I Farted on the Train Tuesday (but that’s not the point)

The REAL message of this piece.

I farted on the train Tuesday afternoon in London, but don’t think I’m going to bang on about that for 800 words — not that I’m above toilet humor (see Farting as Entertainment). And if you send me a video of, say, a dude lighting his own farts, I’ll dutifully watch it and send it on to everyone I know.

But no, this piece is about mature ideas like 1) paying attention to and taking notes on the small things happening around you, which all writers are advised to do, 2) how our ANTS — automatic negative thoughts — sabotage our happiness and 3) okay…farting on public transportation.

The following is based on notes I took while being all present and hyper-curious during a fourteen minute period on an average day and is influenced by two pieces of fiction written in the form of a personal journal (Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding and The Semplica-Girl Diaries by George Saunders).

Context: Travelling from Twickenham to Castelnau Library in Barnes to read The Guardian and then on to pick up 11-year-old daughter from school.

Tuesday, March 1

2:29 pm

To alleviate mild stomach distress, fart on train. Uncharacteristic of me. Only brave because am alone in carriage. Hope no stink, but hopes dashed because stink immediately detectable. Not good because are approaching next station to pick up people not keen on experiencing smell of death. May need to flee.

2:30 pm

Notice appalling sound of something like distressed pig squealing. Great! Have chosen to board loud, broken section of train. Now have two reasons to change carriage: 1) own gas stink and 2) horrifying dying pig sound.

Remember goal of being mindful, so think of Buddha and what he would do with problems. Have angry thought of Buddha sitting under tree all day with no limitations on flatulence.

2:31 pm

Joy! No pick-ups at station so brazenly fart again. Am in big trouble now: next stop is busy Richmond Station, where train will certainly add people. Stench more intense than introductory fart. Consider location change, but fear tainted air will follow like shadow. Look for emergency exit on ceiling for escape.

2:32 pm

At Richmond Station, a man (maybe west Asian ancestry) boards and sits unnecessarily close for such an empty carriage. Can lean over to see his face, but don’t want to see sour expression of disgust, so I look out window to fake deep thoughts about philosophical questions. But all I’m thinking: does Turkish man smell fart? Vow to not notice difference in skin color. We all just humans, right?

2:33 pm

Train pulls away and again broken pig-carriage squeals like ready for slaughter at pork plant.

2:34 pm

Startled by white (whoops!) teenage male who enters from adjoining carriage. I watch facial expression waiting for look of horror then tension too much so quickly look away to non-judging birds in sky who, like Buddha, can fart to heart’s content without scorn. Try not to think about middle age, self-concious, farting guy that I have become.

2:36 pm

Gas problem now behind me (ha!) but notice monochromatic outfit on self. Am guy who does not like bottom half to match top half in terms of fabric color. Am wearing cheap black jeans from Primark (£10) and darkish Topman coat with epaulettes from charity shop (£15, bargain!). Also realize have forgotten belt to hold up pants. Scold self for mistakes, fashion or otherwise. Clothes, like life, pain in ass.

2:42 pm

Now on bus route 72. Am standing behind and to left of girl (skin color, race, ancestry not important!) studying science. As curious person, look over shoulder and see illustration of large purple cells clumped together with unknown scientific words as heading. Vow to read popular, accessible, explanation of general science knowledge.

2:43 pm

While wondering where went off rails with basic science knowledge, look at textbook once more and realize scientific word actually familiar. Heading says: RIPENESS: A KEY CONCEPT. Illustration of purple cells actually grapes. Scold self and laugh at idea of reading science book. No need! Think about if local grocer has papaya and try to remember last time had papaya. Vow to look for papaya later.

2:44 pm

Bus stops for approaching emergency vehicle (note: Google whether UK sirens much louder than US sirens because certainly seems so). Man behind me muttering to self and I try to decipher gibberish but can’t. Fight strong urge to turn 180 to look at man, but fear awkwardness and confrontation. Emergency vehicle screeches by.

Man gets off bus. Am surprised mutter man well-dressed with hair combed. Expecting him to be dishevelled, carrying all possessions in giant rucksack. Vow to address false assumptions I carry of people who mutter to self as always unwashed, homeless and occasionally wearing underpants on outside of clothes.

Vow overall improvement in movement through life.

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