I’ve had my fair share of strange and unusual boyfriends, including the guy with botched tattoos that showered literally four times a day for fear he would get into a car accident and the people in the ER would see his “dirty butthole.” His words, not mine. My words would be somewhere along the lines of, “what in the hell is wrong with you?” And, my actions were, in fact, to run very fast in the other direction.
However, I think the story behind a mysterious object in my apartment just might top the list of strange boyfriend behaviors. I present to you, The Tickle Tag:
This seemingly ordinary tag snagged from what appears to be a T-shirt of some kind has been pinned to our board-o-random shit on our TV entertainment center for as long as I’ve lived here. It’s surrounded by beach and kickball photos, a picture of a trio of disturbing dolls ripped from an IKEA magazine, a note from Whittah’s cousin expressing her love for after hours wrestling matches, a quote from a women’s magazine declaring that we will not drunk text our ex-boyfriends, a homemade birthday card from me with Whittah's face pasted over my boyfriend's face, who was sitting next to T-Pain in Las Vegas that reads, "T-Pain says: Happy Birthday, Shawty!" Just a note, my boyfriend helped me design and create this masterpiece...best birthday card ever...And, another gem of a quote plucked from a food mail order catalog that reads, “It’s a great chicken pie, I tell you,” by Oprah. Hilarious in its unremarkable quality, yet it still appeared in the magazine because Oprah said it. She could scratch her ass near a product and the company would take it as a compliment.
All the other items were fairly self-explanatory to me, but the tag was a mystery. It took me probably a year to inquire about its significance and why it was in our apartment. I would have never even dreamed the story that followed.
Apparently, one of Whittah’s friends, who has now become my friend, also has the unfortunate (or fortunate, depending on how much you like storytelling) ability to stumble upon strange men. Her now ex-boyfriend that she lived with had a bit of a sleeping problem, but instead of treating it with the occasional Tylenol PM, counting sheep or deep breathing exercises, he decided to try a more natural approach. He used this tag to tickle his face, and probably other things, to calm his jittery nerves and soothe himself to sleep. One could compare his attachment to this shirt tag to that of a security blanket as he kept it under his pillow and couldn’t fall asleep without its calming tickles.
I could just picture the scenario in my head: Boyfriend thrashing around in bed dramatically, unable to sleep. He whines to his girlfriend, "I need my tickles...NOW!" She obliges, reaching under the pillow and stroking his face with the tag while he drifts off to sleep...like sticking a pacifier in an infant's mouth.
Of course, I immediately shuddered from the heebie jeebies and said, “EW, I can’t believe I touched that thing! Why is it in my house?” As if it were covered in human excrement and crawling with spiders.
Ah, but the story wasn’t over. When our friend and Tickle Tag man broke up and she moved out, as a final “fuck you,” she snatched the man’s creepy form of Ambien out from under his pillow and triumphantly went along her merry way. Yes, she stole the sacred Tickle Tag. Apparently our apartment was the first stop on her way to a new life and it became the Tickle Tag’s new home, much to my dismay.
I guess we all have items in life that trigger memories from our past and remind us why we’ve moved on. For me, it’s seeing a stupid tattoo, for our friend, its The Tickle Tag. I’m not sure I’ll ever look at a shirt tag the same way again.