#MindOfMarlar is written by Darren Marlar, host of Weird Darkness

Nowadays, if you give someone an insincere compliment, we would say that you’re “blowing smoke up their butt.” Some of you might use more colorful language than that, but you people are naughty.

The phrase, “blowing smoke up your butt”, as ridiculous as it sounds to us, is a holdover from the 18th century when it had a literal meaning. And when I mean it had a literal meaning, I mean that… literally.

“(Ahem.) Ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to sell you on the greatest medical advancement of the 1700s… guaranteed to heal all kinds of maladies, even bring the dead back to life! Step right up and get your tobacco enema!” (Cue circus music!)

Back in the 18th century doctors actually believed that blowing smoke up someone’s… uh…”backside”… could revive them from near death! It’ll be interesting to see how many words and phrases I can use to describe that particular part of the human anatomy. That’ll make this more entertaining – at least for me; and I’m the one writing this.

Way back when George Washington was not lying about chopping down cherry trees and Mozart was farting in front of female audience members, doctors of the time thought the practice of blowing smoke up one’s sphincter could help people recover from drowning or other near-fatal accidents.

Pipe work through other end too…

Now how in the name of all that is butt-holy did someone think this up? Well, Europeans learned about tobacco enemas from Native American tribes who used tobacco as medicine for various ailments. Wouldn’t you love to have been there for that demonstration? An English botanist named Nicholas Culpeper picked up on the idea and passed it on to other physicians in Europe – while Native Americans undoubtedly snickered all the way back to their teepees knowing they’d just pulled off the most epic April Fool’s Day joke of all time.

I don’t know if Culpeper experimented on medical students to test this idea out or not, but somehow the idea became so popular that one guy in England reportedly believed it hook, line, and stinker – and revived his unconscious wife using this method after she nearly drowned. He puffed smoke into her rumpus using a pipe, and somehow, she woke up! I’m assuming he used the end of the pipe that wasn’t lit (although the hot end would probably give you quite a jump start too, now that I think about it). From that moment on, people claimed this method worked so well that even doctors bought into it – and equipment like pipes and nozzles for blowing smoke was even hung near rivers and lakes for easy access if you needed to access somebody’s assets to assist them. That original pipe that saved the woman’s life is probably in a museum somewhere – because let’s face it, you are not puffing from that thing ever again.

You want to stick WHAT up my WHERE?

Nowadays we know smoking is harmful, but doctors back then thought they’d found a miracle cure. Then again, the only studies I’ve seen from science are about how tobacco can cause cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. That’s mostly above the waist. Sounds like we are way past due to have an in-depth study on stuffing a tube up our rear and lighting up a pack of Kools (because you prefer menthol). I’m not volunteering for this though – I’m the idea man. Plus, I’m still avoiding getting a colonoscopy; I’m not about to volunteer for someone to play around up there for “experimental” purposes.

For that ‘kick in the butt’ to get your going in the morning!

Now here’s something that might blow your mind (pun intended). Maybe those old-timey doctors weren’t entirely off-base. They thought that blasting tobacco smoke up someone’s butt-cheeks could revive them by increasing their heart rate with a jolt of nicotine. Like Red Bull for your Rump! Or coffee for your caboose! (Coffee enemas are a real thing, by the way – but I’ll save that for another time.)

Along with kickstarting your heart rate, it was also believed that the inserted tobacco smoke would help the victim breathe better. Boy – medical education has come a long way, hasn’t it? Physicians in the 1700s hadn’t discovered yet which end of the body we do our breathing from? That’s scary. It’s a good thing they weren’t teaching CPR back then – mouth-to-mouth would be replaced with… what…? Lips to hips? Lungs to buns? (I should get into advertising.)

Even if tobacco enemas worked, there was still a problem – not for the victim, but for the one doing the puffing. It put the person way too close to the derriere – placing them in the “danger zone” not just for the smell, but also for catching cholera and other infections. No amount of Listerine is gonna wash that tasteful memory away.

Still, these doctors kept on puffing.

A.I. brings us a fireman wrapping an air hose around a toad. Nailed it!

The tobacco enema was so popular that a whole institution was founded in 1774 called “The Institution For Affording Immediate Relief To Persons Apparently Dead From Drowning.” Or T-I-F-A-I-R-T-O-A-D-F-D for short. Or even shorter… “TIE AIR TOAD F.D.”, which made absolutely no sense. How do you tie air to toads – and what does the fire department got to do with it? Way too confusing. Later they renamed it the Royal Humane Society, which isn’t nearly as easy to make fun of.

About the same time they changed the name of the society – doctors changed their mind about where to stick your tobacco. They finally decided that blowing smoke up your bum is not a good idea. And nobody was butt-hurt about that decision.

Of course, over time, as the medical practice was discredited and seen as ridiculous, the phrase “blowing smoke up his butt” took on a humorous and sarcastic tone. It began to imply that someone was receiving compliments that were as ridiculous or unfounded as the old “Patootie Puff Procedure” itself. (Seriously, I need to get into advertising, I’m on a roll today.) Anyway, this led to its modern usage of the phrase, where “blowing smoke up his butt” means giving exaggerated or fake praise to that person… which, ironically, can also leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Oh, another one… “The Wheeze Squeeze Method!” Okay, I’ll stop now.


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