It’s an Ill Wind

by Alan B. Combs (it’s no one else’s fault)

This is the story of a fellow that spent the early part of his life working in a photo-development studio. It was a small studio, but he worked hard and developed a large clientele of people who took their film to him to be developed. His control of the chemistry and technology of photography was excellent. In fact, he was given the nickname “Prints” by his grateful customers.

You must, of course, resist the temptation to become suspicious too soon. This is not the story of Snow White waiting endlessly at the Photomat and singing, “Someday, my prints will come.” That particular story is much too old for this venue.

Back to our protagonist. He would have continued until retirement as a photo technician, but as so often happens as we grow older, he became victim to certain digestive indiscretions. His increasing inability to digest many common dietary constituents led to that particularly odious problem, flatulence. Now, this is a problem that is well-known to most of us as we get older (and is something to which the younger members of the audience can look forward), but Prints found that the volume of gas he produced was excessive, even gigantic. In fact, it started to have negative consequences in his work and he was driven to see a physician.

Again, you must resist the temptation to jump the gun on this tale. The gases did not make the sound “Honda” and the doctor did not tell him he had an abscess. Thus, this is not the particular story where abscess makes the fart go “Honda”; that also is just too old for this audience.

The propensity to generate unacceptable volumes of gas became worse for our protagonist. Sometimes, however, there is a silver lining hidden within the blanket of adversity, and this was the case in this story. Prints discovered a new talent, one that he would not have known about, except for his affliction. He discovered that he could control the sounds that were made during gas release. After much practice, he could generate musical notes and other sound effects. The overture to a John Phillips Souza march, speeches by the Speaker of the House, the crack of nearby lightning, the long-rolling rumble of distant thunder, the roar of a 727 in full throttle, the mewling of a den of hungry kittens — all of these and more became part of his repertoire. The audience for such performance art is small, but very enthusiastic. He was forced to give up his photography, and take to the stage in his new showbiz career.

Now, now, is the time to become suspicious. It is likely you may have even recognized the person this story is about — the fartist formerly known as Prints.

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