Friday, January 16, 2015

The Connoisseuse of Butts

The task is to find butts in pictures. In fact, that is the official title of the task: “Butts in Pictures.” This past summer I worked for a company that hires humans for tasks requiring human discretion. I didn’t do the job for very long, but while I did, I used my human-powers to outline houseplants in photographs and to neatly type out pixelated text.
My most striking assignment was to determine if there were naked butts in pictures. Sounds simple enough, I know. But you’d be surprised.
Consider these scenarios: If someone is pantless and standing sideways so you see a hip, have you actually seen a butt? What if they turn three-quarters so you don’t quite see the crack but you get a lot of cheek? What if they’re lying down spread-eagle on their back and you see lots of cleft and hairy bits just above what you would consider to be a butt, but no actual butt parts? What if the butt is obscured by a close-perspective view of a dildo, a vibrator, a plug? How much of the butt do you have to see to be sure that you’re seeing a butt?
For that matter, what if the person is wearing sheer pantyhose? What if a thong is pushed to the side—does that count as a naked butt? If you see the very top of a stringy thong emerging from a big, round butt, the correct answer, as I gleaned it from my instructions, is that no, there is not a naked butt in the picture. If sheer white material is soaking wet so that an entire butt is easily discerned beneath it, the answer is still no: not a naked butt.
At first I felt a little bit titillated. These were, after all, butts, many of them being caressed, probed, kissed, or licked, or otherwise looking like first-rate examples of butt. (By the way, if a face that is appreciating a butt obscures most of a butt, can you really call it a naked-butt picture? These are the sorts of philosophical conundrums I wrestled with.)
After a few dozen butts, the titillation factor completely dissipates, and once again a butt is a cushion with an additional purpose. I admit that initially, although not a butt person, I was swept away on a wave of posteriors, a sexy surfeit of derrierage.
I’m not certain why I was looking at butts in pictures. I mean, sure, to get paid—I’ll do almost any unharmful thing for money—but who requires Karen Craigo’s assessment of buttness? Was this a psychological experiment? Was I refining future porn searches? I suspected the latter most of the time, and the former some of the time.
Mixed in with butts, supposedly to keep me on my toes, were non-butt pictures. I mean there were headshots of Tom Cruise and pictures of popsicles and Christmas trees and things like that. But time-on-task plays its tricks on you. You end up making a connection.
There were also pictures with the butts cropped out, so I had to be mindful of a tendency to credit the phantom butt, the butt that lives only in my mind.
I used to date a guy who would get together with his guy-friends and compare women’s butts. “Nice pooper.” I swear to God, I heard one of them say this one time.
As I’ve gotten older, my once-flat butt has grown and grown. I appreciate this fact. I can sit on bleachers or toilet seats without having a leg fall asleep. Once when I was young, my skirt fell off right in the middle of the five-and-ten. Now a big butt can snag it before it falls, as sort of a last defense. These, though, are not the types of butts that say cheese.

As I worked on the task, I developed a personal theory of butt-nakedness, but I can’t honestly say that my definition works for everyone. I’m just saying you need a little crack for the butt to count. Obviously, if there’s a hole, it’s golden.

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