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The Life-Threatening Hazards of Gastrointestinal Humor

As I've detailed at length in my first book for popular audiences (A Big Stink: a Tale of Ardor and Odor), I have spent my career documenting the human propensity not only to disavow our own risible emissions but to robustly insist upon our innocence when confronted.


As flatulence remains invisible to the mortal eye—detected only by our aural and olfactory senses, and perhaps in cases of extreme emission or emission at extremely close quarters, also by our haptic perception—its emergence can quickly give rise to fulminating denunciations and full-throated denials. According to a founding giant in the field of gastrointestinal humor, 97.8% of such encounters occur without ensuing violence (see Wozniak’s seminal 1956 study of diners at the annual “La Notte della Pasta e Fagioli” at the famed Milanese restaurant La Fragranza).


However, a recent incident in Broward County, Florida offers a chilling reminder that our field of scholarship comes with putrid perils—and that non-experts should tread carefully in both the practice and study of gastrointestinal humor in the wild. Here are the core details of the episode, which I have catalogued for the archives of The Proboscis Institute in New South Wales:



Case #: 6723-122B

Geo-coordinates: 43 Northwest 13th Ave, Dania Beach, Florida, USA

Environment: Dollar General Store, the checkout line

Accused Emitter: Shanetta Yvette Wilson, age 38

Alleged Accuser: John Walker, age 56

Date: 25-11-2018 (11-25-2018 American)

Source Material: Broward County Offense Report #02-1811-002500 (see below)


Incident Report: “While standing in the check out line, the victim [Walker] and the defendant [Wilson] had a verbal dispute in reference to the defendant farting loudly. During the dispute, the defendant pulled a small lock back knife from her purse, opened the knife and told the victim, she was going to ‘gut’ him. The defendant pulled back her right hand with the knife as if she was going to attack the victim. The victim was placed in fear that he was going to be stabbed by the defendant. Defendant was located by responding officers and charged with felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. NOTE: it remains unclear whether the ‘deadly weapon’ in question was the knife of the flatulence.”


This near-death experience in the Dana Beach Dollar General Store checkout line should be sobering to us all. Gastrointestinal humor may seem like child’s play, but it should not be attempted without extensive preparation. For neophytes who feel the call of those open spaces and tight quarters in which our scholarship blooms, I strenuously recommend first obtaining a “Certificate of Stench Disputation Alleviation,” popularly known as as the “Diffuser Defuser Card,” from The Proboscis Institute. My colleague Dr. James Cococola runs a course every Wednesday morning at 5:45 am, Australia time. The class can now also be taken online (with the purchase of a home-use scent pack).




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