farting around with agents mulder and scully

Es­ti­mated reading time is 3 min­utes.

FARTING AROUND with agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully is some­thing that mil­lions of us would enjoy. That said, I want to call at­ten­tion to words ex­changed in a con­ver­sa­tion be­tween with those and former agent Dales in The X-Files episode ti­tled “Agua Mala.” Arthur Dales was the orig­inal person in charge of the FBI’s X-Files and is now re­tired and living in Florida.

His call brought the other two down to Florida during a hur­ri­cane. He is ex­plaining the mys­te­rious dis­ap­pear­ance of a neigh­boring family during the storm:

Scully: “Look, Mr Dales, I’m sure that there is good reason for your alarm. I lis­tened to the mes­sage that you left for Agent Mulder about your friends.”

Dales: “The Shipleys—a young couple, with a son. Yeah, he lives out on the end of the sand-spit. Sara called me in a panic. She said that some­thing in the house had grabbed Jack, her husband.”

Scully: “In the bath­room, you said?”

Dales: “Yeah, of all places.”

Mulder: “It was your de­scrip­tion that caused Agent Scul­ly’s dubiousness.”

Dales: “No—not my de­scrip­tion. No—that was Sara’s. She said that it had ten­ta­cles, wrapped around her hus­band’s neck and choking him.”

Scully: “And you have no reason to doubt Ms Ship­ley’s report?”

Dales: “No. Both she and Jack are ma­rine bi­ol­o­gists. Or at least they were. I fear the worst.”

Mulder: “She’s missing, too?”

Dales: “Uh-huh. Yeah. I got on the horn to the local con­stab­u­lary but they’re about as helpful as a fart in a wind­storm. I would have gone out there my­self but for my bad hip.”

Mulder: “It’s not a night that any­body should be out in.”

Dales: “Well, I don’t see that there’s a choice. If anyone wants to get to the bottom of all this . . .”

Scully: “What is it that brought you out here in the first place, Mr Dales?”

Dales: “I came down for the weather. Don’t sneer at the mys­teries of the deep, young lady. The bottom of the ocean is as deep and dark as the imagination.”

What sur­prised me was the use of the word fart. I had never heard it on a tele­vi­sion show before!

Granted, I haven’t ac­tively watched tele­vi­sion shows in more than forty years, and this episode was first broad­cast in early 1999, so I may have missed some­thing along the way.

But for me this was a first: fart was now a part of Amer­ican tele­vi­sion’s words-that-can-be-used-with-impunity!

Of course, it wasn’t the oh-so-reticent Fox Mulder or the protocol-conscious Dana Scully that added fart to the se­ries’ nomenclature!


It was the over-the-hill Arthur Dales, whose age and way with a bottle had made him take a devil-may-care at­ti­tude to­ward au­thority and pro­priety (you rascal, you).

My im­me­diate re­sponse was that they should have signed actor Darren Mc­Gavin to do a pilot for a spin-off show ten­ta­tively ti­tled “The F-Files,” just about Fox and Mulder farting around on their days off.

But then, an ado­les­cent re­sponse to the breaking of wind is a hall­mark of the Umphred siblings—of which I re­main the el­dest. Even time hasn’t changed that.

I am blessed with a brother (Charles to me and Charlie to every­body else, in­cluding you) and a sister (Mary Alice) Way way back when the three of us were knee-high to a grasshopper, our ma­ternal grand­mother lived with us. 1

As she was the first re­ally “old person” that we came to know in­ti­mately, we did, in fact, come to know her in­ti­mately. In­cluding her door-rattling farts in the bathroom.

We had never heard any­thing like it! We thought them uniquely hers! Ho ho ho, little did we know what time and aging would do to our own bowels.

When con­fronted about the ex­plo­sions when she was in the bath­room, she would just wave a hand and lay on the wisdom of the aged and re­cite in an al­most sing-song manner this dictum: “Where’re ye be, let your wind fly free.”

Sounds vaguely Irish . . .

Photo of Agents Mulder and Scully, who are definitely not farting around.

PS: My orig­inal title for this piece was “the first fart is the fun­niest” in tribute to the Cat Stevens song, The First Cut Is The Deepest. But I didn’t think that even the most diehard oldies fan would get the ref­er­ence, so I changed it to the title you see above.



1   I am un­cer­tain of the dates but it was def­i­nitely after Mr. Peabody had in­vented the Way­back Machine.


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