Thursday after the testing period ended, I gave my students a math puzzle. I told them they could work in groups, but they all chose to work in singular silence. The silence was pierced by the unmistakable sound of breaking wind, followed by twenty-three loud voices. “Ewwww!”
A pocket of space formed around one young man. A half dozen pointing fingers declared him the source of public shame. “It wasn’t me,” he yelled. “I have never farted in my life!”
The word farted was greeted with the same gasps and teeters that accompanied the original faux pas.
“Never?” I queried.
“Never!” He repeated emphatically.
“Okay. Now I know it was you,” I told him.
“No way!” He stomped his foot and frowned at me. Then, grinning, he demanded, “How did you know?”
I said, “Well, when you said you’d never farted I knew that was a lie. And I thought, if you’d lie about that, then you’re probably not telling the truth now, either.”
Laughing, he tried to insist that he really had never farted in his life. I shook my head. “If that were true, you’d be so full of hot air you’d be floating around like a balloon, and probably would have popped long ago.”
The entire topic was too much for the class at large. They were all laughing hysterically and wiping tears from their eyes. It took me awhile to get them redirected to their work. Then, as the last of the tee-hees faded, Jasmine wondered, “Have you ever farted Ms. A?”
“Me?!” I exclaimed. “Of course not!”