Usurping the Throne
Ever since I was a child, I’ve known my father as the King of Farts. It was a matter of great pride in the family. After all, if he was the king, that made me the Prince of Farts, of course. Who wouldn’t want to be royalty?
Only recently, however, did I discover the not-so-fragrant story as to how my father became king. I had always assumed that he had been anointed king the same way that, say, Hank Aaron or Elvis Presley got their nicknames.
Nope. Not my Dad. He usurped the throne.
It all starts with Oui magazine — a “gentleman’s” magazine that was all the rage in the 1970’s. They caught wind of some of my father’s research. In particular, my father had a patient who was severely lactose intolerant (before people really knew what that was). Anyway, my Dad figured out that milk led this man to have terrible gas. So in the name of research, my Dad put him on a milk-only diet for a few days and told him to count the number of times he farted. My Dad got a nice academic publication out of it; the man applied to the Guinness Book of World Records, but because there was no witness, they wouldn’t include his superhuman output in the book. It was this patient upon whom Oui magazine bestowed the title the “King of Farts.”
Eventually, however, the patient’s time in the sun would fade, and my father would come to be known as the king. It is not clear how or when this happened, but it is obviously still an issue of great sensitivity to him. Rarely have I seen my Dad angrier than the time a reporter referred to him as the “self-proclaimed King of Farts.” My father bellowed, “That title was given to me!”
Or was it?
Which brings me to the point of this post: no one wins the prize from the last Freakonomics contest. My Dad answered the question himself in the blog comments, and he hardly deserves a signed book for ruining everyone’s fun by giving the answer.