Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 04.19.09
Stanstead, Quebec


Cutting a rose or making bad smells

When you're traveling with kids and a dog for an extended period, as we were recently, and it's too cold to roll down the windows, you can expect the air to get a little, well, ripe.


In a word, farty.

(I'm sorry if this offends but there really isn't a more precise word. Toot, gaseous discharge, flatus, bum burp -- none of these carry the simplicity and clarity of "fart." If you're offended, I urge you to stop reading and carry on with whatever gives you pure and happy thoughts.)

So we're driving down the 401 when all of a sudden my nose starts to twitch. My eyes dart suspiciously. Is that...? Did someone...? Ohhhh....

"All right, who did that?"

In the rear-view mirror, I see a child with a wide grin on his face.

"Ewww! Ack!" the other passengers exclaim.

"Sorry," says the culprit.

No he isn't.

"That's disgusting."

We drive on. A little while later:

"Nooooo! Again?"

"I can't help it."

"Yes you can," I say.

"No, I can't."

"You're doing it on purpose," I reply.

"It's because of the Burger King."

This is true. We have documented proof.

"Well, you can hold it," I grumble.

At this juncture, his mother intervenes. "If he holds it in, he'll get a stomachache."

"Oh, come on. That's not true," I say. Are my eyes watering?

"Yes it is. It's not healthy to hold in your gas."

And this, my friends, is why they invented the Internet.

If you Google "holding in farts," you will be provided with over 1.2 million results. Clearly, this is a topic that many people would like to see aired.

(Interestingly, there are over 42 million results for "holding in gas," but a good portion of these have to do with holding companies, gasoline prices and something about "Halle Berry Holding Baby and Pumping Gas" -- another argument for the precision of "fart.")

In my thorough research (all of five minutes), I determined that the jury is out on the potential harm of holding in the air down there. There is mention of bloating and constipation and, far more inconclusively, the possibility of the methane and other gases adding enough toxins to your bloodstream to poison you. And, yes, a stomachache appears to be possible.

But at best, these problems would occur only in the case of chronic retention. And I don't think holding it in for the duration of an Easter weekend car trip would cause any long-term trauma. Let me put it another way: the trauma caused to me, the smeller, is far greater than the brief discomfort of the dispeller.

The kids, of course, think it's hilarious when I protest, start gagging, etc. This is in part my own fault. We're big on the cheap laughs in our house (shocking, I know), and potty humour is as cheap as it gets. For example, we long ago established a tradition of making a big commotion when we drive past something foul, like a pig farm or a pulp mill or a bank executive.

"Oh, Abby. Pee-eew! Is that you? You stink."

"No, Daddy, it's you. You stink. You're gross."

Why this is so hilarious is one of the great mysteries. After all, everyone passes gas, even the Queen of England (though in her case, it's probably referred to as "cutting a rose").

Yes, as over 1.2 million websites will attest, passing gas is perfectly natural. But not in my van. Unless, of course, it's me.