I recently spent the weekend in bed with a terrible stomach bug. At the stroke of midnight on Friday, I began puking my brains out, and what didn’t come up as vomit came out the other end. The next day, I thought the worst of it — the diarrhea — was over, but I was still happy when my boyfriend Nick showed up with supplies to calm my still-upset stomach. We hung out in bed, watching cartoons, while I drank ginger tea and tried to stop passing gas. One particularly gross fart sputtered forth and I sat very still.
“Baby, that one really stinks,” Nick said. “And it sounded wet.” I ran for the bathroom and was absolutely horrified by what I saw in my underwear. Nick knocked as I tried to scrub the poo and humiliation from my body.
“Are you OK?” he asked. “Did you poop on yourself?”
“No! Of course not! Get out!” I’m a terrible liar under pressure. Clean but still feeling dirty, I went back to the bedroom and put on fresh panties and pajamas pants, all without looking him in the eye.
“Well, did you?”
“Yes.” I hung my head in shame. “I’m so, so embarrassed. I’m sorry.”
“It’s OK,” Nick said. “You don’t have to be embarrassed in front of me.”
In the three years Nick and I have been together, we’ve gotten very close because, well, we’re not afraid to be gross. Nick was my first college hook-up after my long-distance relationship with my first boyfriend ended. I wanted things to be perfect. I put in work with a Swedish file after every shower and always had a neat, perfectly trimmed landing strip whenever we spent the night together. That semester, I was so poor that every few weeks, I bit down hard on a towel and did my own bikini waxes in the privacy of my tiny dorm room.
A few months into our almost-relationship, I realized Nick wasn’t the type of guy to freak out over grooming. How? He farted on me. We were lying in his top bunk, talking to his roommate on the bottom bunk before falling asleep and he let one rip. I was mid-sentence, his flatulence a very foul, very real taste in my mouth. As it turned out, Nick is the only person on this earth who lacks the ability to be embarrassed. He apologized for the smell, not the act itself, and five minutes later, rolled on top of me to fart again. We’ve been passing gas together ever since.
I suppose it only makes sense that toilet humor is front and center in our relationship. When we first got together, we were constantly ducking into the bathroom to mess around because he lived with seven of his closest friends. I’d go into the bathroom to wash my hands and emerge 15 minutes later looking disheveled, guilty and very pleased. Nick’s roommates patiently waited to shave while we giggled in the shower, taking turns washing each other. I loved to watch the body wash turn into perfect peaked foam on his chest hair. The first time he saw me in my powder blue shower cap, he doubled over laughing.
Bathroom time has been both romantic and enlightening. I learned my dad wasn’t the only man that sometimes urinated sitting down and Nick learned that loofahs chafe your lady parts so using one’s hands is much better.
During my final semester of college, it seemed like Nick came over every day for a poop and a plate of food. As I put the final touches on our meal, I’d realize I hadn’t heard a peep out of him for some time, and I’d open the door to find him absorbed in one of the magazines I stored on top of the toilet. I know for a fact he would never have started reading Esquire if they weren’t so conveniently stored. While I wait for my Nair to work on my mustache, we get into deep discussions about the articles he reads aloud from his usual spot on the toilet.
I have my mom to thank for my openness in the powder room because she often leaves the door open when she’s taking care of business. One night, we had a deep, difficult conversation about family as she sat on the toilet and I sat perched on the edge of the bathtub. It was only after I took a deep breath and wiped my eyes that she pointed out how ridiculous we must look, the two of us in the bathroom with only the nightlight on. We had a good, long laugh. These days, when life seems pretty unbearable and I use the bathroom to take the time to cry privately, Nick finds me anyway, dries my tears, and we talk about it.
In our three years together, I’ve let myself go. Women’s magazines say that’s the last thing you should do, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love that my boyfriend doesn’t mind that I’ve fallen off the wagon with my bikini waxes and hardly notices that I only shave my legs a few times a month during the winter. He notices when I look good, even in a normal T-shirt, and doesn’t treat me any differently when I don’t. Saturday mornings, we roll over and kiss for a while, despite our morning breath. And that, ladies? That’s love.