We're a judgmental sort of animal, always sizing each other up and deciding we're better than our neighbor because we ever so slightly part our cheeks to fart, while they do it the peasant way into a burlap sack and gather the children around it for warmth at night in their hovels. Nothing gives us more of a sense of superiority than discovering someone else's terrible habit and proudly acknowledging it's not something we do. Smoking is the latest social pariah that fits in here, but there are other more insidious habits that no one ever wants to admit to, and if we ever caught someone doing them we'd mock them mercilessly, all the while being shamefully blind to the hypocrisy of admitting just how common these habits are. Because these things are commonplace, creepily so. Admit it, you do at least one.
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You look at the loathsome snail trail left behind on the paper after wiping. I know you do. You've probably never discussed it with anyone, I sure as hell haven't, but we all do it and none of us know why, because it basically sounds like the most awful thing we can do while alone and in the bathroom that doesn't involve tools and photos of relatives.
Any time you make a bold claim like "Everyone inspects their ass wipings," you leave yourself open to that negative sort of critic who must comment on an article like this and say "Nay, Felix, you loveable scamp, I poop in utter sensory deprivation where I neither hear nor see nor smell a thing. You are foolish. Also my blind Uncle Sal has never looked."
"I can't see a thing, but it smells like shit."
Blindness aside, the fact that this question has been asked literally tens of thousands of times on Yahoo Answers indicates to me that, yes, enough people look at the paper after icing the yule log that you're likely in the minority if you don't. You're actually the weirdo, No-Looker. How's that make you feel?
What's everyone looking for in there? That's the real question. For my part, I just want to make sure my guts didn't fall out and nothing sci-fi related is occurring. If I'm free of blood, tentacles, and gold bullion, my day can proceed as planned and I'm pretty pleased with myself. And I must admit, once or twice in my life I've actually paused and thought "What the hell caused that to happen?" when something seemed askew, usually as it relates to hue. For what it's worth, I rarely ever delve too deeply into research after the initial shock of some kind of festive green or marmalade orange disaster; I just assume I probably need to eat a more balanced diet and then go watch Netflix. Rob Delaney has a comedy special on there, you should watch it. Then wipe.
Ah, the sniff test. On some level you know if you're clean, and yet, every so often, you feel the need to push the envelope and maybe skip a shower or two. And that's all fine and good -- I'm pretty sure our ancestors only bathed twice a year on the equinox -- but that au naturel thing gets messed up when you're forced into a social situation and you immediately become terribly self-conscious about the musk you're likely producing. So you do what we all do: casually turn your head to the side, pretend to scratch or straighten your hair, and bury a nose in your armpit for that quick two-second draft. Do you smell like something even a buffalo wouldn't love? Maybe.
I love you like I love buffalo hump.
This is the sort of thing hobos are supposed to be doing, not civilized beings with adequate access to soap, water, and shame. Every time this happens, it's a silent acknowledgment that you have no faith in your own hygiene and you're not 100 percent sure you're even fit to be loose in public.
Alternately, my research has led me to conclude that a small number of pit sniffers do this not because they're fearful of a Chernobyl-level stank leak, but because they enjoy their own stank and can't think of a more suitable method of getting a taste of it. How do strangers address those who seek the succor of Yahoo Answers to explain their penchant for pit sniffing? With shit like this: "It's fine to be attracted to your own odor yes it's weird but who cares?! i sometimes like the smell of my farts ... but it depends what food caused the pungent but thrilling smell." Pungent but Thrilling is the title of one of my least favorite pornos.
There's no need to feel self-conscious if you sniff your own pits. You're joining the age-old quest to figure out how ripe you are, and I'm pretty sure even monkeys do that.
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I remember very clearly the first time I saw someone picking away at their teeth like a tiny dwarf hunting for precious jewels. It was my grandfather, and we'd had a rare family get-together that included a roast beef. After we'd finished, Pop Pop Clay (that's what no one ever called him until just now) busted out this Civil War era implement of unhygienic fuck you-ery that I later learned was a toothpick on one side and an ear pick on the other for some god-awful reason and proceeded to dig out smaller roasts from between his long-neglected corn kernel teeth and then eat the bits he unearthed. I watched as one watches a train wreck, or an impromptu autopsy, adrift somewhere between revulsion and transcendental bafflement.
Since that time, I've run afoul of a handful of tooth pickers who, for whatever reason, are not attaining the required nutrients to sustain themselves via their meal alone and seem to require the extra nutritional boost that errant flesh bits and plaque must provide. I can say without hyperbole that few things disgust me more in life, and if the most beautiful woman I had ever seen started doing it, I'd sooner put my penis through a jagged hole in the side of a rusty Third World dumpster than touch her, but that's my own bugaboo to deal with.
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I put this pic of Joanna Angel here to make up for the imagery conjured up in the last paragraph. I want to be her friend.
Yahoo Answers provided a cornucopia of insight into this issue as well, with hundreds of thousands of relevant results, all of which are terrible in every way. Why does anyone need to discuss this issue with strangers anyway? Especially when you ask if it's OK to eat your plaque and you're met with insightful answers like "plague is the waste left over from the bacteria that eat the food particles on ur teeth so technically ur eating bacteria poo." Neil deGrasse Tyson didn't sign his name to that post, but it's pretty clearly him.