettes and trying to ignore them. This is not genetic. It is learned cultural behavior.
When boys grow up to be men, they readily fart among other men and are quick to claim it when they do, albeit with a feeble disclaimer such as “I had beans for lunch.” But when girls grow up, they usually learn to master the art of the SBD (silent but deadly): somehow they are able to let the obnoxious gas out without making a sound.
I’ve heard stories of several women having lunch in a restaurant when one of them silently passes gas, then quickly stands up, fans her nose, and loudly asks, “did one of you just poot?” Of course, they all deny having done the deed, so they flee the table, usually led by the guilty offender.
Another strange thing I have noticed about flatulence is, well, one’s own farts don’t smell all that bad. It’s other peoples’ farts that make one nauseous. For example, I can be driving alone in my car after eating beans and burritos, and just letting ‘em rip until my car is filled with enough methane gas to melt an iceberg, but the smell doesn’t bother me at all. Why is that?
In 1781, one of our founding fathers and a great man of science, Benjamin Franklin, addressed the issue of foul-smelling farts in response to a call for scientific proposals from the Royal Academy of Brussels. Franklin wrote a satirical essay now popularly known as “Fart Proudly” (Google it if you don’t believe me) in which he noted that an odious gas is produced as we digest our food and releasing this gas into the atmosphere is offensive to others and polite people try to refrain from passing gas while in the company of others. But Franklin claimed retaining this gas in one’s system is not only painful, but could have a deleterious effect on one’s health, possibly even leading to death. Thus, he urged the Royal Academy to fund research into developing a chemical or drug that, when mixed with food, would alter the smell of one’s farts and render them “not only inoffensive, but agreeable as Perfumes.”
But if there were such a little pill that could change the odor of one’s farts as Franklin suggested, the next dilemma would be which scent should one choose. Judging by the little scented things my wife keeps in the bathroom, if she had her way it would be roses and lilac’s. But I’m not sure I want to be sitting around farting roses and lilacs. I think I might prefer that people flee the room rather than having them say to me: “my, what a lovely fart you just made; what scent are you using?”
Getting back to Joe Biden passing gas while talking with the Duchess, what struck me as odd about this story was that there was no mention of an odious smell. The anonymous source told the British tabloid how loud the fart was and how long it went on but said nothing about people running from the room gagging to escape the obnoxious odor, or even that the Duchess was offended by the smell. “Hmmm,” I thought, “unless ‘Sleepy Joe’ was taking some of Ben Frankin’s pills, I would expect the more egregious offense to be the smell of the fart, not how long and loud it was.
Whether this allegation is true or not, I consider it a slur against older men by making us appear to be a bunch of “old farts” who can’t control our wind.
I confess to releasing a bit of excess wind when I get out of bed some mornings, but I explain to my wife that I need the extra propulsion to get me moving, it’s kinda like having a jet pack on my butt. And occasionally I may let one slip and blame it on my dog. But the real problem we old men have is that, unlike women, we never mastered the art of the SBD. Thus, every time someone in the room makes a noise that remotely sounds like a fart, all heads turn to the old man in the corner. Try it with a woopie cushion sometime and see whom they blame.