In any given group social gathering, a conversational lull is bound to occur. Someone in the group pulls a new topic out of his/her butt and steers the conversation in a totally different direction. I feel like I always end up being that person. Lately I’ve gotten in the habit of reinvigorating dying conversations by using the same old segue: showing everyone in the group a picture of my husband Ryan’s taint. By showing everyone in the group a picture of my husband Ryan’s taint, I help establish that we’re on the same page and share common goals and dreams. That’s what Ryan’s taint does to people. It’s the glue. It’s the tie that binds. It’s like Xanax.
I know what you’re thinking! You’re probably thinking to yourselves, Wow, it’s so inappropriate and abusive of her to violate her husband like that.
But let me be clear: Ryan is fully clothed in the photograph. He’s lying on the couch with his cat Naomi on his stomach. His legs are propped up in the shape of a V, and her tail delicately flows over his butt crack and taint, which have created a rivulet of sorts. They look extremely comfortable and are probably watching an episode of The Waltons.
At a bridal shower I hosted, the picture of Ryan’s taint made one girl so relaxed that she rushed home, snapped a photo of her own cat’s tail splayed across her taint, and texted it to me. Which gave my friend Carrie and me the idea to solicit submissions of pictures of people’s cat’s tails stretched across their taints, select the top 12, and assemble a 2015 calendar. I have to give Carrie credit for coming up with a badass title for the calendar: ’Taint Just another Cat Calendar.
When I show people the picture of Ryan’s taint, I like to zoom in on it and ignite a second round of laughter, all while Ryan frowns within earshot. Ryan is considerate and never would humiliate me in public, so he always waits until we get home to scold me. The last time I did this he became enraged.
“Quit showing people that picture of my taint! I’m tired of it!” he yelled and waved his arms.
“But your taint puts people at ease!” I argued back. “What’s the problem?”
“No it doesn’t! That’s bullshit!” he screamed. “The next time you show people that picture of my taint, I’m going to pull out the photo of you napping on my parents’ sofa making a super frowny face!”
“You wouldn’t! You wouldn’t dare,” I hissed. “That’s low. That’s lowww.”
“Watch me,” he snapped back. “The threat is real.”
Now that I think about it, I cope with my social anxiety by mortifying my husband a lot. It’s a bad habit.
For example, we went to a fire pit at some friends’ house, and I didn’t know a lot of people. I felt like I should break the ice by interrupting people’s private conversations and yelling, “Hey everybody! I’m Bobbin, and this is my husband Ryan. We had sex in my childhood bed last night. It was hot because we had to be quiet, and it provided a much needed change of scenery and pace.”
The people standing around the fire pit reacted to my story in different ways. One group of people who obviously were fellow married couples nodded in understanding; a second group of people laughed and reinforced their intention to remain single for life; and a third group of people ignored me and continued toasting their marshmallows.
I got in trouble when we got home. I end up in the doghouse a lot.
I’m a mature and deeply reflective person, so I admit that I have become a slave to this unattractive habit.
Perhaps worst of all I recently gave some of our close friends the play by play of a fight Ryan and I got in on the night of our first wedding anniversary.
We went to a nice dinner, and when we got home I took a picture of the thawed top layer of our wedding cake. I Instagrammed the picture and naturally used the hashtag “#explosivediarrhea.” I clicked on the hashtag, which brought up some pretty gross images of gas station commodes and plates of chili dogs. By this time Ryan had retreated to the living room and started playing his favorite He-Man game on his iPhone. He’d been accumulating enough points for weeks to graduate to Battlecat status. But I was in a goofy mood and couldn’t stop guffawing and shoving pictures of explosive diarrhea in his face.
“Be quiet! You’re so rude! Leave me alone!” Ryan screamed. It really hurt my feelings, so I shut down, sat on the other sofa, and read a book.
Then Ryan had the nerve to fart.
“Oh no!” I shouted. “You can’t do that! You can’t tell me to be quiet and then fart like that, you hypocrite.”
I conducted a poll amongst our friends to gauge whether they agreed that Ryan’s fart indeed displayed hypocrisy.
In the distance Ryan mouthed “Please stop now, please stop now” and imitated Uncle Joey’s popular gesture from the TV show Full House by signing “Cut. It. Out.” in slow motion.
But I didn’t cut it out.
When we got home Ryan punished me by undressing and putting his butthole in my face.
Ryan’s butthole has the opposite effect on me from his taint. Ryan’s butthole frightens me and brings me to silence. Ryan’s butthole is our safe word.
“I told you you’d better be good,” he bent over, pulling his butt cheeks apart.
“Okay, okay, I’ll be good, I’ll be good!” I cowered.
While I still experience PTSD from Ryan’s disciplinary butthole strategies, I realize what he did was necessary. It’s one thing to admit I have a bad habit, but another thing entirely to do something about it and achieve full self-actualization.
I’ve compiled a list of “safe” topics I can use as segues when the conversation begins to die in group settings. The topics are tame and non-polarizing, but here’s the kicker: they don’t reference Ryan’s genitalia. Which has been hard for me. Here’s my list so far:
- Jeff Clark
- The Oxford Comma
- Reverse racism
- Attachment parenting
- Who has and hasn’t had HPV
By breaking my bad habit of using Ryan’s taint as a conversational crutch, I will reach social nirvana. If you run into me, feel free to chat me up so I can practice and demonstrate my progress. Maybe we can talk about the weather.
Illustration by Joe Karg.