This is an essay that will be included in my hilarious essay collection, "This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things." Click here to support this project.
Mel and I had been married about six years when I developed a large zit between my right butt cheek and upper leg. It started out as an irritation, but slowly grew into something so painful that I had to really think twice before sitting down. I was in graduate school at the time, and most of my days were spent sitting on hard wooden desk chairs that were normally uncomfortable, but with this white headed and swollen zit below my butt, graduate classes were intolerable.
I tried to pop it several times myself, but couldn’t get two fingers on it. The angle was always wrong. For several days I simply hoped it would go away, but instead it just got bigger. Once it got too painful, I asked my wife if she’d have a look at it. I really avoided this for some time, but I honestly didn’t know how I was going to last another day with the stupid thing.
It was evening, around 9:30 at night. We only had two kids at the time, Tristan and Norah, and both were in bed.
Mel was in blue pajama bottoms and a black t-shirt with roses on it. Her hair was pulled back and she was wearing glasses. She was standing in the living room of the small Minnesota townhome we were renting, while I was sitting on the sofa at a strange angle, one cheek on the cushion, the other off, grunting a little with discomfort.
Mel’s hands were on her hips.
“Are you asking me to pop a zit on your butt?” Mel asked.
I put up my one hand, and said, “No, no. I just want you to have a look at it. Make sure it’s not infected, or perhaps a bug of some kind living inside my skin. It’s really painful. Now, if you happen to look at it and decide that it’s something you could, with your skill set, handle yourself, I would be even more in love with you.”
As I spoke, I thought I was being clever. I thought I was being sly and charming. I smiled, expecting Mel to smile back, but she didn’t. She was no fool. She knew that I was asking her to pop a butt zit, which has to be the worst kind of zit imaginable. However, I didn’t really feel right about asking her directly to do it, so I was trying to beat around the bush.
Before I finally came to Mel with the problem, I’d tried to come up with alternatives. I tried a few kitchen utensils and an old coat hanger. I considered going to the doctor, or even having one of the kids do it. But a doctor visit seemed a bit extreme, and costly, and I didn’t want to damage the kids for life by asking them to pop my butt zit. I also didn’t have much confidence in the ability of their tender little hands. Coming to my wife with this problem really was a last resort. In a lot of ways it made me feel like a failure. Like I couldn’t handle something so simple, or just tough it out until the stupid thing healed on its own.
“Yeah… that’s what you are asking,” Mel said. Her voice was one of love and compassion. It had a tone of reluctant willingness that showed she would do this, not because she wanted to, but because she loved me.
“Drop your pants,” she said.
I stood in the living room, pants around my ankles, my wife of six years hunching down, glasses hiked up, and examining a zit on my butt. She mentioned that the lighting was bad, and as she did, I wondered if this was a deal breaker. If I’d gone too far. If she’d see this as a reason to now find me repulsive. To never have sex with me again because all she could think about when she thought about me was my butt zit.
“Holly cow,” Mel said. “How have you been walking? It’s the size of a silver dollar.”
“I know,” I said. “It’s been horrible. I’m worried it’s going to take over my body.”
Mel let out a deep breath, reached in with two fingers, and with a little bit of pressure, it was all over.
“Ugh…” she said. “I hope you realize how much I love you.”
This was said with a little sarcasm and frustration, I couldn’t help but think of the situation and realize that she did, indeed, love me. Marriage tends to bring about extreme situations where true love and devotion can be tested. In real life, these moments are not always glorious. They are not always a moment of heroics or bravery, but rather moments where one partner does something really unfortunate in hopes of saving the other pain.
I let out a sigh of relief. “You are the most amazing person I know. Yes, I love you.”
Mel went into the bathroom to wash her hands while I got myself dressed.
“I’m going to need a doughnut… or something,” she said. “I need something sweet to help me forget about this.”
“I’ll run to the store,” I said.
You would also enjoy, Parenting is About Sharing The Load: no pun intended
Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress, and an angry baby girl. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His work has been featured in Good Morning America, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, Fast Company, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Photo by Lucinda Higley