A word bomb to rock the senses
It happened some time ago when the larger aftershocks were still frequent. Boom! It was one of those loud, rumbling tremors with the added effect of glasses going ting-a- ling and lighter objects wobbling on shelves.
Typically, everyone froze for a millisecond and made wide-eyed contact but by then it was over and the adrenaline silliness started. Children first: "Ha ha! It's God's fart. God's farting! God's farting!"
"Yeah!" I replied. "It sure is God farting."
My enthusiasm was false. I felt awful. It wasn't due to the aftershock but hearing children chant that awful word. I grew up with the word "fart" ranked almost as highly as that other four-letter f-word. We had to say "bomb".
Yes, that's right, bomb, which means sentences like these were not uncommon throughout my childhood: Rebecca, did you bomb? Hey, who bombed? Tell your cousin not to bomb. Say pardon after you bomb, - that kind of thing. You can imagine how confusing it was to read headlines about nuclear weapons.
As liberal as I am with common swearwords, I still get a pang of ick when people, especially children, say fart - even if it is proven to have psychological benefits for coping with earthquake trauma.
When people say society is going to hell in a handbasket, it's because children use that word.
Earlier this week, I was startled in the breakfast foods aisle of the Stanmore Rd New World. They sell a cereal called Cocoa Bombs. Through no fault of my own, the process went: "If bomb equals fart, then cocoa bomb is something more, um, solid." Don't blame me. Mum started it. Perhaps you need to think about what you make your children say. This very day you might be ruining breakfast cereal for your little ones.
There are plenty of euphemisms for the small explosion of gas that is expelled through the body's leading exhaust pipe.
As far as I know, my family is the only one to use "bomb". Other friends say/grew up with "pop-offs", "fluffs", "stinky poppers", "pootinks", "trumps", "pardies", "bottom burps", "blow offs", "poo noises", "unspeakable evil", "let- offs" and one friend admitted her boys have taken to saying they've just "done some poo dust" (much to her displeasure).
Roald Dahl's "wiz poppers" is reasonably popular, too, and although it may not be highbrow, at least it is a literary reference.
I worry about the raft of animals and objects who are taking the blame. "That was a squeaky tyre", "who shot a bunny?", "oops, I trod on a beetle", "excuse me, I stood on a duck". These are God's innocent creatures for goodness' sake.
I discovered there are those who totally disassociate themselves from the biological process by saying "pardon my bottom".
One English friend was brought up to call them "trafs", which lead to such odd excuses as "taking a trip to old Trafford" or "going to see Sir Alex".
My most hated of all the euphemisms is "guff" but saddest of all was this confession from a sheltered friend:
"We didn't have a word for fart. I literally do not remember anyone in my family farting. Ever."
During my extensive research, I discovered that it really didn't matter what you were brought up to say or how you were brought up to pardon yourself after passing wind.
I have a friend whose childhood was similar to mine in that fart was a terrible swear word. I suppose her poor parents hoped she would grow up polite and refined in such matters. I have seen her pull her own finger.
A while ago, I was in the passenger seat of her car. She wound up the windows and asked if I could smell petrol.
I said no.
"I'm sure I can," she said. "Take a big sniff."
Let's just say, it wasn't petrol.
- © Fairfax NZ News