Must’ve been a good dinner

Posted: January 1, 2011 by writingsprint in postaday2011, postaweek2011, Weird
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“It is better to urp a burp and bear the shame, than squelch a belch and bear the pain.” (author unknown) Today’s exercise was to write about a social faux pas. I chose burping.

Did you know that cows burp on the order of 500 to 600 liters of methane a day? Yes, methane. Not carbon dioxide, not digested corn or grass, but natural gas. If you held a match near a cow at the moment it burped, both you and it probably wouldn’t live to tell the tale (1). It would make a neat obituary, though. You might also get partially barbecued cow (2).

Burping – also called belching, ructus, rifting (in Scotland (3)), reviewing the menu, reworking breakfast, and calling the buffalo – is the release of gas from the digestive tract through the mouth. It’s generally considered impolite, except by cows, six-year-old children, and males of any age when not in mixed company. It’s caused by swallowing air from eating too fast, like when you shovel handful after handful of munchies into your mouth; by a buildup of air from drinking gassy beverages like beer and soda; or by a buildup of gases as the body tries to digest food that’s difficult, like some vegetables. When caused by eating too fast, the gas in a burp is just that: air. When caused by beer or soda, the gas is carbon dioxide.

Excessive burping can be a sign of irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux disease, or food allergies. Which means that a fraternity house is probably a hot zone for these conditions to go unnoticed.

Bill Murray gave us what I still consider to be an amazing display of belch control in the movie “Meatballs,” where he held a short conversation with Chris Makepeace via belch. Okay, it wasn’t all that impressive: he said the words, “Oh, really? Really?” I can’t belch words without laughing. In my lifetime, I’ve seen someone burp the words “Mary had a little lamb” and let off a continuous, disgusting sound that lasted four seconds.

The Guinness world record for the loudest burp was over 108 decibels – louder than a chainsaw at ground zero. (Two people were treated for gas attack and the man’s dog has since recovered from the smell. (4)). The Guinness world record for the longest burp is… is… hang on, there doesn’t appear to be one. Hmm. I think there’s a movie in the making for National Lampoon.

(1) The author has no idea if this is true.

(2) You would probably get trampled by an angry cow first.

(3) So says an anonymous source in Yahoo-land

(4) Just kidding

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