I saw a girl break her butt one time. In high school, a girl on my volleyball team went up for a spike, but then landed right on her butt rather than her feet. She immediately started screaming. Usually when someone gets hurt in public, they wince and whimper and maybe actually cry, but mostly they try and hold it in. But she didn't care about any of that. She laid out on the floor, unable or unwilling to move, wailing in pain. I didn't know before that day that a butt was something you could break. I knew about the tailbone, of course, but the butt is not really the tailbone - it's the muscle and fat around it. Still, there was no other way to describe it, because if you asked her where it hurt, she would have no choice as to where to point. So I learned that day that you could break your butt and that it really, really hurt.
Last weekend, I broke my butt.
I'm not sure if there is any broken butt story that is not at least tinged with embarrassment. But mine is not a good story. We were fly fishing on Wilson's Creek, which has huge boulders in it. I was trying to get upstream by climbing the boulders. I misjudged my ability to climb boulders, and I fell on my butt and slid into the water. I shrieked. Then I wished that I had shrieked in a lower pitch, because those who did not see the fall knew who had created the shriek and splash. In any case, I broke my butt while I was fishing. Fishing.
It didn't really hurt all that much. It hurt a little, the way things hurt when you have a minor mishap. It was more like bumping your head on a low ceiling rather than falling off your bicycle and smashing your head on the pavement. I certainly had no idea that I had the equivalent of a butt concussion. As the day went on, I noticed that the tenderness did not go away, but I had other things on my mind, like catching fish and falling in the river again. I thought I might have a bruise, and I even looked for it when I finally got back to the house and peeled off my waders.
But then my butt didn't feel better. The pain did not go away, it got worse. Sitting down for dinner consisted of me shifting my position every five minutes, as one position after another became unbearable. The only thing worse than sitting on my tender bottom was changing positions to find a better way to sit. And then we drove the four hours back to Raleigh, and I felt every bump in the road. Yet still I did not even think of it as a broken butt. Because broken butts hurt immediately, so much that you lie screaming on the floor.
Then I looked it up on the internet, and the internet says that sometimes broken butts don't hurt until later. Apparently the butt's emergency broadcast system is not very efficient. The internet also says that you can go to the doctor, and he will give you painkillers and an inflatable donut, but nothing else. This is the most frustrating part of a broken butt - you can't do anything about it. I don't mind problems that I can fix, but this is a problem where I have to wait on it to fix itself.
Using my status as expert of my own butt, I have decided that my tailbone is not broken, only bruised. If I had really broken it, I would have filled the forest with my high-pitched shrieks. Since I do not intend to go to the doctor, there is no way to confirm or deny this theory. However, even if my tailbone is not broken, my butt still kinda is. It's not broken as in fractured, it is broken as in it does not act the way a fully functioning butt should. Well, okay, it acts exactly the same, but it hurts all the time. I had no idea how much I use my butt. It's not just sitting, it's walking and climbing stairs, too. The absolute worse is getting up from a sitting position. I had no idea a butt could hurt like that - a sharp stab of pain at the very bottom of my spine. I bet if I went around saying that I bruised my spine, I would get a lot more sympathy.
Because you get no sympathy at all for your broken butt, only jokes. My sister, who broke her butt last winter (snowboarding - much cooler), pointed this out to me. And I remembered how I made fun of her broken butt, not realizing the special kind of pain that only a broken butt can create. I remembered how we all laughed at the girl on my volleyball team, once she stopped screaming. I would say that I learned my lesson, but I haven't. In telling this story, I'm playing up the fact that a broken butt is, well, funny. Just the words are funny - broken butt. I broke my butt. I went fishing and broke my butt. I'm laughing right now, the movement of which, by the way, hurts my butt.