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Right of Passage

It was my one bodily function too embarrassing to admit.

For a long time, I managed to completely avoid the issue. Like a little child who believes firmly if she covers her eyes no one will see her, I figured if I ignored the situation it would just go away.

Sneezing I could handle. Coughing was annoying but nothing to fear. Even burping was okay with me.

But passing gas around the one I loved? I swore it would never happen.

It wasn't that I was in complete denial. I understood basic biology just as well as the next gal—the ecstasy of onion rings inevitably has its dark side. But I wanted my new husband to find me beautiful, desirable, and attractive. Somehow emitting foul smells didn't seem to match that job description. And so I decided tooting (for lack of a more dignified term) would be just fine—as long as it wasn't around Eric.

This process of evasion was easy enough while we were dating. Sure, I encountered the rare interminable car ride where I had either to sneak one out or implode (Will he notice? Is he pretending not to smell it right now?), but those awkward moments were novelties, not the norm. It was an erratic problem that cropped up occasionally and could be plucked like an unwelcome weed among the beautiful flowers of our relationship's garden. And that was the way I liked it.

Then we got married. When we wed, we moved into his apartment. Our love nest was small—very small—with walls as thin as wax paper and too few rooms to hide in. Such limited quarters offered few opportunities to avoid revealing those daily bodily odors I'd taken such pains to conceal. Under such circumstances, what was a girl to do?

As we were talking one evening, I shyly confided my reservations to Eric with a nervous laugh. He stared blankly at me, not quite comprehending my dilemma.

"Just let 'er rip," he advised.

"No!" I recoiled. "That's gross!"

"It's not gross," he insisted. "It's natural."

"Not around you, it's not!" I declared. "I'll never give in."

And for a while, I actually pulled it off. Constantly on high alert, the slightest threat of imminent tooting would prompt an emergency evacuation. Whether I was curled up with Eric on the couch, cooking dinner in the kitchen, or reading in bed, I'd drop what I was doing and bolt for the nearest "safe zone"—the bathroom, the balcony, even the back of our walk-in closet.

But then one day, about a month into our marriage, I let one slip. It wasn't planned, it wasn't calculated—it bypassed all my carefully crafted defenses, and I had no choice. Mortified, I averted my eyes. Please don't let him have heard, please don't let him have heard, I mentally chanted.

But I knew he had. It was too late. At first I wasn't sure what to do, and there was an awkward, aromatic silence. Finally, I decided to break it—with a laugh.

Then Eric did what I'd always feared he would—he laughed too. But his wasn't the type of laughter I'd anticipated, the "you're-not-attractive-now-because-you're-just-one-of-the-guys" laughter or the "ew-I'm-never-touching-you-again" type. His chuckle was amiable and accepting, an "I-can-so-relate" snicker that was warm with "where-have-you-been-all-my-life" overtones.

We were laughing together now, time-warping back to humor of the second-grade body-instrument caliber. I halfway expected one of us to whip out the armpit banjo, but it didn't happen. And before I knew it, things were right back to the way they'd always been: We were adults conversing normally about things not propelled by wind power.

From that day forward, I was finally able to relax. The walls don't feel like paper towels anymore, and I've stopped hightailing it to the bathroom every time we have beans. Sure, it's still a little embarrassing. And I have to admit, I'd much rather sneeze, cough, or burp. But I no longer fret.

It took a while, but I finally got the message: Eric loves me—all of me, just the way I am. Cranky moods, bed head, and even the grim reality that I don't always smell like a rose aren't going to change that.

Angela and Eric Baerg: married 1 year; met: through Angela's sister (they were 14); favorite activity: playing board games

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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Humor; Laughter; Marriage
Today's Christian Woman, Summer, 2008
Posted September 12, 2008

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