Saturday, December 08, 2007


Fern and I coined a new term. I, of course, forgot all about it, until she reminded me last night. It was in response to a certain situation at a wedding last month. The wedding had square dancing instead of the traditional awkward couple-swaying so common at most weddings these days. Square dancing increased participation because the caller would tell you exactly what to do, and, even if you didn't have your own partner at the wedding, asking someone to square dance is a non-sexual advance, so it was relatively easy to participate as a single person.

At any rate, we each separately noticed a very particular unpleasant smell emanating from the crowd of people dancing. Because so many people kept swapping partners, it turned out to be nearly impossible to identify the exact source of this odor, but as the night progressed both Fern and I put forth several private theories, most of which didn't hold up to the long night of dancing. We also each worried that we were the objects of other people's hypotheses since we realized that we were just two more faces in the crowd of possible suspects. Eventually, since the smell continued no matter who was on the dance floor, I was left with just three surviving suspects.

First, I had to suspect the caller. He was the only common denominator whenever I was dancing (other than myself, and I ruled myself out because I'd know if it were me). He was also a logical suspect, the sort of crunchy granola, older dude who wouldn't hold in his farts if he had to cut one.

Second, since the dance floor wasn't far from the bathrooms, it could have been a plumbing, rather than a gastric problem. The women's bathroom seemed fine from my two visits there, but who knew about the men's? It could have been the source of a lot of unpleasantness.

And finally, I suspected the dinner. It had squash and pheasant in it, both of which could have been an unfamiliar irritant to several different stomachs on the dance floor. Maybe there wasn't a single perpetrator of the stank, but several emitters of silent but deadly gases. This "grassy knoll" hypothesis seemed at least as likely as the caller, and slightly more likely than the men's bathroom (because, really, wouldn't one of the men have mentioned it?).

At any rate, it was a rather unsatisfying mystery, because it remains unsolved to this day. I didn't even realize anyone else had noticed it, until during the car ride home, Fern abruptly announced that we needed a word to describe the lingering, but unidentified, fart smell on the dance floor. "Ambigasity" won the short debate. We don't have an answer, but at least we have a word.

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