A Breath Of Fresh Air

March 31, 2004

MILWAUKEE (APUPI) Fresh from their victories over smoking in California, New York City, and Ireland, activists in the war for clean public air have opened up the next front, demanding that flatulence be outlawed in restaurants and bars.

“The research results are still coming in, but it’s common sense that second-hand methane is a clear public health hazard,” said Chastity Titeass, a spokeswoman for the most prominent anti-flatulence group.

“Odorless my ass,” chimed in one of the other members of the group, holding her nose, under her breath.

“Despite the unscientific recommendations of the bean and broccoli lobby, it clearly wasn’t sufficient to simply set up farting and no-farting sections in the restaurants. The oppressed waitpersons were almost unable to breath when they had to attend to the customers in the designated flatulence zones.”

In response to this public pressure, the city council passed a new law last week, totally banning flatulence in all Milwaukee public eating and drinking establishments, including the restrooms.

The issue wasn’t confined merely to air quality.

Other concerns were raised to the forefront a couple months ago, in the disastrous explosion at the Guaymas Mexican seafood restaurant on the west side of town, which injured dozens of people. A birthday party had been in progress for hours, with ample helpings of frijoles and Monterey Jack, in the hermetically sealed flatulence area.

When the waitress brought in an octogenarian birthday cake, with the requisite number of candles, it resulted in a sudden explosion. It blew out the walls, and expelled many of the diners out into the alley. Repairs are estimated to be in the tens of thousands of dollars.

As a result, the city council decided that a complete ban of enclosed-area emissions was the only solution that would ultimately satisfy public safety concerns.

In a town renowned for its beer and cheese, the new restrictions have hit the bars particularly hard.

“I don’t care what those environmentalist wackos say,” said Joe Peeusky, a local tavern owner for three decades. His business is down by two thirds since the new law has been passed.

“My customers come here to relax. They want to have a brewski, eat some pretzels, let it hang out, relax. Know what I mean? They’re not going to want to go outside when…things happen.”

A patron agrees.

“I know it’s a disgusting habit, but what are you gonna do? I just can’t go that long without it.”

“I’ve been passing gas as long as I can remember. We all did it, ever since we were young. There was a lot of peer pressure when I was a kid–we used to have contests, for decibels and stench, and sometimes, flame length and duration. You get together after school, and the word is, you know, ‘light ’em up.’ Now I’m really hooked.”

He continued, “I tried quitting once. I got really agitated. I was really hard to live with.”

“I also gained a lot of weight. Yeah, I know, you can’t see it on the scales, but I swelled up like the Goodyear blimp on steroids. I just couldn’t kick the habit.”

He’s not alone.

It’s a tragically pitiful and, at the same time, repugnant sight to see groups of customers huddled outside the doors of the city’s bars and restaurants, indulging in their repellent and seemingly unnatural urges. The sounds of their gaseous expellations resonate across the ancient brick fronts of the buildings, and the pungent, almost suffocating aroma slowly drifts down the windless street, a testament to a vile and uncontrollable addiction.

“They don’t have to go through this,” says Ron Blowhardt, the local head of Flatulaholics Anonymous. “A combination of Beano and our twelve-step program can allow them to eat a full meal in a restaurant, without the need to duck outside. The important thing is to acknowledge that you have no power, to submit yourself to a higher authority, which is to say, eensy weensy bacteria in your guts, so small you can barely see them with a microscope.”

In the meantime, Ms. Titeass is excited about the next battles in this new front in the war for public air quality.

“We’re going after the airlines,” she said. “People have to sit in a small confined volume for hours with this. They found out that no smoking sections didn’t work there, and no farting sections won’t either. In fact, I’ll bet that once they see the reduction in maintenance costs on their air filters, they’ll adopt it even without legislation. Sure, people might have to step outside occasionally at thirty-five thousand feet, but that’s their choice. No one’s holding a gun to their head to make them…do this.”

Her ultimate goal?

“I think that it’s outrageous that NASA thinks that astronauts on their way to Mars for many months should have to put up with such disgusting habits. We’ll make sure that they won’t go until they’ve solved the problem. Anyway, from what I hear, there’s already enough methane up there.”

(Copyright 2004, by Rand Simberg)