Children’s Fart Game: ‘Doorknob’

The following is transcribed from an interview between the informant and the interviewer.

Main Piece:

“So around the time I was in middle school with my friends, we would play a game where….. um I don’t remember the exact rules for…. So if basically, if someone farts and then if one of your friends say ‘doorknob’ before you say ‘safety’ then they get to basically punch you until you find a doorknob and touch it.”


I collected this piece of folklore inside the informant’s house during an interview. The informant, my brother, is an African American male who grew up in California. He learned this game from one of his friends while in middle school, and he recalls enjoying playing with his friends even though he stopped once he entered high school.

My Thoughts:

This piece of folklore which was only played with my informant and his male friends shows a type of policing in order to create proper etiquette, but also makes a natural bodily function into a game. This game polices the act of farting (which is frowned upon in public) by making it okay to punch the person who farted if they do not say “safety” fast enough. It also turns farting into a game by simply making it an interactive game for young boys to play. In this case, the doorknob could represent a type of escape.


For another version of this game see