Help! My Son Won’t Stop Huffing His Own Farts!

Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we’re talking about knuckleballs, Ladd McConkey, beans, golf balls up the ass, and more.

Your letters:

Amanda:

My six-year-old son is really into smelling things. He smells the pages of books he’s reading, sniffs all food before eating it, and explores any new object or materiel he encounters with his nose first. The other day he smelled a stuffy I gave him and said, “Did you buy this at Target? Because it smells like Target.” He was correct. He really loves to smell his own farts. He’ll rip a really juicy one and drop his head between his legs to ensure the deepest, most concentrated inhalation. The question is: do I stop him? Or would doing so risk thwarting a budding super-smeller super power?

You will never stop a little boy from smelling his own farts. It can’t be done. Their entire world revolves around who farted, and why. They’re too young to grasp the nuances of international politics, advanced calculus, or Kid A. But they can absolutely understand that Daddy just made a doodoo pie, probably because he ate one bowl of chili too many. In this way, fartology is the bedrock of any child’s education.

So Amanda, why stop your own son from exploring this branch of science? As someone who has suffered from anosmia since 2018, I’d be heartbroken if any American child were discouraged from using the gift of smell. You gave birth to a human bloodhound. He’s on track to become the next Roja Dove. The Feds will give him a hefty freelancer contract in exchange for him tracking down El Chapo III with his supernose. You cannot discourage any of this. I forbid it.

Also, this is a phase and he’ll grow out of it. Being a parent means discovering that every clichéd line of bullshit your mom and dad threw at you back in the day was dead-on-balls accurate.

Michael:

Ladd McConkey sounds like a Scottish noir Coen brothers film about two boxing brothers, the Lads McConkey, who refuse to throw a fight and end up in a war with the Glasgow mafia. Anyways, which players in the draft will make you upset if the Bears, Lions and Packers draft them?

If only that were a Coen brothers film in the pipeline. But the brothers decided to amicably break up a few years ago, so unfortunately your Lads McConkey pitch is the exact project that Edward Burns will glom onto to resuscitate his indie directing career. Mike McGlone will have a starring role.

As for the draft, I’m being genuine when I tell you that I only pay attention to my divisional rivals on draft night when they either take a QB or make some kind of glaring, Millen-esque fuckup. Otherwise, I could give a shit. I get mildly concerned if they draft someone I think will be good (like Jameson Williams), while knowing that every pick of theirs is as liable to underwhelm as any other (like Jameson Williams). And when those teams do pick someone of true note, as the Bears will twice on Thursday night, I get more concerned than upset. Caleb Williams is going to be a Bear. That’s a problem, and not merely for him.

But I will raise an eyebrow if any of the North teams snag McConkey late on Thursday or early on Friday night. While both McConkey and his former UGA teammate Brock Bowers both have remarkable All-Lacrosse Name team names, they’re both really fucking good. All they do is find ways to get open. Like if the Chiefs draft McConkey, I have zero doubt that he’ll go to 10 Pro Bowls. None. Scary shit.

Lee:

Could anyone at Defector run a faster 40 than the slowest current NFL player? I think the answer is likely yes for MLB and maybe even NBA, but NFL feels like more of a longshot.

None of us could beat any pro athlete in the 40. We have some athletic writers on staff (Redford comes to mind), but asking any of them to beat out even Lance Lynn in a footrace is a losing proposition. I know that we still have lingering memories of David Wells, John Kruk, and Sid Fernandez’s planet-sized backside making millions while playing in the majors. But those guys retired a long time ago. If you wanna be a pro athlete today, you have to be an athlete. You have to be a maniacal workout fiend with a BMI of 0.2, be on a regimen of 59 different supplements, and test your own urine for chemical imbalances on a daily basis. Babe Ruth isn’t waddling through that door. The barrier for entry in 2024 is way too high. Even golfers are fit now. Have you seen Bryson DeChambeau lately? He’d fucking smoke all of us.

Mike:

Wait a second, George RR Martin STILL hasn’t finished the last book? Typically I’m of the view that artists can and should produce art as they wish and on their schedule, but at some point don’t they owe it to their fans to complete their story?

The kicker is that it’s not even the last Song of Ice and Fire book that GRRM hasn’t finished. It’s the penultimate one. He’s still supposed to write another one after it! This is why I only write standalone novels. If I write 400 pages of a story, I don’t wanna have to be on the hook for writing 400 more pages of it. I’m fucking tired. Leave me alone.

That’s the corner that GRRM painted himself into. He booted up this enormous fantasy series, it sold a bazillion copies, and now he has the weight of expectation squashing him even though he’s filthy rich and could, conceivably, retire in extreme comfort. Part of me feels for him, because I’m a writer too and it’s frustrating when the pipes get clogged. Every writer has been there. Most of them will tweet about it.

But you do yourself no favors if you hype up your own shit without even having finished it. GRRM man has written more blog posts about where he is with The Winds of Winter than he has pages of the book itself. If GRRM he said, “You know what, everyone? I’m old, and I’d like to relax. I’m gonna let another writer take the baton,” every sane person (emphasis on “sane”) would have accepted it. Instead, the old fucker is like, “I have gotten very deep into my latest book, so much so that actually I have time to write a dozen spinoff coloring books simultaneously!” It’s gotten uncomfortable. Just admit you have no pages, George. Then you can watch Aaron Rodgers destroy your beloved Jets with a clean conscience.

Leo:

As a former lineman yourself, do you think Andre the Giant would’ve been better off in the NFL? Which position would he have been most suited for? At his absolute peak, do you think he could’ve been dominant? Asking for a friend (my cat). 

I can’t be the only one who thinks if the Andres the Giants wanted to they could put together a football team and dominate the NFL.

In all seriousness, Andre the Giant chose the exact right sport. His gigantism was a clinical malady that took an enormous toll on his back and joints, and he was a legendary alcoholic who allegedly once drank over 100 beers in a single sitting. He wasn’t in shape to play NFL football, in any era. Maybe he could have been a novelty bench player in the NBA, but otherwise he was best off right where he was: as a paid carny working for one of the most disreputable businessmen of modern times. Also, he was brilliant in The Princess Bride. Rest in Pinot.

Sam:

My wife and I welcomed our first child nearly a month ago. Before she arrived, I had the job, nay the privilege, of putting together her combo changing table/dresser. Normally putting together such furniture has me contemplating the great beyond. But because this was for my future daughter, I found the experience more rewarding than galling. I’m PROVIDING FOR MY CHILD! What’s your power ranking of shit parents build for their kids from most rewarding to least?

I have to dig deep into the memory bank for this one, because my children are no longer little. The irony is that the most rewarding thing I ever put together for my children came when one of them was already out of grade school. It was when I installed a new ceiling fan for the 15-year-old during the pandemic. I learned basic home electrical work from my father-in-law, and used that knowledge to shut off the circuit to my son’s room, disconnect the old fan from the electrical box, and wire in the new one after I’d assembled it. When that fucker started to spin on my first try after I threw the circuit back on, I felt like the handiest handyman who had ever handied. I NEVER get a home project right the first time. I usually put everything together only to realize, on the final step, that all the screwholes are facing the wrong way. So this fan replacement was a real coup. Every time I see that thing whirring around in his room, my heart soars.

Anyway, Sam asked for rankings, so here we go:

  1. Bouncy seat. Very easy to assemble, AND it shuts your baby up. A deeply satisfying project.
  2. Exersaucer. Same deal. A working exersaucer is worth $500,000 to any new parent who just needs five minute to his or herself.
  3. Crib. Assembling a crib is an all-day affair and by the time you’re finished with it, the crib you just bought will have been the subject of an FDA recall. But at least you’re building an actual piece of furniture, and at least your child will enjoy sleeping in it. Just don’t ask me to change the crib sheet, because that’s pure torture.
  4. Dresser. Total pain in the ass, and all you get for your trouble is a basic dresser that can’t even fit all of their shit.
  5. Lego sets. Before your kid can put a Lego set together on their own, guess who has to do it? You. I remember being pleased with myself when I finished assembling a replica Empire State Building, but fishing around for Legos the size of a Nerd in a little plastic bag marked “9” is not a fun process.
  6. High chair. I just spent an hour putting this thing together and the kid won’t even sit in it. I remember repeatedly trying to lower my children into that fucking thing, timing it so that their kicking legs would clear the legholes. Then I’d strap them into the chair and they’d paint the room with applesauce. Not gratifying in any regard.
  7. Christmas toys. You know the deal here. At midnight on Christmas Eve, you can hear every father in America cursing in unison because they didn’t realize batteries weren’t even included with this fucking thing.
  8. Pack-N-Play. This portable crib weighs a mere ton, and the buttons to collapse it only work if you put 5,000 pounds of pressure into pushing down on them. What a godsend!
  9. Car seats. You don’t technically assemble car seats, but ask any parent how they feel about car seats and they’ll tell you that they want to napalm Britax headquarters.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten some basics on here, but when I tell you that it’s a joy to have those things scrubbed from my brain, I’m not lying. Nothing beats being on the other side of all that.

HALFTIME!

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Todd:

I’m a huge TV fan. I usually juggle seven to eight streaming shows on any given week. We all know you love movies. But with all of the sports you’re required to watch, do you ever get or make time to sit down and enjoy stuff like 3 Body Problem, For All Mankind, Reacher, Yellowstone, Tokyo Vice, and stuff?

I’m glad you asked, Todd. You know how I said that nothing beats life after you’re out of the small childrearing business? This is a major part of that. I can now watch anything I want, anytime I want. Do you know how fucking incredible that is? There was a decade-long stretch where I could only watch movies that featured either a princess or a fucking Minion. I missed out on entire runs of historic television, Breaking Bad included. The FOMO was unrelenting. I felt like I had missed so much pop culture that I’d never catch up.

No longer. I watched all of Top Boy with my oldest son. I watched all of Shogun with my youngest. And when my kids sleep in on the weekend, I can knock off multiple episodes of shit that only I want to watch, like Tokyo Vice (which I bailed on before Mina Kimes assured me that they eventually move away from the white girl and her stupid club), True Detective, The Gentlemen, Succession, and anything else I wanna watch. I’m pop culture literate again, and I can hardly believe it. This is why I never go out at night anymore. I’m too busy watching cool stuff. Ripley is next on my list. Believe that.

Michael:

For no reason in particular, I realized the following: anything that is no larger than the space between your thumb and index finger when put tip-to-tip (the “OK” sign) can fit in both your mouth and your asshole. Is this an evolutionary development, a bizarre coincidence, or something different entirely?

Sometimes I physically test out theories posited by readers to see if they hold water. But seeing as how I have no desire to stick a golf ball up my asshole, I’m gonna take Michael’s word here. Sure yes, anything that size or smaller can fit into either of those orifices. This is not the work of God. This is simply a byproduct of the digestive system’s engineering. You need an orifice that can accommodate large bites of food, and you need an orifice that can excrete the occasional Yule log. What goes in must come out. That’s science. No further lab work required.

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Doug:

This morning I was going to get something out of my girlfriend’s car and ended up crop-dusting pretty much the entire main area of our house: from the living room, through the kitchen, and into the garage. A distance of probably 40 or 50 feet. It got me wondering, what do you think is the longest distance a human being has ever crop-dusted?

This question is giving me flashbacks to lockdown, when every news outlet published an animated video of workplace airflow circulation. Turned out that if someone sneezed in the third floor shitter, it would waft up 16 stories and end up directly in your cubicle. We all may as well have been licking public toilets the whole time, that’s how crafty airborne pathogens are. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I can finally put this learning to use regarding IMPORTANT matters, and not just some dorky pandemic that killed 7 million of us.

Now, this is all about conditions. I could fart in the middle of a gale force hurricane and the smell isn’t going to travel far because I’m out in the open, where my expelled gas can rapidly dissipate in every direction. You need containment (an indoor space), airflow (a central ventilation system), and volume (a really big, nasty, vinegary toot). I propose that someone once farted near a stationary fan, and that fan blew the gas directly into a narrow vent, where it was carried into a sales meeting taking place hundreds of yards away. In celebration of draft week, let’s call it 100 yards even. Any farther than that and a fart dies. But with that much direction and accidental wind power, it’ll have legs. Teach your children this.

Speaking of farts…

Josue:

Can I get a ranking of beans (pinto, black, garbanzo, etc)? Use any criteria you see fit. Thanks.

Any bean ranking I do will be arbitrary in nature, so I’ll just tell you the only beans that matter to me: soy, pinto, and cannellini. That’s it. The first is the godfather bean of entire regional cuisines. The second is the one I require with all of my Mexican food. And the third makes for a lovely dip. Fava beans are good too but you don’t need yet another Hannibal Lecter joke, so I’ll skip out on talking them up.

(Chickpeas, née garbanzos, are also important but I don’t consider them real beans.)

Joe:

Is The Matrix our generation’s version of The Wizard Of Oz? If not, what movie do you think kind of hits that fantasy mold where more parents than not are gonna make their kids watch it? Terminator? The Hoskins/Leguizamo Super Mario? Xzistenz?

This is a boring answer, but it’s the original Star Wars trilogy. If that’s too old for consideration, then it’s the Harry Potter movies. It’s not The Matrix, because that movie became dated the second all of its terrible sequels came out. I didn’t even think the original was that good of a movie. It’s way too long, and it’s an indirect knockoff of Dark City, which is way more legit. You may now yell at me in the comments about all of this.

Adam:

I’m gluten free (not by choice!) for over a decade. I had bread and pastry dreams for the better part of the first five years. I’m in the miasma of my subconscious, housing a loaf of sourdough but also freaking out about it, because even in the dream about it I know it will wreck my intestines. It’s a horrible slo-mo of powerlessness and panic. You’ve been sober for a bit, so do you have liquor/booze dreams?

Only on occasion. Back when I didn’t eat beef or pork for a long stretch, I’d have a similar dream to Adam, where I’d be eating a steak and saying to myself, Hey I’m not supposed to be doing this. Then I’d wake up relieved that it was all a dream, and that I’d still been a good little boy in real life. Then I started eating beef again and all that went away. Seeing as how I haven’t touched alcohol in over five years, you would think I’d have a similar pattern of nightmares. Instead, I dream about smoking a ton of weed and then driving. Then I wake up and, again, find myself relieved that I didn’t do any that naughty shit. Much better than waking up from a hot sex dream and realizing you still haven’t gotten laid in a month.

Andrew:

After listening to The Distraction episode on pitching injuries with Justin Halpern, I realized it’s time to compete with these velocity academies by starting a youth knuckleball academy. Who needs velocity when you have turbulent airflow? Who wants to risk injury trying to throw 100mph when you can get outs by throwing 60mph and standing perfectly upright?

It’s one thing to throw a knuckleball, and another to throw it so well that you can strike out the best batters in the world with it. I know because I was one of 50 million young boys who tried to perfect the knuckleball as a youth, because I knew it was my only shot of getting to the majors. My knuckler didn’t knuckle for shit. Send me to the IMG School Of Hard Knucks and maybe I would have improved by 17 percent. But to steal the old Dennis Miller line, 17 percent of shit is still shit. No matter what kind of pitch you throw, you still need to have some semblance of major-league talent to put into it. If that weren’t the case, I’d have a Cy Young by now. What a load of shit.

The second thing is that no young pitcher with stuff wants to be a knuckler. If you can throw the ball 90–100 mph, you’ll want to throw it that hard, because it’ll make you feel like a fucking god. Do you know how many fastballs I’d throw if I had major-league velocity? All of them. I would’ve needed a dozen Tommy John surgeries by legal drinking age. It’s the same as how lousy NBA free throw shooters will never switch to doing it underhanded. Sometimes vanity can’t help but get in the way.

Matt:

I’ve come to the decision that I can no longer stay in my backwards red state, and I’m moving the family to a more hospitable environment (both ecologically and politically). I’ve lived in this soon-to-be-former state all my life (40+ years) and (until recently) was very proud of it, but I’m very conflicted and sad about actually having to move away. Do you have any advice about making a new place feel like your new home? Do you embrace where you came from? Go full bore into your new land?

I grew up itinerant, which means that I spent a lot of my time trying to fit into places where I didn’t fully belong. For a long time, I figured the best way to fit in was to affect the ways of the locals. Sometimes this was deliberate (I remember occasionally affecting a New England accent while going to school in New England as a teenager). But now, it’s strictly an unconscious thing. I’ve lived in Maryland for over 20 years now, and I haven’t bothered trying to refashion myself into a Marylander, whatever that may consist of. I don’t root for the Commanders. I don’t festoon my house and car with the butt-ugly Maryland flag. I don’t keep a Natty Boh beer mirror in my mancave. But I have picked up the faintest trace of a Maryland accent, drawing out my Os ever so slightly (not during the anthem though, that’s stupid). Someone once said I had a slight Southern accent and I refused to believe it, for both practical and moral reasons.

Regardless, my Marylandish qualities have been part of a natural transformation, which is the only way you can go about assimilating into a new homeland. It’s not an overnight thing. You have to live somewhere for a while to have it become a genuine part of you. You don’t have to go full native, and you don’t have to wear your outsider badge with pride. You can just be who you are and see what happens from there. You will not automatically feel at home leaving Florida (I’m assuming you live in Florida) for a more politically normal place. You have to let your new surroundings grow around you, and that can take years. Prepare yourself for that.

Oh, and starting a family helps.

Email of the week!

John:

I finally found the nearly perfect woman for me. We have a similar sense of humor, our kids get along great, and our families have even been fantastic together on holidays. Almost across the board she ticks every box, and I can’t wait to propose to her.

With one exception. No matter what restaurant, bakery, coffee shop etc. we go to, she doesn’t ever bother looking at menus while we are in line or waiting, then proceeds to “hmmmmm” for two to three minutes once at the register (or when the wait staff is at the table) only to inevitably say something along the lines of, “What do you like?” or “Just give me your favorite drink, but make it a surprise!” Very rarely the people seem fine with it, and give her some random order. The other 99% of the time they look exasperated, they sigh, and take several minutes trying to think of what they can order for her without her being upset. Once at a Dunkin, the kid at the register said, “Please don’t make me pick… I hate it when people do this.” I’ve had friends ask for similar suggestions from a wait staff before, just never on a consistent basis. I had no idea how much it bugged me and made my anxiety go through the roof until now. Besides tipping heavily after the fact, or maybe taking a pre-trip edible, do you have tips on how to deal with this?

Tell her to look at a fucking menu. If you’re gonna get hitched, you gotta put it all out there. Don’t wait until you’re five years into this shit to tell the truth.

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