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1 story
by
Tomas Moniz

Tomas Moniz's debut novel, Big Familia, was a finalist for the 2020 PEN/Hemingway, the LAMBDA, and the Foreward Indies Awards. He has two cats and 3 chickens. He also has stuff on the internet but loves penpals: PO Box 3555, Berkeley CA 94703. He promises to write back.

Asses and OnlyFans

I knew I couldn't be the only one with questions about asses, so why the social silence? I mean I understand: generally, people don’t really want to sit around sipping Rosé discussing the difference between a hemorrhoid and a polyp.

I mean they should but they don’t.

My Zoom Pod was no different. I’m actually pretty impressed when I consider the subjects we have broached: mental health, therapy, addiction, drinking, cuffing.

However, at our last digital happy hour, we went lowbrow: discussing the differences between streaming services.

Suzie, our fearless facilitator, asked: Which is better, Netflix or Hulu?

Don’t forget YouTube got options now, Metal Matt, my best friend, said, clearly justifying his own YouTube subscription.

Estrella said, Shouldn’t we consider library streaming services? They have excellent docs to watch. I do a lot of research that way for my writing.

Both Metal Matt and I groaned. It was just like Estrella to remind us again of her literary aspirations.

I side chatted Metal Matt, Hey, meet me for coffee tomorrow. I have some personal questions I need to ask you.

Suzie said, Ok, let’s do this. Everybody post in the chat all of the subscription services you pay for.

Then she posted in the chat: I bet we all have Amazon Prime, correct?

* * *

This has been my regular Thursday night and I’m thankful.

I'm not drinking alone at least.

Pre-pandemic we all shared this work space collective on a second-floor building above a converted laundromat into makeshift Pentecostal churchspace that served mostly Central Americans right off Fruitvale Avenue. When the shelter in place happened, we realized a couple months in that we missed the camaraderie, so Suzie sent out an email asking if people wanted to set up a virtual hangout.

* * *

But we’re talking about streaming subscriptions.

Suzie added to her post the typical suspects: Netflix and Hulu, which again each one of us had accounts with.

People started posting secondary accounts: Sling, YouTube, Disney, HBO.

The amount of money we spent monthly on identical businesses was ludicrous. Suzie immediately proposed we consider the viability of collective accounts. Metal Matt shot down Amazon sharing because shopping histories would be visible to everyone, and that could be awkward.

We all paused for a moment. I began recalling items that possibly could be sensitive or personal—or just plain embarrassing. My list included lube, butt plugs, and sex toys, which I might be fine with.

It’s my obsession with vintage concert t-shirts that felt shameful. Like I should have actually gone to the shows or purchased them from the artist directly rather than spending $27 bucks to get a Taylor Swift t-shirt from China.

Estrella broke the silence by suggesting we collectively share secondary accounts like Spotify or Uber Eats.

It was Metal Matt’s admission to his OnlyFans subscriptions that blew the evening open.

He confessed to not only following 12 OnlyFan accounts for a total of $73.99 a month, but Metal Matt also admitted to having a page earning him enough to break even.

* * *

Which brings us back to butts.

Just as I was discovering the pleasures of Le Bum, I feared something might be wrong with it. And I was distraught: like really, come on, can’t a person feast on one pleasurable little orifice without negative repercussions? But bodies are a fraught thing. Think babies pushing away from caregivers, desperate to acquire something in their field of vision, and always thwarted. Even if it’s for their own good. Think toddlers planking when placed in car seats. Think teens desperate for independence. In reality, our bodies are always dependent on or obligated to someone else. And in the end, I know this is for the best. In fact, the reality of having to ask for what we desire rather than expect it is what makes the result so pleasurable: can I have a kiss, would you choke me just a little, will you please, please, touch my butt.

A month before the pandemic started, my doctor suggested a colonoscopy even though I was in my early forties, but since I had complained of sporadic bouts of bleeding, it couldn’t hurt.

She said, I doubt it’s anything.

Okay, I said.

But even if it is, it’s very treatable, she added.

But you said it’s probably nothing, I responded, feeling less Okay about it.

Of course, and if it’s not, it’s very treatable.

And then everything shut down and I was left waiting.

I hate waiting.

I hated waiting even more so because I, despite my clear understanding of statistics and science, believed I was deathly ill.

So that’s how it started. My anxiety about my ass and my plan to reclaim it. My shame about my pleasure and my determination to own it. I peppered anyone I could over the strangely comforting distance of Zoom with questions from the sexual to the clinical. I asked about lubes and dildos, I asked about fingers and fingernails, I asked about fissures and bleeding. I asked about care and cleaning. I felt constantly aware: on bikes, in chairs, any pressure or throb became suspect, a reminder: mortality is coming for you.

* * *

But back to Thursday night.

Each of us Googled OnlyFans and had a blast reading out loud the profile names and descriptions: Alley Load. Tagline: what happens in the streets... Apologetic Karen. Tagline: she knows how to say sorry. OhNoHesALeo. Tagline: Let me show you my chart.

Metal Matt calmly explained, Hey, it’s all in line with good politics: I support sex workers and pay for porn rather than support massive porn sites like YouPorn that clearly exploit everyone.

I desperately wanted to hear Metal Matt’s nom de plume, but he wouldn’t reveal it.

He said, What’s the difference between it and Facebook?

The difference is the image of your naked visage, I blurted out.

Yes, but you have to pay to see it and, really, what you see is up to me. I could just post pics of my svelte feet if I wanted.

And people pay for that?

You’d be surprised what people pay for.

Suzie jumped in, Look at us and all our subscriptions.

* * *

When Metal Matt met me at Red Bay Coffee, the parklet was empty, so I wasted no time. I needed to broach the subject of asses and OnlyFans.

Metal Matt, so listen. This is awkward but I figured, hey, one way to fight toxic masculinity: talk about real things.

I smiled wide and raised my eyebrows like haha.

Metal Matt nodded and put his hand on my knee and scrunched up his face.

Efren, I'm not really available.

Trust me, you’re not really my type.

Ah, the not really line.

Hey, you're the one not really available. What does that mean?

Means there’s always possibilities, negotiations.

You have a point, but I do need to talk about asses…

And I paused because I immediately realized I made assumptions about the kinds of sex he engaged in and, since I never had candid conversations about sex with my own best friend, I felt uncomfortable and vulnerable. I knew he was exactly the person I should talk to, but all this shame coursed through me, and then anger that I felt ashamed. I was spiraling.

Efren, tell me what’s on your mind, Metal Matt said.

I breathed in deeply and just blurted it out.

I’m getting a colonoscopy and I’m nervous about that and so I was thinking about doing my own OnlyFans page. To like celebrate my body. Especially my ass.

Metal Matt chuckled and said, That’s kind of a specific reason to set up a page, but definitely profitable. But are you worried about something?

And I told him of the doctor's concern and everything suddenly on hold and then the feeling of powerlessness. I told him about feeling ashamed to even talk to him about it.

Metal Matt pursed his lips together, shook his head up and down.

He took my hand and held it.

He said, Thank you for sharing all this with me. And I’m sure your ass play has nothing to do with whatever the doctor wants to do. But that all sounds really scary.

I shook my head up and down.

I said, It is.

After a moment of silence, Metal Matt added, However, the more intriguing question: have you ever filmed yourself getting sexual?

* * *

I followed all his suggestions and even YouTubed directions: camera angled down, foregrounded illumination, a soft white, not the stark cafeteria blue-white. Make eye contact with the lens. No jarring art or messy bed or bookshelf in the background.

As I set up the room, I considered account names: Doctor Hardwood was my favorite, because I’m a botanist and love trees, and though I’m not technically a Doctor, I’m ABD.

Some good runners up: Mr. Science Friday or Mr. Buttshorts.

I took out my toys and lube, a pleasing array of choices artfully arranged on the crisp white duvet cover. I showered and shaved and trimmed and got in front of the camera and set up my laptop to the side playing the dirty talking role play porn that got me so hot. I didn't even need to watch, just listen to the dialog, the cheesy commands, the faux desperate pleas for more please more or oh my god we shouldn’t.

I filmed for barely five minutes before I dropped everything to the floor and fell back on the bed, spent and shocked at how quick it all crescendoed.

Perhaps watching your own sex tape right after satiation was a bad idea, too intense, because oh god the video horrified.

I couldn’t believe I looked like that.

I couldn’t believe it looked like that.

I deleted it before I got to the end.

* * *

The following Zoom Happy Hour subject: returning to indoor bars or restaurants.

Who has done what so far?

I side chatted Metal Matt: Hey, thank you for warning me about the video.

He wrote: It takes getting used to.

I wrote: How do some people look so good?

The others in the group were posting outdoor work areas as well as beer and/or cocktail gardens they recommended.

I added to the list: Ghost Town brewery just opened up.

Metal Matt wrote to everyone: Metal and Beer.

Then he chatted me: Practice leads to confidence.

Estrella added to the group chat: I love all the Parklets. I do a lot of my writing in them.

I wrote to Metal Matt: I’m pretty confident but my god....

And then I saw in the group chat: Efren, you clearly aren’t that confident about your ass and that’s okay?

I looked at the screen and sure enough: everyone smiling.

Suzie said, I think someone’s private chat just accidentally went public.

Metal Matt fake screamed and said, I’m so sorry everyone, but yeah Efren and I were discussing the art of filming yourself…

For a second no one did anything: just awkward expressions in little Zoom squares.

Estrella, bless her heart, suddenly posted the cone of excitement emoji.

She raised a glass and said, Here’s to Efren’s ass and his confidence.

Suzi, without missing a beat, said, Now that would make a great OnlyFans user name: Efren’s Confident Ass.

And she was right, because it was already taken.