Winds Over The Sahara & On My Den CouchSaturday, February 18, 2012
Today Saturday was a day in which my wife felt all kinds of misgivings. While both our daughter Hilary and her younger daughter Lauren had been coming for Saturday dinners, Rebecca the older granddaughter (14) had not. She and I had had some words. I tend to tease her a lot and I went too far. She made the decision to dine and in fact I did not see her in four weeks. She had indicated she would break her grandfather fast. I prepared what I thought was going to be an easy dinner of Swiss fondue. This meant that I instead of cooking in the afternoon, Rebecca and I could sit, reacquaint ourselves, and chat. It was a most pleasant afternoon.
In Spanish the word for fart is pedo. Pedo derives from the Latin peditum which means flatulence. In Spanish pedo is never a verb so one must “hechar un pedo” or throw a fart. In the past it would be “se hechó un pedo” or he let one out. Mexico has further uses of the noun. It has to do with drunkenness. “Anda pedo,”means he is drunk. “Un pedo de memoria,” would be a hangover to end all hangovers.
In the early 60s I was befriended by a multilingual and awfully cultured Raúl Guerrero Montemayor. He was 10 years older than I was and he gave me my first taste for culture. He told me about Le Pétomane, the famous French flatulist (a professional farter) who could magically inhale or exhale air and liquids with that other mouth, the one that usually does not see the light of day.
For most of my life I have been most careful about releasing any quantity of hydrogen sulphide. I am not sure that I am an exception to any rule. As far as I can remember I have never found myself in an embarrassing situation where a loud noise emanating from my posterior might have made conversations cease. In the worst of times I have been able to slowly release, noiselessly, in the hopes that scent might not point in my direction. In these later years of my life when I am aware that I have been married to my Rosemary for 44 years that does not give me license, in my mind, to inflate the sheets of our marriage bed. Especially during the night I will get up, go to the bathroom, shut the door and let loose of the escape hatch.
I called my friend Mark Budgen and told him of the events of Saturday night (they will follow this). He blamed Saputo for the debacle. Budgen said that most cheese in Canada is manufactured by Saputo and they use a pasteurization process with their dairy products that incites stomach problems and flatulence. He is unable to buy the better Avalon Dairy products as they are not available in Oliver, BC. If Budgen is correct here is one more reason to not visit that windy town.
I explained to Budgen that my fondue had been made from three imported cheeses, Gruyere, Ementaler and Appenzeller, all Saputo-free. He then informed me (how does he know this?) that women are more likely to fart as they have less control. He further told me that my stressing correct manners had to be made less important as “In your age, 69, family is very important. It’s all you’ve got.” I did not get any feeling of comfort for my actions from him.
For years I have considered Beau Geste the best film I have ever seen. I saw it when I was 8 or 9 with my father and mother at the Cine General Paz on Avenida Cabildo in Buenos Aires. I was most impressed by the Geste brothers as children having a wonderful sea battle with ships of the line that sported real canon. The next day I went into my mother’s closet and removed my grandmother’s mandolin. I nailed on a mast, installed sails and a bowsprit and floated in the bathtub. I received a glorious whipping with my mother’s Filipino slippers.
For years I have wanted to find the right time to see the film with Rebecca. She had enjoyed Gunga Din as a much younger girl but I thought that Beau Geste might be a bit too complex. I didn’t want her to have a bad first opinion of this film. Then Hilary told me that Lauren has abandoned her like for films that feature animal cartoon characters with voiced by famous actors and had seen as many of all the films made on the Three Musketeers. In fact she was looking forward to seeing my rare 1939 The Man in the Iron Mask with Louis Hayward. I should have listened. I had decided to show King Solomon’s Mines today. At the last moment I took my chances with Beau Geste.
My DVD was faulty and a quarter through the film it froze and remained so.
That was the last straw for the evening. A bit after the beginning, my eldest daughter, sitting next to me, loudly did her thing and I felt the air hit my thigh and then the scent wafted up my nose. She snickered (or did she giggle?) and then stated, most matter-a-factly, “Excuse me!” I made a comment that a girl her age should learn to control these gas releasing situations. She simply said, “I can’t.” I let it go and minutes later she repeated. At that point I raised my voice and lost my temper while Rosemary indicated I should shut up and cool it.
I gave them all a sermon about manners and being a lady. Rebecca retorted, “It was your greasy fondue.” Then my daughter Hilary shocked me by saying, “At home we are allowed to fart as long as we say, “Excuse me.”” I immediately had visions of people in her home loudly burping after drinking a Coke and then excusing themselves. “Whatever happened to proper manners?” I asked to no avail. My wife, perhaps confirming Budgen said, “I, too have problems.”
Rosemary took them home. I knew right after they left that I had blown my détente with Rebecca and now I am back to square one. What would my mother have done? She used to always say,”Hay tan poca gente fina como nosotros en este mundo.” It loosely translates to, “There are few gracious, distinguished and well-mannered people like us in this world.”
Or perhaps she would have bent me (not Rebecca) over her knee and given me a hard slap with her chinela. Both girls were much entertained by Beau Geste.