There is a member of our household who mixes ketchup, Miracle Whip, and seasoned salt (on purpose) to produce a “dip” for potato chips. This obviously confused person considers the abomination to be a particularly special treat, one so precious that not a single drop shall ever be allowed to go to waste—including the glob that plopped onto the “gourmand’s” open-toed shoe in our kitchen this evening. That exact shoe (and its mate) had been worn only a few hours earlier on the deck of a public swimming pool in Columbia that had to be hastily evacuated and “treated” for 45 minutes after a young patron defiled the waters with an offering to the gods of a partially-digested poolside meal. Go ahead and let the horror of this scenario sink in for a moment, if you will. I’ll wait.

Travis Naughton

Welcome back. I’m sure you have some questions. I shall try to answer them for you now. No, I did not dip so much as a pinkie toe in that befouled pool. Yes, the wearer of the porous shoes did. No, I did not eat any of the chips and dip. Yes, its creator did—including the glob off the top of the tainted shoe. No, I am not especially surprised by this abhorrent behavior. Yes, I love my wife anyway.

The one true key to a having a successful marriage is being able to overlook how disgusting one’s spouse (and all human beings) can be. I have a friend, (his nickname is Chewbacca), whose wife shaves his back hair for him. David Sedaris, one of my favorite writers, once penned an unforgettable and hilarious essay about having a boil on his backside that his partner Hugh had to lance with a sharp instrument. That’s love, folks. Stomach-turning love.

I’m no better than anyone else. I know I’m gross. When Bethany and I started dating, there wasn’t a nail-clipper or a tissue box to be found in my apartment. I guess my boyish good looks and wily charms were enough to overcome any deficiencies I may have had in the hygiene department. Truthfully, I have no idea why Bethany didn’t run away screaming when she started getting to know the real me. Perhaps she was afraid she’d never find another man who could tolerate being with someone who so willfully blasphemed against the gods of snack foods by breaking the commandment against condiment abuse.

Contrary to the oft-repeated movie quote, “Loving means never having to say you’re sorry,” love really means never having to say you’re sorry for being a human being. People are filthy, germ-infested creatures. Our bodies are hosts to countless bacteria, viruses, fungi, yeasts, and even the occasional worm. We wear the skins of dead animals as clothing, we swim in bodies of water laden with toxic microbes, and at least one of us eats ketchup and Miracle Whip off the top of her pool shoes. Yet inexplicably, people who are in love can barely keep their hands off one another.

Bethany and I are still very much in love, even after living with each other’s gross habits for nearly a quarter-century, and we still have a hard time keeping our hands to ourselves. And despite my absolute certainty that she is infected with public pool cooties, I plan on passionately kissing my wife goodnight later this evening. After she brushes her teeth. Seven times.