© Chris Courtney Photography
The fart that almost ended the marriage
My two favourite things are laughter and lust – each enhances the other and I love it when they go hand in hand.
My second husband (I’ve been married twice) and I had a great marriage. It was open and evolved as we wanted it to over time. My first marriage ended because I fell in love with a girl, so I refused to marry my second husband unless I could maintain my bi-sexuality. Just as important to me was how much we made each other laugh – which often came from absurd misunderstandings that in of themselves were funny.
On our first date in Los Angeles (we met doing a play on tour in Northern California), we stopped for gas (petrol) and while he was filling the tank, I leaned out of the window and provocatively said, ‘Don’t you find getting gas sexy?’ He blushed and agreed. It took us a while to figure out that I meant pumping gas (it’s probably a penis envy thing for me – putting the nozzle in the tank and pumping – even the language is sexual) but he thought I meant flatulence. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how he could have misconstrued what I was saying - or what he thought would make farting sexy. Little did I know then…
What I didn’t know was that he is lactose intolerant – which no one in Ireland seems to have and I’ve actually been told doesn’t exist here -but believe me the lactose struggle is real. I’ve lived through it with him.
I could live on cream. When asked about my favourite foods, I say, ‘white - white foods - are my favourites.’ Cream, ice cream (even though my favourite ice cream is blue), sour cream, whipped cream, cream cheese, even cottage cheese. I love white foods. My ex, Joe, used to look at me and wonder if anything green would ever pass my lips. I told him he could get his cock tattooed green if he was really worried, but he looked at me and said he was conflicted about having a wife who enjoyed blow jobs more the broccoli. I should mention he was a chef. Good food mattered to him. Good sex mattered to me. There were times when the only protein I got was from him.
My third year of university, we went to Catalina Island for Spring break. I’m a high school drop-out so I didn’t go to college until I was in my late 20’s. I had also just broken up with a beautiful – batshit nuts – German girl, named Monika, and I was in rehearsals for a show that wasn’t going well, and he thought it would be a good idea to get away.
Monika was 19, and I was 28 or 29. She was a bit of a lost soul and quite stunning and liked drawing attention to herself. Joe and I took her to dinner in West Hollywood once and she showed up in thigh high leather boots, a leather mini and a leather jacket. I don’t think she was wearing anything under the skirt or the jacket.
We decided to have some fun and went to the Pleasure Chest after dinner. (The Pleasure Chest is an infamous sex shop in West Hollywood). Monika decided she needed to buy some restraints for me and we played it up a bit in the store. She was stopping traffic anyway, so we decided to have some fun with it. While she was shackling me to a display shelf made of chrome bars, my husband leaned against the shop counter to watch.
My ex was 5’ 7” and looks like an elf. He was 7 years older than me and constantly getting carded when we would go out to drink. When he was 35, he was cast as a 17 year-old in an ABC movie of the week. I asked him once if he looked like sperm at 17 – because he always appeared to be half his age. This was a good thing for his career – he was making a lot of money as a stunt man for Disney when he wasn’t playing high school nerds or Puck in endless productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
When the shop clerk at the Pleasure Chest came up to my husband, he asked if he was with the blonde (Monika), and my husband said, ‘sort of.’ Taking the bate, the clerk asked if he was with the redhead (me), to which my husband again replied, ‘sort of.’ The clerk then got a bit aggravated, and said loudly, ‘You’re with both of them?! Dude, that’s not fair!’
He wasn’t really with both of us. Monika didn’t like being touched by men, so she’s let my husband watch us together, and occasionally she’d let him fuck me while I played with her. (To be honest, I liked it best when he watched. He could be distracting when he got involved.) But things fizzled with Monika, and then they got weird and then they got a little scary for my taste. She needed a lot of attention, and I can be very stingy about giving attention where I know it’s wanted or needed. So Monika just started showing up at the places she knew I would be. Then she started confronting me in public about my private life. It unsettled me completely so Joe took me to Catalina.
It was the night of the Oscars, and we decided to make a do of it. We got dressed up and went out to dinner. We both had lobster. Joe was born in a small town in upstate Vermont but had basically been raised in Maine. We spent our summers in Maine living on lobster (also white food). In Maine lobster is served with lemon but in California, lobster is served with drawn butter - but that didn't register with me. So I decided to reenact the scene from Flashdance and I went to town with my lobster, drawn butter on my lips, trying in vain to use my foot under the table – which was futile because my legs are just too short. At one point, I took my lobster and fed it to him – which was the fatal flaw of the evening.
We staggered back to our hotel room in a beautiful, Spanish style villa, and proceeded to indulge our carnal lusts. One of the things I loved about Joe was that he demanded I be naked whenever possible in his presence. I love being completely naked with a man in suit, and Joe always looked fantastic when he dressed for me. We were in that golden era of married life when all the veneer between two people is stripped away but the thrill is still alive and kicking. He had an amazing tongue and he was putting it to exceptional use when he stopped and looked up at me in what I can only describe as helpless panic.
Before I knew it, he had wrapped me in a blanket and pushed me out the door!! I was incensed. ‘What the hell are you doing??!!!’ And he shut the door in my face. Now I’m outside – and I mean outside - our door to the villa wasn’t to a hallway, it was to an open patio off the piazza of the villa and I wasn’t alone out there. I pounded on the door but realised that only drew more attention. When Joe emerged, he scuttled out of the room shutting the door behind him.
“What the hell is going on?” I demanded.
He looked at me helplessly again and just said, ‘Butter.’
I just burst out laughing until tears rolled down my face. Butter was Joe’s nemesis.
‘I’ve opened all the windows but give it a few minutes.’ He said as he backed away from me.
I tried to be the best wife on the planet, ‘It can’t be that bad. Give me the key.’
He shook his head like a guilty little boy, which always melted my stone-cold heart. But I demanded and he gave in, handing me the keys. I went in, and came straight back out.
I looked at him deadpan and said, ‘I’m done. That’s it. I want a divorce. That’s the fart that ends this marriage.’
At some point in this exchange, another couple walked by and we and they just kept completely silent as they passed. Once they were gone, Joe and I burst out laughing wondering what they must have thought of me in nothing but a blanket and Joe in suit arguing outside.
He looked at me and said, ‘Remember on our first date when you said that getting gas was sexy? I really thought you meant something like this, and I was sure I’d finally met the girl of my dreams.’
‘No!! This is NOT what I meant. It’s toxic in there! What in the world would make THAT sexy??!! I don’t even think there’s a fetish for that!’ I wasn’t really yelling. I was being emphatic for effect. The situation could have been so embarrassing for him, I had to make it funny or he might have been devistated.
When he looked at me as vulnerable as I’d ever seen him and asked, ‘Please, don’t leave me,’ I melted and stepped in to hug him, but he put his hand up, ‘I’m just going to stand over there downwind for a while,’ which brought another wave of hysterical laughter.
Of the 10 years we spent together, I remember that night most fondly. And even now that he’s very happily re-married, whenever I see him, we still laugh about the fart that almost ended our marriage.
There is a point in good relationships when all the things that have gone horribly wrong – not just the funny things but the true difficulties – bring people closer together. The fact that you can get through them together, that you each bring all of yourselves to those experiences that are yours. They are the wonderfully, and sometimes tragically, unique things that form lasting human bonds. They are the pearls of human existence that can only be forged through difficulty; and laughter and lust are the glue that keep you together.