There are many advantages to growing up with a brother so close in age to myself. In my younger years, I never had to start at a new school alone. With Jake being a year ahead of me, it was a comfort to know he had already broken ground, and could help a sister out with finding my classrooms and even offer up free protection on the school bus. For the most part, he did everything "first," so I could kind of gauge my own outcomes by his intelligent, or idiotic choices. But perhaps one of the greatest parts of having a sibling of the opposite sex is that they have a way of removing any "mystique" surrounding their gender. Thanks to my brother, I was never hesitant to befriend a boy (I actually preferred their company, since adolescent girls tend to be the definition of evil). I wasn't even afraid of letting them know that I had a crush on them. Seriously. I should probably track down the kid named Brad from second grade who I refused to let off of the merry-go-round until he agreed to marry me. Here's hoping I didn't scar him for life. Regardless. If you were an only child, or grew up without a boy living across the hall from you, you likely missed out on learning the one absolute truth regarding guys. Sure, you may have been told this fact by your parents, but you likely wrote it off as them trying to put you off of penises for at least a few more years. But if you had a brother, you knew. You always knew.
Boys are fucking gross.
It starts early, really. I was never a huge fan of babysitting but I certainly landed a few gigs in my day. Any time I had a little boy in my charge I knew that within two hours he would need to show me either his butt or his balls, likely both. They were all so fascinated with their boyjunk, it was inevitable that they assumed an acquaintance wanted to see their nutsack as well. Whether it was a toddler or a teenager, I also noticed the male gender seemed to be oddly proud of their own excrement. The size, the shape, the color, most of all the smell - all facets of their poop seemed to be open for discussion. And while we are on the topic of odor, what is it with guys and trying to find the worst possible smell on Earth to share with their friends? While riding my bike through town a while back, I was forced to stop for two teenage boys standing in the shoulder. It wasn't until I got a little closer that I noticed one had picked up a dead squirrel from the side of the road and was daring his counterpart to smell the roadkill. Maybe it's just that they're used to inhaling their own awful aroma? In actuality, I can still recall the horrific smell of the basement of my childhood home. It wasn't due to mold, or mildew. It was the remnants of all of my brother's friends, their own brand of all-natural cologne permeating everything in the popular hangout spot. If you could bottle it up, rather than an eau de toilette you might as well call it Ode to The Toilet - base notes of a 13-year-old arguing with his mother that he "didn't need a shower," middle notes of Axe body spray and ground-in dirt, with top notes of patchouli incense and asshole.
In the present day, I am living alone for the first time in my life. And I realized that I have always lived with a guy. Whether it was a family member, a boyfriend, or a roommate, I've been surrounded by dudes in my living space for 35 years. So, when I married a few years back, I thought I was well-equipped for all things "male." Turns out I was dead wrong. What is it with men thinking that we just need to accept them in all of their gross glory and never say a word about it? I once attempted to keep track of how often my husband either burped or farted in a 24-hour period, but I gave up when I hit a total of forty-four by early evening. I mean that's an average of roughly 4.4 gas emissions per waking hour, with zero attempts of restraint. I mean no, I'm not that much of a princess that I clutch my pearls over a random belch or anal exhale but, to do it constantly, with no care in the world has a way of turning the tide of your relationship. Perhaps it's because the same men who do this will also want blowjobs. Lots, and lots of blowjobs. Quite frankly my face has no business within twelve inches of a gas leak, so in my opinion you get that under control and then we'll reassess. At one point I did ask, if I started to burp and fart constantly would you still find me irresistibly attractive and want to jump my bones, or would that wear on you over time? He couldn't answer. He was repulsed by the mere thought of a woman doing that. Funny how that works...
Before you label me an uptight prude, I'll let you in on another piece of my history. During one of my long-term relationships, my live-in boyfriend requested my assistance. I'll preface this by saying that we had been together for some time, and the comfort level was certainly there. But. There comes a time in every relationship where you give up quite a bit of control, and comfort becomes unbridled trust. That day came for us when he asked me if I would mind "taking a look at his butthole" because "it hurts and something may be wrong with it." Let me add that I was working in veterinary medicine at the time, and I was pretty used to gross stuff, and maybe possessed a bit more medical knowledge than an average layperson. Granted, I was more adept with the problematic anuses of the canine or feline variety, but this couldn't be all that different, right? So we made our way to the bathroom, while I assured him there was nothing to be embarrassed about. I'd seen many a balloon knot during my workday - in fact we just had a case of rectal prolapse in a Pug the day prior so surely this wasn't going to be that bad. He drops trow, and I tell him to bend over so I can get a good look at his meat doughnut. I inspected the area, cleansed with a cotton ball soaked in diluted antiseptic, and applied some anti-inflammatory cream with a q-tip. We made jokes. We laughed so hard that we cried. A couple days later, his puckered starfish had completely healed (be careful with overusing cheap wet wipes - you'll rub your skin raw). And, our relationship was in even better condition than before the booty inspection.
I recall an episode of Sex and The City where Charlotte is adjusting to sharing a home with her new husband, Harry. He's a great guy - funny, smart, successful, and loves her beyond words. He also tends to sit on her white couch with no pants on. Since a man's undercarriage on an ivory Pottery Barn chaise rightfully grosses her out, she realizes she has to call him out on the ass/furniture situation. He is ashamed that he disappointed her, but she reassures him that "this is our home now, and I want you to be yourself." In another episode, the couple goes to a fancy restaurant, and return home to continue the romantic evening in the bedroom. Food poisoning sets in, and the two end up sharing in the unpleasant experience of explosive diarrhea. The scene ends with the two of them lying on the bathroom floor together, holding hands. I suppose this is my ideal relationship situation. I love the though of two people wanting to be the best for themselves and each other, and doing what they can to keep a healthy physical attraction between the two of them - while growing closer together through those occasional uncomfortable scenarios that require a new level of love and trust. Personally, I love when a guy takes care of himself, and wants to impress me just as much as he would a stranger at the bar during his single days. But I also love a guy who trusts me enough that he can be comfortable and authentic. If sometimes that equates to me checking out his b-hole while squatting on the bathroom floor, so be it.