Children’s Game: The Fart Touch

Main Piece:

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

“And, there was this really strange one that we used to do. I was just talking to [my brother] about this. We can’t figure out why this was like a ritual. We had to do this. But it was something that we all did and it was something that we had to do. Now, it’s a little gross, but it has to do with flatulence. So, whenever anybody farted, we had to run and touch glass. And if you were the last one to touch a piece of glass then you had ‘the fart touch’ until somebody else farted and you weren’t the last person to touch glass. Then, they would have ‘the fart touch.’


I collected this piece of folklore in an over-the-phone interview. The informant, my uncle, played this game with his friends and brother while growing up from elementary school to middle school. He is an African American who grew up in Cleveland, Ohio.


This piece of folklore is something that in my informant’s social group would consist of boys. This piece of folklore takes a natural bodily function and turns it into a game. It makes fun of the idea of farting in public and also brings an aspect of shame to farting because of “the fart touch.” This game acts as an outlet for young boys to discuss the human body in a way that is frowned upon by society. It, in a way, encourages farting in public so that the game can be played, but also discourages it with “the fart touch.” A possible reason that the boys had to touch glass is because glass is usually considered a clean object. People tend to clean glass more because it is obvious when glass is dirty. So, touching glass in this case is kind of like cleansing yourself from this “gross” act of farting. It’s interesting that my informant, as he is older, now finds this game that he would weird, and he can’t remember why he would do it. I think a part of the rush why kids would do it is because it would have frowned upon by grown-ups. So, as my informant got older and more inclined to agree with grown-ups about its gross nature, the game would lose its appeal in the same way that fart jokes are seen as immature as you get older.