I was on the all-important third date with a very cute guy. Things had been going well so far. We went out for dinner and had just returned to his apartment. Then, mid-cuddle, a bout of flatulence I couldn’t quite control took hold.
Startled and embarrassed, I abruptly rushed to the bathroom. I tried to catch my breath and gain my composure, chastising myself for eating the whole burrito, but much to my chagrin, it only got worse. I clogged his toilet.
Seven years later, we got married.
Acknowledging a natural human function is an essential part of life. Crap literally happens. To all of us. If honesty and openness are key components to any healthy relationship, why hide the inevitable? If you and your partner are dedicated to telling each other everything, why leave out the most basic component of your biology? Because society deems it gross and unseemly? Cultural taboos are dumb. Gendered expectations (think: “real ladies don’t talk about farts” or even worse, “real ladies don’t fart”) are even dumber. It’s time to break down the stereotypes, stigmas, and shame that accompany gastrointestinal biology so we can normalize our bodies. And I’m now proud to do that, even if it’s just within the confines of my personal relationship. Shifting social standards have to start somewhere, why not at home?
It might have taken me a lot longer to learn that vital lesson if I hadn’t been with someone so accepting of who I am, and I mean all of who I am. Someone who knocked on the bathroom door on that third date after I had been in there for 10 minutes trying to fix the flusher and asked if everything was alright. In my moment of desperation, I broke down and tearily told him the truth. At first he sighed. Then he laughed. Then he called his building’s super and blamed it on his roommate. Then he gave me a hug. While we hadn’t yet slept together, that moment forged an intimacy that was even greater. I experienced a level of comfort and relief previously unknown in any romantic partnership.
To this day, we still joke about our farts, not just the ones from that date, but the long litany that have been produced — and will continue to be produced — over the course of our eight years together. Toilet humor is a fixture of our communication. “I feel a big one coming on.” “I smell a ghost!” “You might not want to go in there for a while!” “Don’t even try blaming the cat,” are all common phrases in our home.
Some might call our humor crass and our conversations crude, but I call it what it is: human. I even earned the pet name “Smellica.” While some might find it offensive, I see it as an affectionate acceptance of the less attractive, but all-too-real part of me, and part of life.
No one should have to hold in any part of themselves.