It sounded like a long rusty ring-shanked nail giving way to a crowbar and releasing a decades old grip from a well-seasoned piece of timber... only wetter. Despite being in the middle of a crowd of talking people one evening well past sunset at my parents farm, I heard the noise clearly somewhere in the dark behind me and I now turned to seek out the source. It didn't take me long to realize that the noise had been a magnificent specimen of a farm and that the fartee had been none other than grandpa.
As I stared into the darkness in disbelief at where he was standing about a half dozen paces away from everything, I suddenly hoped that nobody else had heard it mostly because this was mixed company, half family and half neighbors and friends. As I turned to rejoin the conversation taking place on all sides, people seemed to be so engrossed in their conversations that they hadn't heard what had just taken place or they were being polite by pretending to be engrossed in their respective conversations.
I didn't think much about the incident until some of the neighbors were leaving a little bit later and we had all walked around to the front of the house to see them off. As we were standing around in a circle saying last minutes words of wisdom, I saw grandpa slink off about a half dozen steps into the darkness and let another loud ripping buzz cut sounding fart only a little wetter sounding. Suddenly it hit me. My grandfather not only had a bad case of gas but he had taken his hearing aid out earlier because the loud croaking sounds of the crickets were too loud for him when amplified. He thought he was politely and silently farting out of ear shot of all the guests but in reality, they were louder than he knew, way louder.
This time, I knew I wasn't the only one who heard him because several heads noticeably jerked when the fart broke through the cool night air. I swallowed a burst of laughter as I suddenly realized the humor in a deaf man farting and thinking he had done it out of earshot of everyone else. I was able to regain my composure briefly but no sooner than my grandfather had rejoined the group, he was almost half trotting out into the darkness again. Another fart ripped through the conversation and suddenly my stomach doubled up with peals of laughter just dying to escape. The guests were doing their best to pretend they hadn't heard but suddenly they were stepping up the pace in the goodbyes as they made their way to their vehicles. I think all of us were praying that the wind didn't suddenly shift and put us downwind of grandpa. As the guests got into their cars and slammed the doors, I bit my lower lip in an effort to keep the laughter silent not wanting to embarrass my grandfather who had once again rejoined the group. I wasn't doing a good job and had to turn my head away from his gaze as tears of laughter streamed down my face and I kept a firm grip on my lower lip with my teeth. My grandparents said goodnight as they made their way out to their RV parked out by the shop and I swear as they disappeared into the darkness, grandpa was in the lead at a fast trot.