I was making up the bed and I let out a muffled, feminine poot.
“Safety!” I shouted reflexively, before I realized that Bill was at work, the boys were at school, and my toot wasn’t placing me in physical danger.
In the days before Doorknob, flatulence was followed by an “excuse me” or the proclamation, “I farted!” followed by peals of laughter by the small boys who are amused by such things.
And then testosterone poisoned our house, Doorknob was discovered and our way of dealing with farts underwent a radical change.
One night I was reading the movie reviews in my New Yorker when I heard squealing in the den where Bill and the boys were enjoying a rare night of TV. There was giggling and scuffling and shouts of “Doorknob!” and “Safety! and “I smelled it”! and “I touched the doorknob! I’m safe!”
“What was going on in there?” I asked when everyone was tucked in and Bill settled into bed.
“It’s the greatest game ever,” he said with satisfaction. “I don’t know if Finn invented it or heard about it at school, but someone is a genius.”
“Please explain,” I said skeptically.
“Say Finn farts. If I hear it or smell it, I yell ‘doorknob!’ and then I can tickle him all over the place until he gets away and grabs a doorknob. But if he admits to the fart and says ‘safety’ before anyone calls a doorknob on him, he can’t be tickled.”
I looked at him and waited for him to continue. He gazed back at me impassively.
“That’s it?” I asked. “You sit around and listen for poops and try to call them?”
“We don’t just use our ears, honey,” Bill corrected me. “We use our noses, too. Some smelly ones are silent. And that’s not the main focus. We were actually watching baseball, and ‘Doorknob’ was a side activity.”
“That was a lot of yelling for four guys. You had to be faking some of those farts.”
“Honey, maybe barbecue for dinner would lead to a more potent game, but you gotta admit, those Beef Balls can rouse up some gas,” Bill said.
I scowled. It’s not my cooking; it’s just that my boys are over-achieving farters, in my opinion.
The next night I was browning chicken when Bill came home from work. Drew had just finished setting the table. Bill walked in the kitchen and loosened his tie, then bellowed, “Doorknob!” He rushed Drew, scooped him up in his arms and began tickling him.
Drew squirmed and shrieked and twisted himself into fantastic positions. Finn and Porter came rushing in and stood by, shouting encouragement. At one point during Drew’s frantic gyrations he almost put his head through the window. Then he reached as far as he could and barely touched the door to the patio.
“I’m safe!” he yelled, red-faced.
“Has anyone ever bled in this game?” I inquired, wiping the tears from my eyes and turning back to my skillet to hide my laughter.
“Not yet,” Bill answered, setting Drew down, “but it’s likely to happen. Everyone’s getting a lot better at hearing and smelling farts.”
Later that night I was putting my clothes away while Bill brushed his teeth. He turned off the water and I grimaced. I knew he was wiping his toothpaste lather onto my hand towel, although he has his own hand towel in the bathroom.
Then I heard a tiny “PPfffft.” I tiptoed to the bathroom. My lover’s back was to me.
“Doorknob!” I shouted, and I tickled him just below each armpit, his most deliciously sensitive spot.
Bill’s right. Someone is a genius.
I realize the above story isn’t a rousing endorsement for the following recipe, but it’s been requested, and here it is.
Beef Balls In Red Wine Sauce
The boys are starting to fight over this meal, so if you have big eaters I would double the recipe. I serve it over rice. If your people are apprehensive about vegetables, you can be all sneaky and pulverize them so they disappear into the tomato sauce. If you’re not a drinker I bet this would taste fine without the wine, but I can’t say I’ve ever tried that myself.
Mix a pound of ground beef with a tablespoon of paprika (I like smoked paprika), some salt and pepper, and a teaspoon or so of dried thyme. Form the mixture into 10-12 balls and brown them in some olive oil in a skillet. Add to the skillet a chopped onion, a few chopped carrots, a couple of stalks of chopped celery, and some fresh garlic, minced or chopped. I use 5 cloves but I love garlic. Cook over medium heat until the veggies wilt a little.
Sprinkle some flour over the stuff in the skillet. (2-3 Tablespoons?). Stir everything gently so you don’t break the meatballs. Stir til the flour disappears.
Add about 1/4 cup red wine, a can or so of chicken broth, a generous splash of Worcestershire sauce and a cup of tomato sauce (not paste) and stir gently. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook covered for 30 to 45 minutes. If you have some fresh thyme you could tie it in a bundle and throw it in during this part.
If you’re feeling especially industrious, make this and something else on Sunday and wait and serve this on Monday when it will be even yummier. (Refrigerate it overnight. I forgot one time, though, and I boiled the hell out of it and fed it to my family anyway because I was too lazy to think up another whole dinner and we’re all still here!)