Art day in fifth grade was the only time when Catholic school didn't feel suffocating. The atmosphere in the classroom relaxed since we were allowed to bring in our music to play while we drew. LL Cool J, C & C Music Factory, Snoop Dogg, and Soundgarden all had the rare opportunity to be played at St Rose of Lima due to a liberal teacher who either overlooked the double entendres or was oblivious to them.
I looked forward to class every week, and I even had the opportunity to pick the music once. (I was responsible for C & C Music Factory). One day that stands out in my mind is the day Richard brought in Metallica. I hadn't heard it before, but I knew I would love it because I loved Richard.
As Enter Sandman played, I got up to sharpen my pencil. I passed Richard on my way to the sharpener and complimented his music choice. He said something about how it was his favorite band. I giggled because everything he said was hilarious even when it wasn't and a bombastic fart came out as well. My face grew red. I covered my mouth in shock.
"My sister told me girls don't fart," said Richard before he turned back to his drawing. The magic of the moment was gone.
"I fart all the time," I thought. I was so adept at farting that I could do it on command. My sister Mary would often use my farting as a form of chemical warfare against our sister Joanne.
After that, I felt so ashamed that I ever farted. I retired my ability to fart on command. What followed was a twenty-five-year struggle to suppress a natural bodily function in service of a childhood fiction. Any indication that I have a gastrointestinal tract beyond nutritional consumption needed to be suppressed and hidden from the public consciousness. Food went in my mouth, but I didn't want anyone to know that it ever came out. Using public restrooms for anything but peeing, hand washing, and hiding was strictly forbidden.
My kids didn't get the memo that they're supposed to be ashamed of their bowels. In fact, they refuse to go to the restroom until we're in a public place. We'll be at home all day where they had ample opportunities to poop, but they decide they need to urgently go when we're at a public park and the only available bathroom is an overflowing hole in the ground in a room with shit stains covering every surface. Or, they will wait until we're stuck in traffic on a road trip to take the poo that they've been unable to take for days. Something about gas station bathrooms work like laxatives for them.
They prefer the bathroom, as well, if it's a single occupancy with an enormous line outside of it. I beg and plead with my kids to wait until we get home, but they have none of it. An eternal people pleaser, I sweat as the aroma of their poop fills the room thinking about the five people outside who are currently cursing my name.
They see that there's nothing to be ashamed about. Sure, it might smell terrible, but my kids can't help it. When they have to go, they listen to their bodies. I know this is healthy and that they're modeling good behavior. I know that I could learn a thing or two from them. I'd like to say I am receptive to these lessons. Unfortunately, nothing trumps the hand of a fifth grade Richard. His words will always prevail. I will continue to deny that I fart until the day I die.