Not to be crude, but is anything more universally funny than the humble fart?
Rare is the person who doesn’t chortle at the sound or even the mere thought of a fanny beep. Doesn’t matter who or how old you are, a cheek squeak will likely raise at least a smile if not a crinkled nose.
Pardon me for going all pop psychology on you for a second, but it’s said that misfortune and indignity are the essence of humor. Think of a classic slapstick bit like someone falling down an open manhole. Trouser toots are a social manhole, especially in a dignified setting like a school bus.
(This blog is based on actual events, though names, places and some personal details have been changed to protect the innocent as well as the guilty and avoid libel suits.)
The timeless appeal of seam splitters was demonstrated by the mad-libs that my passengers Rollo and Calliope did during their ride to Helga Poppin Intermediate School one morning. They dutifully filled all of the blanks in the text with “fart” and that old favorite “poop” the way my kids used to do when they were young and getting endless hours of fun from making our boxy Apple computer’s voice say “Poop poop poop poop poop.”
Oh, the hilarity!
Asked by Rollo to read the ad-lib opus aloud over the PA — not quite the level of material our Bus Driver of the Year award winners typically share with their passengers — I was relieved when the call to release the kids came before I could get started destroying the last shreds of my professional dignity. But I’m sure it would have been good for a laugh.
One individual, a seventh-grader I’ll call Methane Man, has been a reliable source of thunder down under. He’s even reveled in his reputation for sparking gusts of laughter and howls of revulsion with a robust rump roar. Uncannily (pardon the pun) able to detonate a bootie bomb on demand by his pals, Methane Man was a source of daily amusement in the ranks until he experienced an unexpected gas shortage at the pump, if you will.
“I haven’t farted in a month. Is that bad?” I overheard him ask one afternoon during the ride home.
Unable to resist chiming in, I got on the PA and replied, “I thought it’s been a little too quiet around here.”
“I’m waiting for an explosion,” said Oscar, a fellow seventh-grader who sits perilously close to Methane Man.
An explosion was a distinct possibility given that humans typically backfire 14 times each day. In the meantime, ever-mischievous eighth-grader Coggins brought a whoopee cushion on board to help break the boring silence if not the actual wind.
“This is what my life has come to,” I thought as I was serenaded by rude noises all the way to Bubblefish.
Air biscuits aren’t the only things on the menu, mind you. From time to time there are pleasant sounds and aromas floating about my bus.
Kids have busted out their instruments and played a tune, though the temptation to simulate a tush tuba eventually overcomes them. Being the good influence that they are, I was tempted to put on a tape of “Our Song” by Roger Waters and Ron Geesin, a collection of syncopated flatulence, belching, wheezes and other bodily noises set to a bouncy piano, but decided against it when I envisioned being browbeaten by scowling parents and school administrators, not to mention my boss.
On the aromatic front, Heloise the middle schooler often boarded in the morning redolent of fresh bread or cookies. Exotic scents sometimes waft from the back, making me wonder if someone is making waffles or baking potatoes. After some runs, I expected to find evidence of a cooking fire, but fortunately haven’t … so far.
One morning during the usual rollicking ride to Helga Poppin, I noticed something especially fragrant and was moved to grab the PA mic and ask, “Who’s using aftershave? What are you lunatics doing back there?”
“Oh, nothing,” Jehosaphat replied, giggling and looking guilty. Then I noticed his pal Beetlebomb spraying what turned out to be deodorant.
Deodorant would have come in handy the time I noticed all the windows were being frantically opened by my passengers.
“Someone cut the cheese!” Beetlebomb informed me, so I told him I would turn on the fans in front to blow the fumes away. (Those fans were frequently requested after that.)
When the kids kept complaining that Brutus and Hogshead were continuing to produce breezers, I was tempted to radio in that my bus was under a serious gas attack. Instead, I went on the PA and told my precious cargo, “Hey, thanks for the back drafts! I was afraid we were going to run out of gas. And cheese, too. I just wanted to say I appreciate anyone who helps us meet our daily quota.”
When they went silent and looked confused, I said, “I bet you didn’t know there’s a New York State law that says there must be at least one fart on a school bus during every trip.”
“Really?” someone asked from the sea of puzzled faces in my overhead mirror.
“Absolutely!” I replied. “You could look it up!” (Though I didn’t say where.)
I actually had them going for a bit, but it’s no joke that my bus runs on gas in more ways than one.