Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The End of Bottoming

Writers often fear that they have nothing original to say.  I, on the other hand, steadfastly hope that what I`m writing about is not original.  I want to know that others have tread the same murky waters of sex in all its glory (and unglory).  I don`t want to think I`m alone in my experiences.  An isolation like that would be too hard to bear.  No, I don`t want to be original.  What I do want is dialogue with like-minded travellers on the quest.

This essay describes an embarrassing moment during sex that happened 7 years ago.  It forever changed my sexual behaviour, up to the time of this writing.  Could I ever tell my family, with whom I confide a great deal, about it?  Not on your life. Could I tell my friends, even my closest confidantes?  Never have, and probably never will.  So it’s down to you Dear Reader.  Sorry for burdening you.  The irony is that because we don’t know each other, I can be brutally honest.  I don’t want to write this essay.  And that is why I know I should.

In 1997, I got to know a local gay bar intimately, by working as both the door guy, taking your cover charges, and as the coat check guy, taking your coats for tips.  But it was years later that I met Ethan at said bar, around 2003.  No longer working there, just a patron, I was wearing a sleeveless T, perfect for showing off the biceps.  And it caught the eye of Ethan. 

Ahhh, Ethan.  Unruly auburn hair, freckled, built, about 25 years old, compared to my 29 or 30 years.  He looked jockish.  Our eyes locked and I sidled up to where he was seated.  Imagine my surprise when this jockish guy told me he was in from another province for a month to attend an opera-singing workshop at the university.  He also told me he was imagining what I looked like naked.  We kissed and high tailed it out of there, headed in a cab to his place.

He was staying in a non-descript apartment, sharing it with others attending the same opera workshop.  In his room, there was just a mattress on the floor and his luggage.  I had a soft spot for men just passing through town- no commitments, no fuss, no muss.   We two men stumbled into the ecstasy that two men find when the clothes come off and you begin to explore each other.  That holy moment of first touch.  And coming up for air from between his legs, I looked up at his face.  His eyes were closed.  He revelled in my touch and I looked at that face and thought: beautiful.  I took a mental Polaroid and filed it in a folder in my mind labelled Remember Forever.  To me, he was that beautiful.

 I wanted my hands to touch every inch of his cock, his bush, his balls, and finally his ass.  Eventually, I licked a finger and penetrated his ass.  And my finger was blocked by something hard.  Yes, there was a train in the tunnel.  No sweat, I figured, as I pulled my finger out.  We would forego assplay.  Ethan seemed unaware and continued to revel in the eroticism of our play.

We connected again a few days later, wandering the woods of my city’s river valley together.  And in those woods, he blew his wad on my chin and shirt collar.  He was brave and bold, taking my hand as we walked along the street back towards the university, to search for a cab to take me home.   In the moonlight, I got in the cab, and turned to look at Ethan.  There was the man, smiling at me, whose cum rested on my shirt collar (we’ve come a long way since the 1959 Connie Francis hit “Lipstick on Your Collar”, haven’t we?).  We had made plans to meet again at his place in a day or two.  I couldn’t wait.

We never know when we are about to face down a game-changing moment, do we?  On the way to see Ethan again, I was innocently oblivious to what would amount to a change in my future sexual behaviour.

It was summer time, so it remained light until late.  I arrived at his place at around 6pm, and we proceeded to get naked, the sunlight streaming through the window.  This time, it was my ass that was played with, and this was no problem – I’d bottomed a fair bit and felt comfortable as Ethan slipped on a condom.  He entered me, and it was no more nor no less challenging than any other time.  What I loved was looking in his eyes, and feeling that maybe this was the start of something good.  Just the fact that we had made it to date three was a near-miracle, given my track record of one night stands that never made it to a second meeting.

But the look in his eyes shifted suddenly.  And then the smell hit me.  It was the smell of certain humiliation.  I evidently wasn’t clean.  Dear Reader, in the many times that I had bottomed before, I had never experienced this problem.  I was so unsophisticated, that I didn’t even know how to douche.  How had I remained so clean while being fucked in the past?  Pure, dumb luck.  I looked down, and saw my mess had even gotten on his leg.  He said “Cum now” and I did and he did, quick and efficient, to put an end to this episode gone wrong.

In the shower, I was speechless.  I began with “sorry about....” and he good naturedly said “ Hey, that’s life”.  But something had shifted.  We didn’t have enough of a foundation to truly process a messy sexual experience, and I instantly became deeply insecure, searching for signs that he forgave me and my body for betraying our desire.  I was deeply embarrassed and was not cool about it.  For someone else, this may have seemed minor.  For me, it verged on catastrophe.  I instantly felt betrayed by my body and cursed my ass, as if it should have known better.  The stakes felt high – I really liked Ethan, and my brain was screaming at me that my ass had ruined it.

My plumbing was fucked up, and I needed to spend time in the washroom righting myself.  When I’d pulled it together, we settled on the couch, and cuddled while making a half-hearted effort to watch a movie.  But I was only half present – my other half was obsessively reliving what had happened in the bedroom.

I saw Ethan once more before he headed back to his hometown.  But I was now coming at him from a self-defeating angle, sure that I had lost his desire.  And indeed the signs were there, though I tried not to see it.  He held my hand, but it felt cold.  We said goodbye and he gave me his West Coast number.

Fucking synchronicity being what it is, I remember reading Dan Savage’s column “Savage Love” around this time.  He casually mentioned that if you have anal sex with a new guy, and you’re not clean, don’t expect to see him again.  And so rather than gather what dignity I still felt I had left, and letting it and Ethan go, I lurched forward and called Ethan instead, saying that I was coming out to his city for a vacation.  Could we get together?  Sure he said, but he had to go, it was dinnertime, his family was calling.  Did he call me back?  No.  Did I take the hint? No.  Instead, I bought a ticket with Masochistic Airlines and flew West as the summer (and my ass) was starting to close.

Ethan worked part time at a sports bar in his city’s gay Village, and upon arriving, I went to find him, and find him there I did.  Walking down to the beach, we made plans to meet that night and spend the evening together.  I remember he kissed me, and took that as a sign that he was into me, into this.  I felt I’d been given a second chance to redeem my wounded ego, and went back to the hotel to wait for his call expected at 6pm.

6pm came.  So did 7pm.  I left him a message – “Hey, just waiting for your call, hope you’re ok and looking forward to tonight”. 8pm came.  9pm came.  Finally, reality came.  I had been stood up.

I hit the streets, determined to salvage this ill-fated trip by going out, drinking, meeting someone new.  But any gay Village is small – I ran into Ethan on the street, completely by chance.  I had nothing to say, and was numb to his excuses for not getting back to me.  I suggested we not draw this out any further.  He agreed and wimpishly asked for a hug.  I declined, asking “what for?”, and we parted.  But fate loves to rub our nose in it, and we actually passed on the street once more, a day or two later.  Our eyes met and we both immediately looked away.  This man, to whom I was very attracted, who had cum on me in the woods by a river, who had told me that his friends liked me, who had taken my hand in public, was now to be treated as a stranger.

Another casualty was my ass, now to be treated as a stranger as well.

I recognize that I may have misplaced my anger about what happened with Ethan, but I blamed my ass.  Looking at things now, could it be that the same outcome would have occurred with Ethan whether or not my ass cooperated with our anal sex or not? I only topped from that day on.  Bottoming left me feeling too vulnerable.  I worked on my ass on my own time, thank you very much.  I was no stranger to my dildos.  So I didn’t completely shut down.  But many an hour was spent wondering what it would take to get back on the horse and bottom again.  In all honesty, I gave it a shot, once, but abandoned it quickly, still not ready to go there.  Topping was easy, no risk.  And so while bottoming might be considered by some as the passive or femme or sub position to take, I know the truth – it takes a real man to bottom.  Bottoming takes balls.  And if memory serves, the rewards are stunning.  The prostate should be celebrated yearly by a parade in its honour.

Regarding my ass, I let a mental block form, but now I realize that, as Ethan had said regarding my messy ass, “that’s life”.   And I very well may be underestimating Ethan – maybe he truly meant it and hadn’t been shocked by my body’s lack of finesse.  In any case, I know how to douche now.  So what’s stopping me from giving it another go?  Ass, it’s time for you to head out into the world again.  Ass, you’ve gone unattended to for too long.  This is an ass manifesto.  “The End of Bottoming”, my ass!  I’m going to get back in the game.  Ass, you’ve been so patient.  Ass, you need to meet a partner who’s going to honour you and enjoy you.

Am I ready to be that vulnerable again?


  1. One night in 1978, I had my face right up in the ass of a guy who looked remarkably like Elton John. At the precise instant that I put my tongue up to his manhole, he farted. Loudly farted. Victoriously farted. Noisomely farted. He said, "Did I do that?" That story has been told many times over the years.

    But this one has not:
    In the early eighties, during my work-out phase, a friend of mine from my hometown in West Virginia came down to my house in Savannah, GA, to visit for a week. He had asked if he could bring a friend, and I encouraged him to do that. When they got to my house, the guy turned out to be an extremely hot 30-year old coal miner. He had the characteristic chiseled, worried features of the Appalachian people, and a body that was built by mining coal, not pumping iron. During the week, we knew that we were going to get it on, but due to the number of people in the house, the deed would have to wait until the weekend, just before they left. I don't remember too much about that night.

    It must have been good, because we continued our relationship long-distance. I went to WV to visit for two weeks in the summer, and Doug and I would spend the entire afternoon at his house. His was an old, wooden two story house in disrepair. There was an indoor bathroom, but no toilet. To relieve oneself, one stood at the hole where a window used to be and pissed out onto the mountainside. For more solid relief, there was a commode, and the bathtub held a bucket of water to use to force the toilet to flush. It was empty, and the water had to be hauled upstairs from the kitchen. So, on his kingsized bed, we had sex. On the last day of my visit, I straddled him and sat down on his eight-inch, veiny uncircumsized cock. We hadn't gotten too far into it before I I to dismount to readjust. Oh, my God! Brown had totally coated his cock like I had frosted it with chocolate frosting. For some odd reason, there was no smell to speak of. The problem: how the hell do I get this off without him seeing it and getting totally grossed-out. No water without going downstairs, no towel on the bed to at least get the worst of it off, no blindfold to put around his head. All I could do was go downstairs, get water and a couple of towels, and then clean up the mess. He never said a word. Perhaps he really had kept his eyes shut. I apologized, he said "no problem, and, with me feeling totally embarrassed, rescued the afternoon by playing for a couple of hours. When I came, I shot directly into my eye. My cum has stung my eye like a bee sting.

    I walked down Main Street to my grandparent's house. I had, for all intents and purposes, taken a dump on a man. I carried the mark of a criminal. My bright red eye was my scarlet letter. Hopefully, this would be the worst sex I would ever have in my life.

    I have not bottomed - or topped, for that matter, since then. For the most part, the reason is that I just never liked it too much anyway. The memory of that afternoon, though, just makes me not like it any more. My ass has remained unexplored by anyone - including me - for years. Only recently have I discovered a whole unused playground up there. In case I get a frosted finger, I can make it ten feet to the bathroom without needing a blindfold.

  2. And there goes that dose of humor that I can't seem to leave off when I finish a story. Is it closure? Is it closing a door to the past? Is it telling myself that I didn't really mean any of this? Does it matter?

  3. I don’t mean to be an asshole, gents, but shit happens.

    If we weren’t meant to be drawn to the beauty of men’s asses, to kiss and to fuck their mysterious holes—both deeply—they wouldn’t have been made so damn beautiful. I am a lover of cock. I am also a lover of male asshole. I want to enjoy as many of both as I can, including my own penis, and my own anus. Let’s admit, both are essential sexual equipment. For men, they are equally worthy and vital sex organs, not least because the butthole provides the most direct access to our prostates, and how miraculously the penis is designed to reach it!

    However, both the dick and the butthole are also channels for the elimination of waste from our bodies. I’ve always had the sense that there is some inscrutable meaning in this dual functionality and its inherent dangers. It has something to do with the helpless reality that we are, basically, animals, and not gods. I enjoy a huge sensual and metaphorical appreciation for piss, but that is not the subject of this comment. But with all due respect to the scat boys, I enjoy zero erotic or aesthetic appreciation for shit, except possibly for the sense of danger of its presence so intimately connected with the massive hunger/curiosity/worship/need I have to know a man’s hole, to taste it, to lick it, and to penetrate it. Likewise, my own vulnerability in offering my own hole: when a man’s tongue is deep in my rectum, I am at my most naked. And I will taste what he’s tasted when he kisses me afterwards. How good it is to be a man.

    If I want a man enough to want to be inside him, then I simply must accept the fact that, like me, he is a creature who shits ugly smelly disgusting shit, and that part of my intimacy with him might include the un-looked-for experience of it. If it is my own hole that is the site of our connection, then I can’t avoid the reality that occasionally whatever beauty he finds in my body might be mixed with, yes, excrement.

    I’m all for the etiquette of preparation of the asshole for sex. It’s part of the strange glamour of anticipation, and a gentleman (even if he’s a pig) who expects to get fucked has a responsibility to look after the cleanliness of his rectal channel. (Not too clean, please: I love the musky, sweaty, bosky scent of a man’s crack.) As a practical matter, a hand-held shower head with multiple spray settings can be a homo’s best friend. With water at the right temperature and the spray at the correct strong-but-not-too-strong setting, it’s a simple (and very pleasurable) procedure to get quite a bit of water up the ass and wash away whatever might be lurking up there.

    But there are times when the opportunity for butt sex comes up unexpectedly, and I count these experiences among my favorites. One particularly memorable occasion, a long time ago: I was in a fairly long-term relationship with a beautiful man named M. The son of diplomats, he was half Dutch and half Guatemalan (an exquisite genetic combination, take my word for it). He was one of those rare guys who could give me a raging erection from the slightest touch, or his scent in my nose, or a certain gesture, or the sounds he made moving in his nylon canvas jacket. I couldn’t help it. In the 2+ years we were together, there was never a time we were together that we didn’t have sex, which is to say that on this night I should have known. I should have been prepared for the sex I’m going to tell you about.


  4. In my head at the time, though, I wasn’t expecting sex. We’d quarreled over something—I forget what it was—and hadn’t spoken or seen each other in a week. Suddenly, I got a call from him. He was house-sitting at some friends’ apartment and did I want to come hang out? I wasn’t expecting such an invitation, and didn’t really feel like seeing him, but figured he might want to straighten out whatever it was that had come between us. Given the hard feelings, he didn’t sound like he wanted sex, either. It didn’t seem like the mood was right. I went to the apartment. We sat on the sofa and watched television. We didn’t really talk. I was frustrated, and feeling like it was a dumb thing to have gone there, sitting on some strangers’ sofa and not connecting all evening. I was about to get up and leave when M said the bed was king-size and lonely and that it was a pity not to take advantage of it. Fuck if that didn’t give me an instant boner!

    What can I say? It always added some excitement to have sex with M in an unfamiliar place, and lots of things we couldn’t say to each other in words that night we said with our bodies in that big somebody-else’s bed. My brothers, I ended up getting seriously, rampantly, profoundly pounded. I ended up face-down flat on the bed, feeling M’s cock-spasms filling me with cum, his sweaty chest against my back. Spent, he lay there on top of me, still inside me, almost motionless, catching his breath, cock still stiff in my hole and I felt it twitching occasionally. And I held him in me, there. I wanted him there… Eventually, he rolled over on his back. I turned my head to look at him, to see if he was with me or off by himself. There was enough light to look him in the eye. It was enough. There was also enough light to look at his still-erect cock. And I saw the muddy brownishness of the glistening spunk on his vertical boner: Uh-oh.

    I hadn’t expected to get fucked. I hadn’t been prepared. M is a clean guy. I knew he wouldn’t like it. I also knew his dick was painfully sensitive right after orgasm and he couldn’t stand to be touched. He was ignoring it, waiting for the erection to fade. ‘Come on,’ I whispered, ‘you need a shower.’ I climbed out of bed. I stood there wondering if he’d resist or obey. I headed for the (somebody-else’s) bathroom, started the water, and sat on the toilet. Finally he came in. I realized he’d never seen me on the toilet before. I was coaxing the gurgling semen and, yes, a just a little gooey shit from my ass. M stepped into the shower. I stood, wiped myself, and joined him. He put his arms around me and kissed me, and I knelt with the bar of soap and washed his dick, washed it like a servant, washed it well for him and rinsed the soap off and took his clean wet cock into my mouth. But he pulled me up, turned me around, and, with the same respect or humility, washed my asshole for me. His soapy fingertips inside me got me hard again… In short, it was a long shower.

    There was nothing beautiful about the shit, my shit. But everything before and after its appearance was beautiful. We never talked about the shit, either. What was there to say? But it was also far from the last time we had sex.

    My shit was inconvenient and embarrassing and undesirable. It could have ruined the night, but somehow, it didn’t and maybe the experience taught me not to be too anxious about it. Intimacy is intimacy. It can’t be confined to pretty/hot fantasy pictures in your head. It’s real or it’s not real. I like it real, and I’m willing to put up with imperfections like shit when they happen. There are plenty of others.

    It makes me sad reading about these experiences as deal-breaking betrayals. I can’t help thinking there was more going on, that the shit was an excuse or a scapegoat. How could it really be so astonishing and unforgivable? Shit happens, even to the most perfect guys.

    There’s a whole other story to tell about giving anal head, but
    maybe another time…


    1. Brother. This tale of yours cracked me wide open, because I realized so many things. One, to forgive myself for my imperfect and sometimes inconvenient body. Second, I too am so sad that this experience of mine made me shut down so hard and fully regarding being a bottom. Third, you talk of what else was going on at that moment that the "shit happened". I was with a guy I desperately wanted to like me, and felt I'd failed. Even Dan Savage of the great "Savage Love" sex advice column warned once that if you have sex for the first time and aren't clean in the ass, don't expect to see the guy again. His words ricocheted in my head after my experience that I write of. It wasn't my first time having sex with this guy, but I saw my shit as a deal breaker.

      What you write is about how to incorporate holistically the beauty of the imperfect and to honour the REAL. I can't really express how thankful I am that you took such care and effort to share your feelings and be an exemplar to me. I'm so glad I started this blog, to hear from brothers like yourself.....Jason