“You know how people talk about “deal breakers” in relationships?” said Will, my friend of the same name. His whispered question broke an hours-long silence between us. He and I were studying in the children’s section of the library among other industrious Calvin students, and all was quiet but for the flipping of pages, scribbling of notes, a few whispers, and the occasional overwhelmed sigh.
“Yeah,” I said, giggling. I knew what he was going to say. People’s heads at surrounding tables were already perking up, squinting about suspiciously over the bridge of their nose—none in the same direction.
“Well, I think most of the time people aren’t really serious about deal breakers,” he said, “You know, who knows what flaws you’ll be willing to accept when the time comes.” He paused, grave and unsmiling, and made sure I was looking directly into his eyes for what he said next: “Your farts are a real deal breaker.”
Obviously Will was right. Where most farts are like an annoying pinprick, mine slay. Death had arrived in the library that day, and it smelled like a month-old taco forgotten in a gym sock. Will had barely been able to draw enough breath in to get the statement out. Even so, I’m not sure he’d been able to see much through the thin slits of his eyes, which he kept nearly shut against my fart’s prickly touch. Almost everyone else in the room shared a similar look. The entire children’s section was effectively laid to waste, and no one had a clue who—or what—was the source. Tablemates turned on each other, panning from face to face with looks of accusation. Others looked furtively at their bottoms, worried their own seemingly innocent fart had gone out of control and started rampaging through the tranquil isles of books like Frankenstein’s monster.
Meanwhile, I was just trying not to laugh, because anyone who could laugh in the face of this abiding stench could only be the farter. It would be like laughing in the presence of a Dementor, except more difficult because Dementors don’t thicken the air until it needs to be diced up by knife into smaller, inhalable bites. For two decades up to this point I had maintained my cover—revealing it only to friends and family (much to their displeasure)—and I sure as hell wasn’t going to blow it now. I kept my chill. I studied. Multiple times I bit my finger to hold back the crazed laughter bubbling in my chest, the evil kind of laughter that villains have when their plans come to fruition.
I wish I could say this was a one-time thing, but, in truth, my odious butt has been a plague to me for many years. I’ve gone to the doctor for this shit. I scheduled an appointment solely for this purpose and literally spoke the words “I’m just here because I have really bad farts.” Nothing came of it. So what we have on our hands here is a genuine medical mystery, folks.
The mystery began in middle school. Up until then, as far as I can tell, I was farting like the rest of them (except for a time in the first grade when I thought I was farting but, strangely enough, was actually pooping my pants). It was on a family vacation to Florida that it occurred to me I was unlike anyone else. Special, even. That year, we decided to drive the long distance from Wisconsin to Florida rather than fly. While a seemingly innocuous decision, little did any of us know how sinister the results would be. For but hours into the trip, juiced up on Mellow Yellow and munching on a bag of pizza flavored Combos, I farted my first true fart. All those that had come before in my lifetime were practice.
My family thought it was funny. At first. Less so toward the southern tip of Illinois, when we had to stop for the third time to air out the car. Swerving into gas station parking lots, stumbling red-eyed out the doors with mysterious clouds following at our backs, gasping for fresh air, a little me cackling with glee—onlookers probably mistook us for a family of potheads. It wasn’t long before the Mellow Yellow and Combos were gone, replaced with Gas-X and Beano. So went the rest of the trip.
I am still repaying my debts for this car ride. But I’m afraid even a Lannister could not pay back enough debt to make up for the early deaths I’ve undoubtedly provided each of them. Even worse, this was the work of a mere padawan. I’ve committed far more heinous crimes since then, each more devastating then the last. I’ve ruined appetites, cleared out rooms, crop dusted offices, let close friends think it was they and not I. I once woke someone from a nap like a damn necromancer.
So, back to the library I decimated, I obviously I knew Will was right. That wasn’t my first rodeo—it was a lifetime in the making. But his statement did get me thinking: I can’t hold the devil at the gates every time I’m in romantic company. Sooner or later he’s gonna break through and make a fuss, and Will will be right. The deal will be broken. Whomever I’m with will be lying on the ground fearing for her life, muttering “what hath God wrought?” as the life fades from her eyes.
“I’m sorry,” I’ll say. “It wasn’t God. It was I.”
Through years of trial and error, I’ve found that a strict diet of mainly vegetables, fruits, and meat keeps the farts at bay. However, I’ve also found that my body is much like Chris Traeger’s: finely tuned, like a microchip, and the wrong food is like a grain of sand. It could literally shut down the entire system—or, in my case, shut down yours.