I was competing in Scottsdale a few weeks ago with Fitz (you can read all about my captaining of the struggle bus here and here), and on the Monday off day between show weeks, something happened that was mortifying.
My parents and I went out to WestWorld to check on Fitzy, and I got the bright idea to jump on him bareback for a walk.
As kids, my friends and I were all barn rats. We rode bareback frequently: sit-a-buck, jumping games, Halloween costumes that would have been so lame with a saddle. We were experts. Now, as a 30 year old who has been known to take things a smidgen too seriously, I hoped to reclaim some of that… oh, I don’t know, blithe bonding with my horse.
Back at home, sitting on the patio with a drink in my hand, is when I started to notice something was wrong. Every time I got up, sat down, or shifted in my seat, there was a stinging where my thigh met my butt. Right where, oh yes, one has the most contact while riding bareback.
Guys. Guys. Between my jeans, my underpants, and the sweat, I had two lines of rubbed off skin, one on each cheek.
I thought this only happened to runners. Because this has never happened to me before.
For the next four days, I was reapplying triple antibiotic to my ass like crazy. Which was pleasant, as you can imagine, in a squishy kind of way. I also have never appreciated the gel seat in my CWD saddle more. The message from this incident and the increasing delicacy of the skin on my ass as it’s expanded over the years is clear: I apparently need to stay on my toes for the dysfunctions of my body.
At a certain age, you have to put down the random hair removal products, and just pay for the wax, we concluded. In addition to my friend’s misfortune both with the Veet and the chaffing of her own, my mama was dealing with a rogue body as well. Between a random allergy rash, and a giant water blister on her toe, I crowned her president of our chapter of the WTF IS HAPPENING TO MY BODY club.
Coincidentally, that is (almost) the name of the book she gave me when I was 12, in lieu of the sex talk. Who knew it would also refer to a near-constant state of utter confusion as these weird things happen all the time.
I wholly blame my expectation of normalcy on the media, and the magazines we see every day. In addition to unrealistic expectations on how we look, no one ever talks about all the ways our bodies betray us. There were things I had no idea were normal until grad school, when reading the Dooce forums instead of writing my papers was my procrastination method of choice. Between skin tags, random fluids, and the late-in-life learning of what “episiotomy” meant, I learned that most of what I thought meant I was dying, or a freak, were actually quite normal (but still awkward as shit).
I also blame how we encourage others to see us. In college, I had numerous friends – of both sexes – who refused to acknowledge that women had “out” holes; that things only went in us. Which is utterly insane. But this internalization that women’s bodies be totally static, and perfect, and for consumption is something that I feel happens to a lot of us. Yes, dudes, I know it happens to you too, but y’all are regularly more gross in a “smell my finger” kind of way that protects you a bit.
In a way, these totally embarrassing incidents are kind of empowering. They lead to hilarious “omg-me-too” conversations with our friends, and with each one, they pave the way for us to stop obsessing over being magazine-model-perfect, and get to doing other things.
You know, as soon as the Neosporin starts working and you can adjust your underpinnings to where the sweat burns no longer kill you. In the future, I will be using my saddle at all times.