“There are much easier ways to break your finger,” said the nurse, more amused than sympathetic. I didn’t blame him—would’ve done the same. Thing is, I had no reason to make up a ridiculous story that involved a shearling trimmed winter boot, a chocolate mint, and an amethyst doorstop, the details, I presumed, would help truthify my fiction. I could’ve said that I tripped and fell, maybe punched a wall, or got it jammed in a door—all plausible finger-breaking scenarios. I don’t think anyone would believe the truth. It was my secret.
Way back, in the summer after grade eight, I was a half-decent looking guy—though I didn’t have a clue. Once I went to a party and inadvertently made out with every girl in the place. I think It was just a time when everyone was trying to sort out the sexuality game. Poking and prying at bra clasps and blue jeans, no one knew what they were doing. There were highs and lows. Some experiences, awkwardly anti-climactic, and other experiments, at least for me, lept into the existential.
So, the first time it happened, I was in the shower, soaping up, thinking about Heather Foley, and washing my butt. It felt good, so I kept lathering everything up down there. One thing leads to another and I stick my finger into my anus. Up to the second knuckle. It felt weird at first and my butt didn’t like it at all. Then I relaxed a bit and decided to go further, pushing my finger right in.
At this point, the intense physical sensation is inexplicably supplanted by the metaphysical. My body, as I know it, vanishes and is replaced by an ethereal form undulating in a bright space. The room is impossibly big, I can’t tell where it ends and where it begins. Windows in all directions, the hall is blindingly light, but somehow my eyes adjust. I drift toward one of the panes and push myself into the crackling white energy. A new dimension fills up my senses. I am an omniscient head, peering through the clouds of a world, unprepared for this visitation.
I was God here. There wasn’t any question. This new world was familiar and I wrapped myself in it, coiling the forests and jungles around my fingers and splashing my feet in the oceans. Life, in all its permutations, beat like a drum in my chest and the earth caked like cracked mud on my skin. Time evaporated, the universe revealed itself to me but it was too impossible to comprehend; my concentration burst. My godness sucked down the drain and back into the room where the light was now fading through the windows. I opened my eyes and pulled my finger out.
Nothing like the first time. I’ve pushed that butt button hundreds (thousands) of times since, but nothing has ever been quite like the maiden voyage. To be clear, it’s not a kink. It’s just a way for me to initiate interdimensional travel. A transportation system if you will. Every window is different. And in every dimension I am God. Some worlds know and love me, some fear me, and some are out to destroy me.
Last night, I was in the laundromat, waiting for my towels to dry. It was late and there was only one other guy in there folding his shirts. “Ever been to London?” he asks me. This guy is clearly just looking to have a filler conversation.
“No, I haven’t, you?” I ask him.
“I’m leaving tomorrow, never been,” he says.
“Ah cool—bringing some clean shirts,” I say, pointing out the obvious.
“Ya. Visiting some friends. They moved there last year,” he tells me and then goes on to describe the most boring details of their relationship, their careers, and the convoluted and unnecessary explanation for why he’s going there to see them.
All I can think about is how to escape. In the last year, I had taken to bringing a petroleum jelly chapstick with me in case I needed to lube up my finger for a quick getaway. The thought was tempting me as this guy droned on. Thankfully, he folded his last shirt, ended his monologue, and packed up to leave.
“Safe trip,” I said
“You too,” he said accidentally.
I checked my towels, they were almost dry. At this point, I’ve already got it in my head, I should go for a quick trip. See what my extra-dimensional subjects are up to. The whole thing usually takes no more than a couple of minutes. Time is weird like that. So I stand at the back, behind the row of washers, and lift one leg up on a bench. Greasing up my middle finger, I reach down the back of my sweats, get it in, and away I go.
I jump through a window and into a realm suddenly filled with song. They’re singing about me. I radiate and shower these citizens with warmth and comfort. They invite me to a feast, so I shrink myself down into their form and sit at a table with them. We are drinking and laughing and they ask me for a benediction. I can’t deny them. They are really wonderful beings. So I stand up and try to think of the right words. There is a long pause. Then a loud buzzer breaks my attention and vibrates into my ears like a fire alarm. I lose my balance. My trip is over. The world undimensionalizes and I’m on my ass on the floor of the laundromat. The dryer has stopped buzzing and my towels are done. My arm is twisted beneath me and my finger is throbbing and starting to swell. I tip over and pull it out gently. Things looked bad, but the only thing I was thinking about was how I left my followers hanging. I’d have to go back there tonight, when I got home, and finish my blessing. I’d see the doctor the next day about the finger.
Jon Toews is a designer, writer, musician living in Toronto in an attic surrounded by cats and synthesizers. He is an avid notetaker and can be seen frequently reporting on the weirdly wonderful world around him.