Sometimes I think about what a real author is doing right now. Are they sitting on a roof in the rain, distractedly looking into the distance and coldly scribing life’s great mysteries? Are they beset by grief, so tortured by their tragic past that the only thing that can haul them from their dark mire is making sure the world knows who they were so nobody ever ends up like them again? Are they sitting on a pile of James Patterson or JK Rowling money and firing up the ol’ Twitter account to see if they pull themselves back to relevance?
I don’t know. I am not a real author. I will write about my butt hurting instead.
Like the good authors would do, I’ll start by setting the scene. Picture me, only you don’t know what I look like, so picture a frowning russet potato. Around the potato is an office, only it looks more like a closet as there is only one small light, no windows, discolored white paint, ambiguous floor stains, and a person lying on the floor. That person is your potato, me. The potato has not yet stood up. Is it the weight of the world that holds them on the floor? Is it responsibility, work, fear, an overwhelming sense of their own ambition that leaves them paralyzed by the inevitability of their own gleeful over-encumbrance?
No, their butt hurts, and the chair does not have a cushion. They stand anyway, and anyone observing might feel the tingle of vicarious accomplishment, so great is the effort and perseverance demonstrated in our now-vertical protagonist. They look to the chair. There is a rift, a great burning rent in the earth between the chair and the butt that is destined to fill it. Our heroic spud leaps the chasm, casts caution to the fearless wind, and sits down.
And though the pain is deep and the chair ordered from a catalog that is also sent to low-budget for-profit prisons, there is a smile, a kind of struggling grin that starts in the corners of their mouth and spreads like a stain.
My butt is representative of approximately 60 miles on my bicycle in the last week. I’ve been riding to work, to the grocery store, to strange appointments to meet strange people with very nice dogs. My bike seat is a small rock upon which the relentless sea of my butt has crashed interminably.
And though sitting is painful, and stairs are a struggling chore, and I’ve seriously considered buying one of those donut pillows that people get when they have below-the-belt above-the-knee surgery, I am happy. I’ve lived something of a sedentary life because it’s hard to work out while you’re obsessing over school, deeply depressed, and really good at finding excuses not to. I remember there being a point when I was adding peas and corn to the piles of mashed potatoes I was eating for almost every meal, and I thought “I’m doing much better,” and somewhere in the world, a dietician wept for I was entirely lost.
But now my butt hurts. I’m a better cook and can make myself decently healthy foods, or I know very well just how unhealthy some of the really delicious stuff is. I have better standards than buying a thing of dehydrated potatoes and pouring cans of vegetables to it and eating it from the pot while watching Parks and Recreation on a tablet mounted on a cardboard box. And I actually ride my bike enough that I’ve lost weight and have the powerful legs of a dwarvish Olympic sprinter. So sitting on a chair and wincing at the tenderness of my booty is less a moment of misery and more one in which I’m reminded I’m not as much of a piece of slovenly shit as I used to be when I’d sit on the floor, potato crust at the edge of my lips, wondering why butter wasn’t its own food group.