Plague Comforts: My Gross Friends and Their Gross Confessions

“I pooped during a conference call today.”

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An occasional series about stuff that’s getting us through a pandemic.

As Instagram tells it, we bake sourdough in silk pajamas. We’re taking deluxe baths and lighting up Diptyque candles. Tins of imported anchovies are the new beans—the ideal pairing for your freshly baked, gorgeous sourdough. All while exercising live, meditating in face masks, and chugging Moon Juice.

Meanwhile in my living room: PCOS-related cystic acne has started to make a furious comeback. My rotting brain is increasingly unable to pinpoint my last shower. Glasses of wine are turning into buckets that no longer do the trick. I’m struggling to write for a living while feeling like a boring disaster with nothing to say.

It was in this state last week that I received the following update from a group text:

“I pooped during a conference call today,” a friend, who will remain anonymous, divulged.

In normal times, such an unprompted, objectively gross disclosure would seem confusing. But these are not normal times. Within minutes, replies of solidarity trickled in.

“I’ve done that before when I thought I was gonna shit myself and prayed that the mute button actually works.”

“I haven’t wiped my butt in months. #BidetLife.” *

“Deodorant is a social construct.” 

I suddenly felt alive.

For millennials like me who spent the past decade conditioning ourselves with #goals that a post-recession fantasy life could be achieved, I aspire to the lack of aspiration in these refreshing, disgusting revelations. Here, there are no preening goals baked into coping mechanisms. No clout is being chased. My gross friends are not influencers looking to “expand their content cross-category and lean into performance-based compensation” to bring me life-affirming LOLs and sympathetic nods of #same. Here is, in every sense, the real shit.

We’re closing in on roughly a month of self-isolation. In that time, many of the comforts we’ve adopted have already been refracted through the lens of Instagram and Into the Gloss-esque guides that dramatically fail to read the room. With alarming speed, social media turned quarantine into a performance like anything else, eclipsing the real coping mechanisms and attention to mental health this moment needs. 

From here on out, then, I want nothing but disgusting, unhinged confessions to guide me through this pandemic. I don’t want acai bowls and sun-drenched makeshift yoga rooms hoping to inspire my dead soul into productivity. I want frank admissions of dumb and relatable things. I’ll return the favor with an update on my 1-inch leg hair challenge and we’ll both feel better together.

*This is a plastic, attachment bidet. Not a fancy one.

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