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Technology?... Darn Tootin'!
By Steve Wingate

I've worked hard to supply my family with all of the 21st century technology we can get our hands on… digital cable, DVD player, computers, Dolby Sound, Playstation, cable Internet, and digital cameras just to name a few.  You would think that my kids would never be bored.  Or at least that's what I thought anyway, because I didn't have anything close to what they have when I was growing up.  

Back then, our cable only had 16 channels, and our VCR was the size of a pickup truck.  I didn't have anything as amazing as a Playstation-- instead, I had an Atari 2600 which you could buy hundreds of games for, but they all looked, played, and sounded exactly like Pong.  To make matters worse, I didn't get this Atari until after the 5200 came out and made the 2600 obsolete.  That was mostly my dad's doing… he called it "staying on the trailing edge of technology".  

Unlike most families, however, we did have a computer.  My dad built it himself, (apparently out of motorcycle parts and deceased kitchen appliances) and it occupied the entire garage and worked off floppies the size of poster board.  Neither me nor my sister was allowed to go near it, because it broke down anytime someone other than my father tried to use it.  Not like the computer did anything that we would be able to understand, much less have any fun with… it did have one game called Edna 1.0: The Computer Psychiatrist.  You could type in questions and it would actually answer you.  Endless fun for an eight year-old boy.

ME: You suck.

Edna: Tell me why I suck.

ME: Because you smell like a @#%&.

Edna: Why do you think I smell like a @#%&?

ME: Because you suck, you *!&%@#!!!

Edna: You don't eat with that mouth, do you?

ME:. *&$@! you.

Edna: I'm telling your father.

ME: Not if I pour grapefruit juice in your keyboard, you won't.

Edna: Perhaps I was being rash…

My father always tried to remind me that I had it pretty good compared to how he grew up.  He told me many times that he would sit for hours and watch chickens peck the ground because TV hadn't been invented yet.  And that I should be glad to have an Atari and a primitive computer because all the games he played as a child involved sticks, rocks, and sometimes even small hapless animals.  He also claimed that his father didn't have anything to play with but dirt and grass because rocks and sticks hadn't been invented yet.

So, keeping all this in mind, you will see why I was surprised to witness the incident which I am about to relate.  My kids are into their fourth week of summer vacation, and already the outdoors has ceased to fascinate them.  The electronic gadgetry inside had lost its luster by last week.  Upon hearing the following conversation issuing from my daughter's room, I decided to see what was going on:

Virginia:  Okay, now you.


Isaac:  Okay, now smell it.

Virginia:  Ewww!  That stinks!  (cough, gag)

Isaac:  Your turn.


Virginia:  Ow!  That burned!  Quick, smell the box!

Isaac:  Gross!  

At this point, I knew I had to intervene--  mostly out of sheer curiosity, but partly to make sure no one needed CPR.  They were, as some of you parents have already deduced, farting into a cardboard box to see if it still stank afterwards.  I turned immediately and left the room without asking any questions.  I would have preferred to find them doing something a little less demented, such as running a meth lab or an illegal gambling ring.

I wondered how they could find amusement in such an activity when they had all this neat stuff to play with.  In addition to the electronic luxuries I mentioned earlier, my kids also have an endless array of toys capable of sucking an alkaline battery dry in fifteen minutes-- toys that walk, talk, beep, boop, whinney, wobble, garook and grunt.  My daughter has a CD collection that rivals my own, and my son has a game console with a sophisticated sound system in his room.  All of this stuff, and they're holding farts captive in a cardboard box.  Determined to get the bottom of this, I came back in the room in time to see my son with his face stuck in the box, inhaling deeply.  I walked out again, went back in and asked: "Where did you kids learn that?"

My daughter looked at me and wrinkled her forehead.  For those of you who don't have preteen girls, this expression is part of sophisticated sign language known only to preteen girls.  It translates to: "Are you really as irretrievably dense as I've always thought you were?"  Keeping this expression plastered to her face, she said:  "From you, Daddy."  She then moved her face into an expression formed by sarcastically raised eyebrows and semi-slack jaw.  This one translates to: "Duh."

"Duh" was quite apt for that moment.  After all, where does any child learn about flatulence?  From their fathers, of course.  Duh.  Their mothers certainly can't be relied upon to impart this kind of valuable information… most of them probably claim they never squeeze cheese at all.

My daughter will of course develop the typical female aversion to flatulence as she enters her teen years, and will try her best to try and block out the fact that she once spent an entire afternoon farting into a box with her younger brother.  I intend to make anyone who dates her read this article first.  Forget baby pictures, this is real dirt… dirt which her younger brother will always be glad to share with any potential suitors.

As each generation gets more and more technology dependent, will such childhood activities fall by the wayside?  Will my grandchildren have some fancy new gadget that farts for them?  Will they be able to download custom frump tones and synthetic odors from the Internet?  Or will analog rectums prevail?  One can only wonder if years from now, my children will be telling their grandchildren that they had to do it the old-fashioned way with lots of straining and grunting, always mindful of the possibility accidentally soiled underwear.

Well, I must go now.  My kids want me to try the box.

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