Every time I pull out a long strand of hair (as in, from my head) that's somehow gotten wedged in between my butt cheeks, I think about my boyfriend.
"So I was in this subreddit," he began a few months ago. From past conversations that started this way, I could foresee where this was going: He'd tell me some anecdote from a fellow Redditor about masturbation, prison, or incest fantasies. I'd roll my eyes a lot, and tell him OK, cool, that's interesting -- but I'm not a white man in my 30s and I still don't get Reddit.
He continued, "and it was about things only women would know. Is it true that women get hair stuck in their butts when you shower? And that when you pull it out, it feels kind of good?"
I looked at him, wide eyed, too stunned to speak. "Oh, my GOD," I finally said, burying my face into my hands. I laughed uncomfortably.
"What?" he asked, smiling.
"I can't believe you just asked me that!"
"Well, do you?"
"Yes," I said hesitantly. "But you're not supposed to -- I don't know -- know that?"
So much for maintaining any sort of mystery. It's not like I expected to always pass as a glamour puss in front of my dude à la Dita Von Teese. Still, I didn't really dig that my man discovered the elusive secret of stray hair trapped between butt cheeks, known amongst women (and guys with long hair, I assume, although I've never thought to ask).
Even after I probed him for the other private lady things this subreddit revealed, like awful period poos, the hair-in-the-butt revelation irked me the most. I went home and told my roommate, "HE KNOWS." She gasped loudly, and then we both laugh-cried.
(Digressing here to add that strangely enough, THIS was what got me to stop hating on Reddit. Although it has its creeps, the site's AMA series and threads covering mental health issues are super fascinating. I've also learned it can be an invaluable resource for people in the transgender community, which is pretty dope. So go forth, users of Reddit! I get it now.)
I think what really got to me about the whole hair-in-butt debacle was the realization that someone was completely unaware of a grooming ritual, of sorts, that's just part of my normal life.
And ever since I started living with dude a couple months ago, lots of the other things I do to get "clean" and "pretty" are starting to seem stranger, like excerpts from an updated version of "Body Ritual among the Nacirema." Here are some of them:
1. SPITTING ON Q-TIPS TO FIX EYELINER
How do I get my liquid eyeliner so perfectly perfect, you may ask? My answer: Lots of Q-tips!
My more truthful answer: Lots of Q-tips that I lick, and then use to clean up my always-messy liner, evidenced in the pile of spit-covered cotton swabs sitting next to the sink when I get ready.
Someone else MUST do this -- right? (RIGHT?)
Eye makeup remover-filled cotton swabs are the awesome, saliva-free alternative to my weird beauty habit. They stow like Q-tips, and work much better: Just snap one end of the swab when you're ready to use, and the makeup remover will saturate the other end.
These fancy guys are definitely pricier than plain ol' cotton swabs. Get a pack for traveling, or an event, or when you've licked like, 50 cotton swabs and are ready to stab yourself in the eye with one.
Why not just use eye makeup remover and a regular cotton swab, you may also ask? I have no idea. But I've never tried it.
2. PICKING AT INGROWN HAIRS WITH TWEEZERS
I once saw a PostSecret (remember those?) that said, "I used to cut myself. Now I just pull out my pubic hair." Too. Close. To. Home.
Now when I'm digging at my skin with my gnarly tweezers, I feel the tinge of guilt associated with self-mutilation -- but it somehow seems appropriate, as I'm getting rid of those pus-filled ingrown hairs. DISGUSTING.
Alas, you're susceptible to sick scabs and infections when you stab your precious skin with dirty tweezers. To sterilize, scrub them with a clean toothbrush or nail brush and mild dish soap and hot water to remove dirt, makeup, and hair. Then stick them in a cup of rubbing alcohol.
Exfoliate the area of the ingrown hair with a gentle scrub (I use Jason's Apricot Scrubble, $28.50 for a pack of 4, amazon.com) and rinse with warm water. Press a soaked warm-to-hot hand towel over it for 3 minutes to open up the pores. Lightly pat to dry with a paper towel.
Wash your hands with soap and water and dry with paper towels before getting your alcohol-soaked tweezers to JAB into your skin. Dab Neosporin over the picked hair follicle when you're done.
3. EXFOLIATING WITH AN OILY PRODUCT IN THE SHOWER EVEN THOUGH THERE IS A RISK OF A SLIPPERY DEATH
Slipping in the shower is terrifying.
4. NEVER HAVING ANYTHING TO WEAR
Since not living with another person who echoes my constant frustration of hating all the clothes she's spent hundreds of dollars on, I've realized saying, "I don't know what to wear!" in a whiny, child voice is a dumb part of my getting ready process. Since someone (ahem, Man) pointed it out, I'm trying to not say it anymore. It hurts.
5. SITTING STILL AND WANTING TO DIE OR PEE OR DO ANYTHING BESIDES SITTING STILL WHILST WAITING FOR ONE'S NAILS TO DRY
Why doesn't that nail polish contraption in "The Fifth Element" exist yet? Sitting still with wet nails in the cruelest torture. If you don't have a good fast drying top coat (Seche Vite is the BEST), give up.
6. SPENDING MONEY ON CELLULITE PRODUCTS THAT DON'T DO ANYTHING
I honestly think I'm more embarrassed of the money I've spent on smelly lotions to get rid of my cellulite than I am of my actual cellulite. (LOL, I'm not going to NOT buy them, though.)
7. SPREADING YOUR CHEEKS APART DURING A BRAZILIAN WAX -- AND BRAZILIAN WAXES, IN GENERAL
I went through the whole, "Am I a horrible FEMINIST?" the first few times I got a Brazilian wax. Other than the hair removal factor, I discovered I had insanely sensitive skin, and had to sit on an ice pack with puffed-up labia afterwards. Neat.
I'll only go for hard waxes now (with the occasional bit of soft wax to get the finest hairs). It's so much less painful and you're not ripping off your first layer of skin, like soft waxing. I also use Burt's Bees Baby Oil after to soothe freshly waxed skin.
Still, the part where you spread butt cheeks so they can wax your butt hole: Never getting used to that, no.
This whole thing hurt to write. WHY DO WE DO THESE THINGS TO OURSELVES? Off to stab at my imperfect hair follicles!
Share the odd -- and maybe gross -- stuff you do to get pretty. Let's get weird!
I overshare on Twitter: @caitlinthornton.