It wasn’t last Christmas, so maybe two Christmases ago my New York City sophisticate daughter Erin was home for the holidays and was sharing some of her nifty NYC recipes. The first one was awesome. I believe it consisted of pan fried kale with sliced radishes and pumpkin seeds drizzled in lemon juice. Perhaps I’m skipping bacon or some other delicious element. Anyway, it was delightfully tasty. For that matter so was the second dish she made for us.
It was Christmas Eve, as I recall. She was cooking down fresh artichokes, something my family never ate unless you count pickled artichoke hearts on a salad. There’s some yum yum eating. I don’t recall the other components, just that the end product resembled salsa verde or a thin split pea soup. Oh, it was tasty alright. As we sipped and sampled the soup, Erin offered this caveat: “Some folks have gas reactions to this soup.” We reassured her that we’d be fine. We were going to Christmas Eve worship service after this early supper. Certainly we would not fart in the house of God. As the old Chinese fortune cookie joke goes, “Man who fart in church sit in own pew.”
“Oh that is so good. I’ll have another bowl.” All of us approved highly of this high octane flatulence rocket fuel and, tragically as we were to learn later on, ate it up with smiles on our faces and soup spoons in our mouths. Not much time went by before the artichoke soup began doing its malevolent magic.
Strangely, the entire Old Mcdonald’s Farm cast showed up in full throat– “Here a pig, there a goat in a cart; here a cow, there a horse. Fart, fart fart.” The resonance was amazingly melodious and slightly psychedelic, as if we had all taken LSD for dinner or hit the bong hard. Each toot was funnier than the last. We all regressed to being children on some level, fascinated with flatulent bubbles in the bathtub, laughing like stoned orangutans high on fermented mangoes. It was a bizarre predicament, a pickle barrel moment, as we considered, “Toot, toot, toot,” that we had to go to an hour’s service at church. How was that going to work?
Fortunately, fartichokes are all bark and no bite, so there was no scent trail, just burps of varying length, strength, timber, and melody. Perhaps fartichokes could have been the earliest form of cave man music. I imagined happy cave dweller families lounging around after a bowl or two, humming and then singing something like Sam Cooke’s “Working on the Chain Gang”
That’s the sound of the men (hup hup)
(Hooh aah) (hooh aah) (Ba boom, boom)
(Hooh aah) (hooh aah)” (Kaboom, plume, dradroom)
In our case, the chain gang was working on our intestines like some supercharged weaponized pharmaceutical flume. We all felt the chain gang tap dancing across the cilia in our guts. At some point they started riverdancing at 100 steps per minute, creating pressurized vacuum pockets of gas that raced for escape to a lower air pressure zone. The exercise suddenly ran double time.
That’s the sound of the men (Lordy, Hep me!!)
Till the sun is goin’ down (Patoosh)
Working on the highways and (ba, ga, ba) byways
And wearing, wearing a frown” (frooot,froot, toot toot)
Then you hear somebody sa-ay (ah fruity)
That’s the sound of the men (hup)
Oh, Lord, have mercy. We’ll never make it through Silent Night. We could make it a living nativity scene and create a barnyard atmosphere. No, it would never work. We had to escape before our vibrations caused the loose plaster in the ceiling to hail down upon the starry eyed congregation. It would have been just plain unChristian to remain in the presence of the baby Jesus with such disjointed bowels.