Sven Skäraosten, sometimes called Ren-Sven, sometimes simply Ren or Renny, occasionally Rennet, but rarely Sven, was a Swede. His family sailed from the old country generations ago and first settled near Astoria, Oregon at the mouth of the Columbia River years before Lewis and Clark set out to discover a western passage. The Skäraosten’s sea journey had been a long one and in order to survive the arduous voyage his family brought along several farm animals—mainly cows—aboard their ship. The bovines were kept in a special hold in the belly of the vessel and, as you might imagine, the enclosed pen could become quite aromatic. But I digress.
To make a long story shorter Ren’s ancestors were cheesemakers. They were of European descent and, therefore, prone to lactose intolerance which is rather ironic when you think about it considering their trade. Ren, too, practiced the culturing craft; eighth generation at that. A few generations back his family moved from Astoria down to the Tillamook area (which is known as Oregon’s cheese capitol) to work for (you guessed it) the cheese factory. There he was in charge of the application of rennet (thus his nickname) into the culturing process.
For those who may not know, rennet is a curdling enzyme originally found in the stomachs of young dairy animals. In the olden days, a piece cut from the stomach lining was added to milk; today it is commercially manufactured.
Now here’s the deal: Ren absolutely loved cheese. Not just making it, but eating it. Which was the problem, you see. Being lactose intolerant, it gave him gas and gas made him flatulent. Give him a mere bite of cheese and he could toot his trousers for half the afternoon. The only thing that affected him more than cheese was ice cream, and if cheese was a weakness then ice cream was his kryptonite. Ren practically worshipped ice cream.
As you might imagine, if you’ve ever been to Tillamook, steering clear of cheese and ice cream could be a serious challenge—especially if you work at the Tillamook Cheese Factory. But, since these foods caused some major gastric disturbances in Ren—especially if he consumed larger quantities—he generally ate them only in small amounts, on special occasions, and rarely in public to avoid blowing people over with his super-charged cheek cheesers.
Still, after a long shift working with cheese, the texture, aroma, and sight of it was more than tempting and Ren would, more often than not, take home a small sampling of end cuts at the end of the day. In addition, he was known to grab an ice cream cone from the factory outlet’s in-house parlor on the way out the door. Which was, by the way, the reason why no-one would carpool with him, if you get my drift. If you don’t, well, let’s say that if you rode with him you’d get his drift. It didn’t take much—only a few good licks—before his tummy would rumble and the pressure would build and he’d let out some insane methane.
By the time he’d consumed a cone and started in on the chunks of cheese, the car’s interior smelled a lot like the dairy air (of a cow’s derriere) outside—only a hundred times more concentrated. Ren didn’t mind, he was used to it (and partially deaf) so, when alone, he just let ‘em rip. Again, this is why he had few friends and no carpool mates.
Talk about cutting the cheese—it was Ren’s gift. And it was this gift that kept him in a state of perpetual bachelorhood to boot. This fact alone concerned Ren. He could certainly fend for himself, but he longed for the companionship of a woman, and at nearly forty years of age, the prospect wasn’t looking good for him. And that caused him to worry about it and worry drove him to his only solace: ice cream (which, as you may imagine, created a vicious cycle).
But life went on day in and day out. Though he sometimes felt lonely and unchallenged in his work he was by no means depressed. Life was what you made it after all and Ren was generally happy, but not overly exuberant on the outside. That happened inside, especially when he ate cheese and ice cream.
Well, as it happened, one particularly worrisome day, Ren was on his lunch break at work and just couldn’t resist the ice cream case. A new flavor, Malted Moo, had been added and he got to thinking, “Why not?” It began with a single scoop, but “lordy-mama!” it was so good he ordered up a second dish—a triple scooper—and his gut was soon churning around like butter being made by a Quaker on caffeine. But it was a sunny day so Ren was outside where he thought he could relieve the pressure as he saw fit. Except that there were an inordinate number of tourists visiting the factory that day and he had to hold the noxious fumes within. Which wasn’t pleasant…for Ren; for everyone else it was, for the time being, quite good (believe me).
The force continued to mount and this began to worry him all the more which caused him to crave even more ice cream. All the while his bowels were flipping around like the entire entourage from Cirque du Soleil and his abdomen swelled all the more. He was growing quite uncomfortable, so he quickly ran into the factory—not as you might expect to use the restroom (for the last time this happened he blew the pipes loose from the plumbing system)—but to excuse himself for the rest of the day.
After a hasty meeting with his boss and receiving permission for the remainder of the day off, he bought the entire tub of the new ice cream flavor and dashed to his car where he immediately removed a bottle of Lactaid ® capsules from his glove compartment and swallowed a handful of the digestive aid. He put the key into the ignition, gave it a turn, put the car into gear and tore out of the parking lot heading north on Hwy 101 toward home at Twin Rocks in Rockaway Beach, small seat steamers seeping with sizeable, squeaking hisses from his nether-end.
The Lactaid ® did give him some temporary relief, but he was worried the rumbly tumbly might return and he was now out of the supplement—which made him worry all the more, so he dipped into the melting, industrial-sized tub of ice cream as he drove up the highway. Twenty minutes later he turned toward Twin Rocks and drove down to the edge of the seashore, parked his car, wrapped his arm around the container of still semi-frozen goodness and walked to the beach where he sat down on his favorite pondering log. He began to eat. Ice cream.
Soon he was lost in the comfort of it all, blissfully consuming spoonful after spoonful of the dairy delight. His gastronomical system quaked with epic proportions; his growling gut seemed to move the very ground itself (so he thought). Only the ocean roared above the growing protests of his digestive tract and, being (as I mentioned earlier) somewhat deaf, he heard neither his stomach nor the sounding of the tsunami alarm that wailed from the city center to the north and across 101.
Less than fifteen minutes later he was nearly through eating the entire two and a half gallon tub of Malted Moo and, quite bloated, gazing out over the ocean, where he saw the approach of the giant wave. He panicked, jumped to his feet, turned to run to his car and then IT happened.
Ren, now on his feet and moving quickly away from the shoreline, suddenly let loose with the fattest, foulest, unfathomably fuming fanny frog he’d ever released. You’ve read about the Mount St. Helens eruption that wiped out miles of forests like a nuclear explosion? That was nothing. Ren’s booty blast created such a back draft that it could be heard all the way to Portland even though the audacious air biscuit was aimed out over the ocean. Perhaps it was even faintly heard in Japan.
But it wasn’t the mere anal audio of the heinie-honker that was special—nor was it the savory scent of the seam-splitter—it was the breaking wind it produced. Such was the resonate concussion of the thunder from down under that the detonatous discharge slammed against the wall of water and sent it back out to sea from whence it came.
And that, my friends, is the story of the day that Renny Skäraosten saved the north coast, for surely the tsunami, they say, would have devastated all the seaside cities of Oregon. To this day Ren, or Rippin’ Renny as he is now known, is a world-renown legend. All the ladies love him, the men buy him drinks, and he always has a large tub of his favorite Tillamook ice cream on hand, just in case.