It’s 2014 and I am in a sex shop staring at a big douche. Even though it is an inanimate object, I feel it staring back at me, telepathically communicating: buy me. It’s the first time I’ll ever purchase my own, and the first time I’ll ever actually properly douche before bottoming. Ever the smart consumer, I want the best product money can buy. This one looks like it. The box is bright, cherry red. At the top, the logo of a classic gay porn studio famed for its iconic macho models, one of whom is featured on the box. The unrecognizable porn star, shot from behind, flexes his perfect lats and shoulders, which glisten with beads of sweat. His massive muscular posterior, covered only with a skimpy wet speedo, juts out invitingly. To his right, the actual product contained in the box is pictured. It looks like a dildo - red, rippled, smooth, ergonomic looking, designed for HIS pleasure - attached to a rubber douche bulb. What better way to begin to prep for anal sex than with a product like this, I think.
The following evening I am standing in my bathroom, the sink filled with warm water, and a fuckbuddy on his way over in an hour. I’m nervous about the sex, but confident that with my chic new douche I will become the king of the Brooklyn bottoms. I take the bulb out of the box, squeeze it tight and then insert it into the water and release the bulb. I watch it fill up, then pull it out of the basin and give it a shake. It’s full. I rest the bulb on the sink counter and take out the nozzle. For the first time I look at it closely. Instead of those cheapie enemas (such an ugly, unsexy, clinical name, I think) with their thin, un-stylish nozzle, my douche’s ribbed handle has multiple holes to “irrigate” my anal cavity. I stare at those holes, nestled in the curves of the nozzle, and then attach it to the bulb. I put lube on my butthole and use my finger to push it inside. Then I coat the nozzle with more lube.
Now I’m ready. I take a deep breath and I start to push the nozzle deep inside me. It hurts just a little, but I breathe and keep pushing. Then, when I feel I can’t go any farther, I take my other hand and squeeze the bulb as hard as I can. I want as much water to get inside me as possible, and….success! I can feel my gut start to tighten up as the water gushes out into my anal cavity.
Once I can’t squeeze any more, I start to pull the nozzle out. I’m feeling good, proud of myself, confident in my purchase, when - OW! I stop pulling. I pause. I pull again- OW! What the hell was that? I decide something’s wrong and better to rip the bandaid off than go slow, so I pull the nozzle out quickly and - OW! OW! OW! OW! Something has nicked me, multiple times. I am standing there, my gut clenched and ready to shit out the water, and so the business must be attended to. I sit down on the toilet and push out the water and fecal matter - and feel tiny bursts of pain from where I’ve been nicked internally. I wipe and see a faint bit of blood.
I take the nozzle and stare at it. Could the irrigated grooves be what caused the cuts? It doesn’t make any sense to me. A company couldn’t sell a product like this that wounds its customers internally when they use it. It would be a scandal! No, it must be something I’m doing wrong. I decide to repeat the process again, only this time with more lube. Squeeze the bulb, dip in water, release, attach the nozzle, coat it with extra lube, insert, squeeze and...bingo! This time when I remove the noz-OW! OW! OW! OW! OW! It happens again. Just as before.
Even though I learned in grade school the types of glue-as-cereal-milk tricks that advertising companies use to make products look more inviting, I still fell for this one, hard. The company who made the douche designed it this way. It knew that generations of gay men who came of age after Stonewall learned how to have gay sex by watching porn. It knew that many inexperienced consumers would - as I did - assume that a porn company's products would be the best and safest to use during sex. It knew how to activate our desires with packaging and buff boys on the box. I was convinced that if I bought this douche, I would absolutely start having sex like a porn star. Instead, I wound up in pain, confused, angry, and turned off. My first time douching was an important moment for me because it was the beginning of my own awareness of how wrong many of my porn-derived learned behaviors in sexual situations were. I threw the douche away and set about learning a range of new ways to approach and prepare for bottoming. Five years later, I’m so glad I did. So are my partners.