If I was to look at an index of all of the searches that I’ve ever made in Google, August 2013 would probably show one strange result: Making eye contact with a gastroenterologist.
August 2013 was a big month for me. Obviously.
I turned 22. I read 10 books. I went to the beach. I was probed.
Yes, you read that right. Probed.
And few things are more hideously uncomfortable than sitting in a cramped office across from a too-small table with a man who has recently perused the inner sanctums of your butt. Hence the Google search on how to make eye contact with a gastroenterologist.
But, Google failed me. There was no eHow article for this.
And so, I went into my post-probing appointment doubting my ability to interact with a human being ever again, let alone…HIM.
I burst into the office. Everyone looks at me (no one looks at me). I stumble up to his receptionist.
“I have an appointment. My name’s RG.” My words are clipped. I feel breathless.
“Take a seat.” She smiles at me. A warm smile.
She knows. She knows…EVERYTHING.
I shuffle back to the waiting room and slide into my chair, my ears sinking into my shoulders.
Beside me there is a pile of pamphlets about hemorrhoids and other butt maladies. For some reason, this makes the moment even more hideous.
THIS IS THE END, I think, looking around wildly.
I’m certain that everyone shifting uncomfortably in their itchy orange chairs knows that I have joined the elite club of The Recently Probed.
Okay. Seriously. Relax. I mean, how many butts has this man seen? Hundreds…thousands probably! His entire career is butt-based! The man makes his living out of perusing butts. Yours is just another butt on the assembly line.
Enter HIM. Tall, slim, on the uncomfortable side of attractive for a Career Butt Prober.
Him: Hi, RG. You can come with me.
I don’t look at him. I look at the beige wall next to his head. I assume he’s smiling at me, so I attempt something that resembles a baboon aggressively showing its teeth.
After a beat, he turns and strides toward his office. I stand up, adjust my shirt for a longer-than-necessary length of time, and shuffle away from the hemorrhoid pamphlets.
Receptionists line the hall toward his office. I walk past them.
They’re definitely thinking about my butt. They’re watching me and thinking: “Now, what is wrong with that butt?” They probably make bets about the severity of each patient’s butt problems. Monsters!
I have essentially lost my mind by the time I get to his office. He closes the door behind me.
Me: “HI!” I scream in his direction (Still smiling like a baboon, by the way). “HOW ARE YOU?”
Him: “I’m good, thanks. How are you doing?”
Me: “I’M GOOD. HOW ARE YOU?”
The baboon smile disappears. I freeze halfway between sitting and standing.
The most impenetrable, suffocating silence descends upon the room.
That kind of interaction (on par with the classic movie theater exchange — Movie Theater Employee: “Enjoy your movie.” A Poor Soul: “You too!”) is unbearable on a good day. But, this was the Day of the Butt. And so, for one brief moment, I glance out of his 7th story window and wonder if death is the most charitable option for all involved parties.
He clears his throat. “I’m good, thanks.”
My whole being shudders as I file away Another Moment To Be Replayed For The Rest Of Your Days (Including At Random Moments When You’re In The Cereal Aisle Just Trying To Take Care Of Your Breakfast Needs, Goddamnit).
Somehow my legs find the will to function, and I ease into the chair.
“So.” He clicks the end of his pen and thrums his fingers against his long white notepad. “Let’s talk about our options.”
The air is thick with the knowledge that my butt has been seen by 2/2 people in this room. I want to scream this out. Just so it’s out there. Just so it’s in the open. Just so I can breathe again.
But, I don’t.
In the silence in between him and me, I realize that the only way to breathe again is to do the impossible. And so, as he starts to discuss my options, I smooth down my shirt, I cross and uncross my legs, I feel my heartbeat in my fingertips, and then, somehow, I do the only thing that there is to do: I look up.
Our eyes meet. He keeps talking. He doesn’t even falter.
The air is still thick. But the knowledge isn’t suffocating.
I don’t explode. He doesn’t explode. My butt seems unfazed.
Somehow, we all survive.