When I was in Junior High, before knowing what anal sex was, my father—with a kind of grim loyalty in whose utter silence one might find acceptance—inserted a rectal suppository into the what I can only imagine to be the very tight and inviolate anus of my mother, who had been suffering from chronic constipation for some time. Besides their quarterly copulations a year, in night’s embarrassed secret, this was the only other time my parents abashedly closed the bedroom door. I was browsing different worlds to conquer in Super Mario Bros. 3 when I heard the screams.
When kindred wails, it is our evolutionary impulse to go nearer, as if to choose between saving them, or getting a better view of their demise by which to commemorate them. My father here was not the predator, nor my mom the prey. Only in lovemaking’s tangled violence do hands grasp devoid of politics, where love and pain are equal. Constipation here was the villain, the modern worry of past meals molded into a timid lump, and the hero was the pharmaceutical device: one torpedo-shaped tablet of Glycerol, a sugary viscous compound commonly used as a laxative.
Like all children, I thought my father was hurting my mother the first time I heard them have sex. It’s said that females exaggerate noises during sex in order to attract competitor males, for the strongest sperm cell in a gang bang’s worth of splooge will ultimately fight its way into the most deserving heir. Love in the time of statistics. If this seems deeply cynical, welcome to my life.
My mother, supine and splayed on the very mattress I watched afternoon sitcoms on, metaphorically called out for other men, a group in which I included myself, which was far less Oedipal than strictly codependent. Where my father lacked in care and affection, I supplemented. When he didn’t come home, I was there; when he came home drunk, I was there. “I’m here,” I text, or say over the phone, whenever I feel any kind of hurt, like a ghost limb, from any woman. It’s like I never left.
Freud believed that you got stuck at the psychosexual stage—be it oral, anal, or phallic—during which something traumatic happened, and that a fully emotionally developed adult will pass through latency, into the genital stage, and nicely stay there. Our subversive preoccupations are treasure maps to misplaced suffering, the gold chest of buried sins.
Anal porn can be frightening, the camera so near, our frenzied subject so agape that a colonoscopy seems inevitable. To conquer someone is to be inside them, deeply, as if this person were some slab of red meat inside whom we recoil, in regress, in utero. Porn addiction says less about what we want than what we were denied, the shadows on Plato’s cave so convincing. I look into each anus as if it were an eye, curious about the person inside, or around it. Alone in my room, I can feel the metronome of a tired heart in my palm.
My father had a way of spitting offered love back into your face, like emotional bukkake, then resenting you for turning the cheek. My mother eventually moved into another bedroom, and the screaming and fighting stopped. A jar of prunes tucked away in the pantry, she’s been “regular” ever since, and dumped her brief stint with severe constipation some kind of fluke. My father, to his unexpected credit, never mentioned the insertion, nor ever considered his deft, detached care as “points” in the constant bargaining of their relationship.
In some violation of what may be their most intimate moment, my ear cartilage flattened against the door, I took in each sound—each feminine grunt, imagining my mother on all fours like some terrified boar—as some hint into what chronic love amounted to: the acceptance of the barn animal you live with. Lest you think this is a confession to them, please do not fret. They are not fans of my work.
I’ve always been just happy to get a hand job, but do look fondly to when I once unwittingly sodomized a consenting adult, who had in fact guided my slippery and blind erection into her dark pooper. It felt tighter, and in my delusion I imagined that my penis had somehow grown in proportion to my sadness. After grimacing between her shoulder blades, I rolled off her and sighed in short-lived contentment. “You just had anal,” she said. “Oh, that did feel different,” I said. We light-talked until the syllables ran out, not quite cuddling. She was so mean to me, but still I wanted to be near. I looked up at the cracks and stains of her ceiling, which, like some apology, seemed to offer a map to a better world.