Most drives were innocent enough; a family going out to run errands. Shopping, or dropping one of us off at an after-school activity. Karate, soccer. Things parents send their kids to hoping to teach self discipline and teamwork.
This day was warm, spring giving way to summer.
The car windows slid up smoothly, thumping home to seal us in.
It just played at the back of our heads first; a skunk on the road? The sickly sweet smell of decay from far away? Had our father protected us from something with his superior sense of smell?
Dad grinned, and flicked the windows-lock shut.
The smell worsened. Rotten eggs, sulfur. Budweiser and hotdogs with onions, 2 days later. Bits of them hanging on inside a small intestine as bacteria feasted, emitting their own wastes that were taken up by our father's own waste management system and hurled forth from his buttocks into the hermetically sealed cabin of our Ford Taurus.
It's the laughter that hurt the most. We choked and mashed our window open buttons uselessly; that route of escape was shut off from us by the fart monster.
Long road trips were drives of inevitabilty; the excitement of "hey we're going to visit family in New York!" was tempered with the knowledge that by 8 hours into the road trip, one of us will have passed out from methane poisoining at least once.
Years later, my brother and I lived together. He lived in the basement, I upstairs.
Early morning, and I go to the shared bathroom.
The smell hit me as soon as I opened the door to the basement.
I'd read about septic tank leaks killing whole families; I'd obviously caught the beginning. "Steve?" I yelled down into the basement, fearing he'd succumbed to the biohazard.
"Are you ok? It smells like a sewage leak."
Low laughter greeted me.
Like father, like son.