I’m about to use the word Jesus and fart in the same sentence and I gotta tell you, I’m a little bit nervous about it. 😀❤️😁
When Helen was about 4 or 5…she, along with her 8 year-old brother Hank and I, were standing in line at a Wendy’s that was attached to a truck stop. We were on our way back from a family vacation on the NC coast.
An older white man walked in and took his place in line behind us. He was about 5′ 7″ a little hunched and a little overweight. He wore a dirty (greatly loved) trucker-style baseball cap, overalls, work boots and a t-shirt with short sleeves.
It was clear that he had been working at or on something…a farm, a truck, a house. The dirt and sweat stains were everywhere on his clothing.
The place was pretty packed. We ordered, got our food and sat down at a booth and began eating.
A few moments later, the-man-in-overalls sat down at the booth directly adjacent to ours. The back of my bench was connected to the back of his. He and I were eating back to back.
The meal was moving along quite nicely, Hank was recounting any number of stories from our fantastic family beach trip and Helen was sitting still, which was pretty much a miracle, by the way.
She was, in-only-the-way-Helen-can-do-it kind-of-way, methodically choosing the perfect fries from a pile of many, and one by one dipping them into the ketchup, she all by herself, had delightfully squirted into one of those little paper ketchup cups.
When out of absolutely nowhere, Helen moves from that awesome seated position that’s just so stinkin’ adorable…you know where the crease at the back of her knees isn’t even close to the edge of the booth bench so her legs are straight out…and stands up, turns in rapid fire motion to the overalls-man behind us, leans into his space to the left of his left shoulder and announces with a nonchalance that any seasoned poker player would die for and says, “You know, everybody farts.”
I think I might’ve spit my food out and started laughing…you know that kind of laughing parents do when they’re trying not to laugh but it’s just too impossible not to.
I do know Hank was laughing. He was laughing so hard he wasn’t making any noise. He might’ve even had milk come out of his nose.
I, as nonchalantly as I could turned to Helen and said, “Let the nice man eat his burger Helen. Why don’t you just turn back around here and have a seat. Hank was telling us about the jellyfish he saw” or something like that.
Helen turned back around and slid down into her seat and yep you guessed it…those little legs underneath her little dress…landed in just the right slidy-sweaty-pleathery-way on the bench with the largest unintended gaseous-bang you can imagine.
I thought Hank was gonna lose it completely. He is laughing out loud now and I’m pretty close. Helen is remaining totally stone-face innocent…looks at both me and Hank as if absolutely nothing has happened…and begins the fry to ketchup-cup routine again.
Eventually we calm down and finish up our meal. Hank takes our trash to the trash bin, returns to grab his drink. Helen and I grab ours from off the table and begin our journey to the exit.
And again with no warning whatsoever, as we make our way out of the Wendy’s there in Smithfield, NC…the bastion of southern pride, a church on every corner and a Bible in every hotel room, my little Helen turns to the man-in-the-booth and says with a matter of factness that would literally awe even the most seasoned politician, “You know, even Jesus farts.”
Now I wish I could tell you what happened next, but I can’t. I think we just kept walking out.
I don’t know why I feel a deep need in my heart…heck my gut…to tell you this story.
Maybe it’s because I think it’s funny. REALLY funny.
Or maybe because my Helen is soon to be moving on, graduating high school in a few short days.
Or maybe just maybe, it’s because I think Jesus would be laughing too. He would “get it.” He would “get it” that being human means farting; laughing so hard that we cry; loving our kids just the way they are; loving them so much that when they grow up and graduate, your heart hurts and your heart sings all in one perfect, glorious and messy moment.