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It was interesting to learn the English language (any language would be) is spoken or heard differently by the person in the following sentence of Tina Fey’s “Bossypants,” describing the scene in which Tina Fey met Sylvester Stallone for the first time in the rehearsal, and ventured to ask him to enunciate his speech more in a Saturday Night Live show:

“He looked at me. I muttered, “In the Rita sketch, you were a little hard to understand. Can you just enunciate a little more?” Stallone was unfazed. “Youcannunnastanme? Youneeme nanaunciate maw? Okey.” He couldn’t have been more easygoing about it. I went back outside and manually released my butt cheeks.” – ibid Page122

However, I don’t understand what the ending phrase means. I know “butt cheeks.” But what does “manually release one’s butt cheeks” insinuate?

As a non-native English speaker, I cannot judge whether this is a normal, creative, or vulgar expression. Is this a passable expression to describe an action to release oneself from mental pressure, or just the author’s idiosyncratic phrasing?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 14 down vote accepted

As you surmise, when entering a possibly confrontational situation, it's not unusual to transfer some of the psychic tension to your, um, pelvic core -- to clench your butt cheeks. When the mental tension eases, you might unclench. That's what's being described here, not farting as suggested by another comment.

It's not literally true that she "manually" released the tension. She's a comedy writer, that part is for effect.

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That answer is funny. I have never heard of anyone clenching their ass outside or working out or sex. urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=manual%20release –  RyeɃreḁd May 3 at 22:35
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I remember that I learned from a well-known yoga teacher (中村天風 - Nakamura Tenpu by name) long time ago that a daily practice to consciously clench our anal (as against releasing butt cheeks) is good for keeping the composure and the balance of mind status. He called it “Kumbahha” in yoga terminology (I’m not sure how to spell,) though, I’m not sure now whether it really works . –  Yoichi Oishi May 4 at 1:59
    
I like this answer. My thought is related. It strikes me that she was referencing that she was being a little "anal retentive" and his response wound that up more requiring more effort to stay calm on her part. She is hilarious, but if explanation is required, it is slightly less humorous. –  Mike May 4 at 15:14

Released butt cheeks = he farted.

You can see that a manual release is a special technique and stepping outside is hopefully to spare others of the smell.

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I think you've overlooked the context here...but I can at least appreciate that you pulled this alternate interpretation out of Urban Dictionary, and not somewhere else. –  Nick Stauner May 4 at 0:36

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