On Buttholes

I have never seen my own asshole. Is that strange? Considering the time I’ve spent scrutinizing other parts of my body — like the space in between my eyebrows, for example, where I spend an inordinate amount of time meticulously plucking stray hairs — I have never devoted much, if any, attention to my asshole.

Perhaps I’ve never looked at my asshole because no one has ever told me to. I remember finding a girl’s guide to puberty when I was a preteen. It was a thick, illustrated volume tucked between the stacks of colorful cookbooks on my parents’ shelf. When I flipped through, the pages were full of advice and body-loving encouragement. One section told me to look at myself, to scrutinize my genitalia. Feel free to put a hand mirror between your legs, the book said. Take a look at your self! Don’t be afraid! This is you! And you are you and you are beautiful! But it never told me to look at my asshole.

I’ve heard that some people bleach their assholes. It’s become a common procedure for celebrities. Salons and spas begin the bleaching process with a wax. Imagine that, for a moment: hot wax caressing the outsides of the delicate, paper-like skin surrounding your anus—and then, depending on the expertise of your beautician, fiery release. A stinging sensation. A fresh patch of baldness. Your asshole is now as smooth and hairless as the pristine skin of an infant.

To bleach, the beautician will rub acid around your freshly waxed anus. The entire process lasts about 20 minutes and generally costs around $100. It’s a risky-enough procedure to have been outlawed in the UK and France due to the use of the questionable chemicals involved. In this context, it seems silly to devote so much time and money to perfecting the asshole. Who really cares if her asshole is a shade or two darker than the rest of her skin? Would I feel any more comfortable about someone seeing my asshole if it were waxed and bleached? If I really wanted to establish some truth between myself and another person, shouldn’t I leave my asshole as is — however dark and hairy that may be? Wouldn’t that be a more honest display?

The last time I was intimate with someone, I’m pretty sure he saw my asshole. From his angle, I’m unsure of what was visible, but it’s a safe bet that my asshole probably was. Reflecting upon the nature of this sexual encounter — which was decidedly not intimate in the sense of a relationship — I find it ironic that this man saw my asshole. What is a more intimate sight than that? It is strange to think that someone with whom I was never emotionally close may now possesses a mental image—and perhaps a strikingly clear one at that—of a part of my body I have never even seen myself.

I don’t recall seeing his asshole, either. In fact, I’ve never seen anyone else’s asshole. I have a flimsy, vague idea of what assholes actually look like. During my last relationship, I remember being fascinated by certain parts of my partner’s body, like the slight dent in his chest that made a squeaky noise when I rubbed my hand against it, or the small, forgotten patch of oily skin between his sideburns and his ears. I’d never felt compelled to see his asshole; I’d never asked to see it.

When we consider intimacy and all it implies, we attach a sort of mysticism to it. We elevate the word “intimacy” to become a concept beyond pure definition. When I think of intimacy, an image immediately surfaces: I see a softly lit bedroom and two people lying side by side, looking into one another’s eyes and seeing something deeper. For a moment, each person understands something true and profound about his companion. In this way, I paint an unforgivably idealistic portrait.

Because intimacy can also be found in moments devoid of grace or comfort: a mother who eats the partially masticated chunks of food from her child’s plate, or a camp counselor who walks into the locker room to encounter one of his thirteen-year-old campers changing clothes. Intimacy can be forced or foisted upon another person, by deliberate will or pure chance, and can produce feelings of ease, belonging, anxiety, betrayal.

The only people who have really seen my asshole — seen it up close — are my parents. When I was an infant, they must have wiped it tens of thousands of times. They spent an admirable amount of time devoted to its cleanliness and regular upkeep, responsibly protecting me from the discomfort of diaper rash. Does this then confer upon them a special knowledge of me? People always say familial relationships thrive on an unspoken bond. You can abuse your parents with hateful words and an uncensored ingratitude for all they have done for you, but none of this means anything; they will forgive you. And perhaps it is because they have seen your asshole: they have seen everything, every part of you. They understand more about you than you will ever know yourself. They are still just humans — they are no better than you — but, assuming they were the ones to change your diapers, they have accessed a plateau of intimacy you may never attain with your lover.

There seems to me more grace and empathy in the simple gestures a nurse performs for the wellbeing of a patient than in any banal bedroom scene of lovemaking. Attaching and detaching the catheter with care, emptying and wash basins and scrubbing them clean, gently sponging a body afflicted by some untenable, relentless virus.

But perhaps I simply have not found the right asshole. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – juanktru

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