The wisdom of a smelly fart


There it sat, balanced on the tines of his fork that abruptly halted on the way to his mouth. Glinting, shining in the sun’s rays from the kitchen window, the tiny, round shrimp caught my eye in all its glory. Why the pause? Dragging my eyes away from that magical round of shrimp to glance at my son’s face; pensive, seeming to contemplate the food on his tines as I was.

“Yeah,” he said, “I turn 27 and all of a sudden, my wake-up farts are baritone. Just like that. Baritone…”

What? I’m supposed to offer up a bit of profound, motherly wisdom to explain away this sudden departure from his physical norm. My mind, still on the shrimp, let itself offer up a few shallow, inconsequential reasons that I rejected as far from profound or wise. ‘We’re Polish’ or ‘when you gain weight these things change’ didn’t cut it. He’s only one-quarter Polish and skinny as a rail. I failed. I said nothing.

“…and they smell bad!”

In a flash, the magic was gone. That glinting, glimmering circle of shrimp completed its journey. Chomp. Chomp, chomp. Gulp. Gone. I had to say something.

“Eat anything different lately?”

I felt absolved from the need to impart wisdom and was thankful to kick my mind into some sort of working order enough to spit out that question. Talking about farts, smelly farts, at the dinner table…


Ah, free to return to the memory of that shrimp. I got to thinking: For most of my life, I’ve said I did not like shrimp. I wracked my brain, but could not remember why I didn’t like shrimp. I just never eat it.

“Hey, remind me. Next time you order shrimp, let me try one. I don’t remember why I don’t like shrimp.”


There. That was profound enough.