And it’s come to this. I shouldn’t be surprised because it always does.
Yesterday I read Wendy’s tale of flatulence on her blog Herding Cats In Hammond River. (To clarify, it was her blog but not her flatulence.) In the comment section was a call to action. Someone needs to write about the etiquette of flatulence.
As a parent of three and someone who has taught manners to rooms filled with 8-10 year old children, I have serious boots-on-the-ground time when it comes to bodily functions. So, I am here to answer the call.
If you’re a parent, (you don’t really need to be a parent, if there’s a male of any age in your household this will work) ask your child (or adult male) for the one question they would most want to ask an etiquette teacher. Trust me; there will be three results from this little, social experiment:
- You’ll need to define etiquette.
- They’ll give you a question that has something to do with burping, farting, nose-picking, or body odor.
- You’ll think that your kids are gross but also that it’s a pretty good question.
It’s a good question because bodily functions are something no one is spared from; they’re what 8-year-old boys have in common with the Queen of England. The list of gross things to cover is long, especially when you put the imagination of your children to work at compiling such a list. However, I’m going to cover the top two: flatulence and belching. (Yes, David, those are the fancy words for farting and burping.)
How to handle flatulence:
- Recent studies show that for 98% of farts you have at least a 30 second warning. (There have been no recent studies that I know of; I made that up, but I believe it to be true and statistically sound!) So, use your 30 second window to LEAVE THE ROOM. That is the Golden Rule of Flatulence Etiquette – leave.
- Okay, you’ve just had one of those 2% rare episodes of flatulence and passed gas in the presence of someone other than your dog. You need to say “Excuse me.” You don’t say EXCUUUUSE MEEEEE!!! You excuse yourself quietly and then either leave the room until your situation is done or proceed with whatever you were doing.
- Don’t apologize. Apologizing for an unexpected fart can be as awkward as the act itself. How is the offended person supposed to respond to a fart apology?
- If you’re the victim of someone else’s public flatulence, ignore it. Unless it happens over and over, in which case you can ask, “Are you okay?” If this subtle, considerate response doesn’t get them to leave the room, you have my permission to ask if they’d mind stepping out of the room until they’re feeling better. A person can only take so much.
How to handle burps (or the mechanics of a polite burp):
- (This one is for the kids.) Learn that there is a time and a place for everything – even burps. It may be funny with friends on the playground but will be much less funny at your parent’s dinner party. Leave the table to burp if you can.
- It can’t be stopped? First, keep your lips closed. This helps with volume control.
- Make a fist with your hand and burp into the hole at the top of your fist.
- Turn your head away.
- Say, “Excuse me.”
- Move on. No need to discuss the incident further
And there you have it, the culmination of my etiquette and parenting experiences. I’ll end this etiquette masterpiece with Shrek because any discussion of bodily functions would be incomplete without him.