Monday, May 04, 2009

A Butt for Me?

"Hey!!" Said Heidi, who was over here this past weekend with her husband Tom, for her birthday. "You look good!"

I was, at that moment, bending over to get something out of the fridge.

"Really?"

"Yeah. In fact, you look real good."

Heidi was looking at my butt.

Since no one has ever complimented my butt before, I was somewhat taken aback. Why? Because I don't have a butt.

I have written a lot about the fact that the AIDS medications, while saving my life, have also caused some weird side effects, one of which is that it moves body fat around your body into inconvenient places. Or worse, moves it FROM the places that you WANT it. More specifically, my butt.

I have always had a relatively skinny ass and never gave it much thought, frankly. I'm not really that vain. I don't color my hair or pluck my eyebrows. I have no designer clothing and when the movie "The Devil Wears Prada" came out, my first question was "What's a Prada?" (Yes, I'm a bad gay).

So, when the AIDS meds took away what little butt I had to begin with, what bothered me what not so much the aesthetic, but the fact that it's downright painful to sit in most chairs unless they have a really nice cushion.

This mean that on park benches, subway stops, public transportation, theatre seating, I'm usually in a lot of pain -- and it annoys anyone sitting next to me to watch or feel me squirming and moving around trying to find a way to be comfortable for a few seconds. But that's as long as it lasts. And then I'll be moving and shifting again. People hate sitting next to me.

But it can be serious problem. For instance, when Cirque De Soleil first came to L.A., they were in a circus tent and we sat on these long benches. Well, I was in such pain, I couldn't focus on the acrobats. I was almost in tears by the time the first act ended, and I begged Jimmy to take us home. It was seriously that bad. You can laugh if you want (I don't mind), but pain is pain, and I have found myself, when I enter a room, immediately looking for the most padded chair possible. It's become second nature to me.

One source of great discomfort that's REALLY inconvenient for me are piano benches. I can last only so long on them before I'm seriously hurting. And that's a bad thing for a piano player.

Last week, I received an email from a person who works for a company called "Butt For You, Inc." She wrote, after viewing my silly animation on bonusround.com:
I was recently doing some research online and came across your website. It's fantastic. The opening alone had me cracking up! I love your sense of humor.

After reading through your blog, I thought of something I’d like to pass along. I actually work with a company that specializes in padded underwear for men and women. Because of the harsh discomforts that medical ailments bring, this item has provided comfort to so many out there with HIV, AIDS and cancer. I am not necessarily sure if this will be of interest to you or your readers, but I really wanted to share the information as many have found much relief from the padded undergarments.
I confess, through the years, I've seen products like this advertised, but I tended to dismiss them because, as you'll see if you click through to Butt For You, Inc., they're mostly marketed as a vanity product, so I didn't take them very seriously. (I also understand why they do that. With our looks obsessed culture, and people padded up their boobs or getting facelifts, it's probably the only viable way to sell things like this in any big numbers.)

And, frankly, looking at the illustrations and the photos, I confess I found them kind of silly looking.

But, because of this, I never spent money on them, fearing that they weren't really a solution to my specific problem. I wasn't really concerned about my ass looking good. I wanted something that would guarantee me some comfort. I wanted a actual clinical solution, not a silly vanity product.

I wrote back to the woman at the company and she offered a product sample, confident that if I tried them, I would like them. And then she said I could say whatever I wanted. I could make fun of them, I could tell the world if they sucked, but just to give them a try.

At first, when they arrived and I pulled them out of the package, I thought, "I'll never wear these. They look ridiculous."

But, I have to confess, from the moment I pulled them on, they were absolutely comfortable. A little weird feeling, like having something in your two back pockets, but the construction of the garment is solid. This is not like buying a cheap t-shirt that falls apart.

At first, I thought the padding was just a bit too high on the hip to work for me, but I found that once I sat, it was easy to get the pads exactly where I need them and they were firm but soft. It didn't feel like I was sitting on a lump (my other fear). I'm also found that they were firm enough to actually matter and make a difference in my comfort level.

I tried something. I went to my office chair, pulled off the extra seat pad which normally sits there and spent a day working at my desk. I spent the weekend going back and forth between my normal undies and these, and I found myself really missing the padding when it wasn't there.

It's clear that they must have spent time working on the exact right size of the pad because, in daily activity, I barely noticed them. (My fear was that they would start sagging or, while walking around, feel like I had too much stuff in my back pockets or they would start to make me sweat and get heavy).

We went to the movies. Total comfort.

Saturday night, though, was the big test. Remember I told you how Berington and I did an impromptu concert when the scheduled artist didn't show up? Well, that was 90 minutes on the piano bench. Not only was I in complete comfort on that bench, but I forgot I was wearing these things altogether. And not once did I squirm or rearrange myself to stop being in pain.

It was a miracle!

So, I confess. I love these things. They might be advertised as just a product to make your butt look good, but they function, for me, as a clinical solution to a really painful problem. They are a bit pricey, as you will see: $30 a pair. But once I saw how much workmanship went into them -- each pad is fitted into a very securely make pocket that's sewn in; you remove the pad to wash -- it made total sense. This is not a fly-by-night product. It's well designed and well constructed.

And, I have to confess, I didn't hate the fact that Heidi noticed how good my butt looked when I bent over.

EDIT: Now you don't have to ask me what to get me for my birthday. I'm a size 32-34. :)
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For my birthday, also St. Francis of Assisi Day,

here is "Rescue" the song I sang to Erika Amato 's Buddy the dog. Imagine if we loved humans as much as we love our animals...