About a month ago, at the stoic age of thirty-six, my virgin anus was penetrated by a black woman whose name I did not manage to catch. I was on morphine, and it may have slipped my mind upon her brief introduction. I mention black only because she was — though the racial dissonance of an African-American woman sodomizing an Asian-Canadian man seems sociologically provocative, like some “balance of power” had been not-so-delicately negotiated.
The sodomy was clinical in nature, and thus concede to using the word with liberty. She worked in the ER of the hospital at which I appeared with two broken ribs and a torn spleen. Perhaps she was at the end of a long shift, adrenaline slowly depleted from her seared nerves. Evidently, this is how hospitals check for internal bleeding while a patient is in line for the more sophisticated CT scan.
Could she have been more patient as she jammed her finger in my anus, whose absence of lube caused me to yelp like a baby bear? The answer would be yes. Am I angry at her? No. Empathy is a game of privilege. This woman was simply tired, and likely underpaid. The last thing she needed to see was my boney butt and shy anus, that dark pouty hole whose flatulent calls are muted by a jungle of ass hair.
“URGHH,” I urghh’d. She went to the cabinet for some lube. This seemed to take forever. I thought about gay men, and women, and the unfortunately raped, and how I was about to share this anthropologically “unnatural” experience with them. Eroticism is entirely mental, and I have no problem with anyone who enjoys being done in the ass. From a male heterosexual perspective — as someone who has sodomized others, and enjoyed it — it would be hypocritical to judge any subordinate’s complicity in sodomy. But for the records, the experience was awful. Imagine a paper towel being slowly ripped in half, and that each fiber is a nerve ending. In your butt.
I am not a fan of caps, but anything short here seems placatory. “AARGGH- EEO-EW-OH-RGGH-Z,” I grunted, looking straight into her eyes, a newly formed tear surfing my lower eyelid. Should the reader ask themselves how I could look into the eyes of a woman clearly preoccupied behind me, let me clarify by introducing my mother. I was riding my bike to meet my parents for lunch; en route, I crashed, hence my mother’s auspicious hand-holding in the ER. (My dad, I think, got bored and went out looking for cashews or trail mix.)
They say a mother will always feel the pain of their child tenfold, not just symbolically, but neurologically, the transfer of hurt embedded like some ghost limb. My mom sits next to my bed. She looks at me and I look at her, in that rare moment you get to stare deeply into another human being without feeling creepy or embarrassed. We get lost in some inward vortex of understanding: a final and utter acceptance of ourselves, and our failures towards each other.
She holds in her small hands her grown son’s larger ones — his anus fully, deeply, penetrated by an emotionless stranger — and quietly says “it’s okay,” a phrase imbued with a kind of humble existential beauty that awkward afternoon. The stranger sighed, left the room, and we never saw her again. Alone, my mother and I look at each other. It’s okay, we forgive. Her eyes become wet as I bear one single tear, a kind of lube, to soften this world.