I’d flown to Rome to find out if my long lost love was really ‘the one who got away.’ We’d always come back to each other and this trip would finally be the clincher– would we walk away married or just walk away? Since he was unemployed and living there with his family at 35, he had booked us into a—wait for it—-hostel.
I can do hostels. And I don’t think I’m materialistic. But for such a momentous occasion, I admit I was slightly disappointed. We talked awkwardly through dinner, and I figured we just needed the first few days to warm up to each other again.
Warm up we did.
I woke up to my possible future husband as he paced anxiously around the five-foot square of a hostel room. Even though he screamed for me not to move, I of course shifted my body towards him. That’s when I felt the warmth envelope my knee and the smell hijack my nostrils.
He had shit the bed. One side of my body was covered in warm poo. And my maybe-man was pacing around dressed in pajamas sewn from his own excrement.
And we were in a hostel.
There was no calling for new sheets, and the shower was a crusty spigot over the toilet. I knew I had to act fast or I would also lose control and add a pile of vomit to the situation. I gathered the heart-print sheets and threw them out the window. That’s right. I pitched those babies into the courtyard and watched the stained hearts sail to the snowy ground below.
Thankfully, the hostel had been prepared for this and had equipped the bed with one of those romantic plastic sheets. Perhaps bed shitting is a popular sport in Roman hostels. I don’t know. I took those stained hearts as a sign though, and I decided not to elope with this man that weekend. I promised him I wouldn’t tell anyone about the unfortunate affair.
But during a writing class in 2008, I stood up and told the tale to twelve other students. It felt so right to tell this story. A relief. An awakening. A release of something I’d been holding in (too many poo jokes to choose from right here). Corey Podell, my friend and a fellow comedian, insisted on reading after me. She stood up and read a piece about how SHE had woken up one morning in a pile of poo. She, unfortunately, did not have a plastic sheet on her bed and had to throw out her mattress. And her man didn’t fess up to it. Instead, he blamed it on her, told her she was gross, and left in a huff.
We’d both been shit on.
We knew this was a sign.
We started talking to other people and collecting poo stories. Everyone seems to have one, and with a bit of encouragement, they were all happy to share it. One friend shit himself on a drive during a cold Detroit winter and had to walk himself through an icy self-serve car wash. Another friend pooed in a French train and had to use his sock to wipe. I’ve shit myself twice while running. Recently.
And so it was. We went along collecting poo stories, on the road to making the biggest poo anthology in the history of man.
It was also a story I had been holding in for so long, and writing it transformed me. Writing it helped me let go of it. I realized then that poo stories are not so compelling because bodily functions are funny. Bodily functions are just funny because nobody talks about them. When society says we musn’t converse about something, it’s hard to ever say it out loud even though we desperately want to. Suicide, poo, fetishes, disease, obsession, whatever. If it’s something you wouldn’t normally share at tea time, it’s taboo. And the more taboo stories you hold inside you, the more you feel ‘wrong.’ Ashamed. Both take a toll and really fuck with your self-confidence. Nothing is wrong with anyone. We’re all fucked up. We all just need to talk about it more. The moment you let it out, it loses its taboo.
Corey and I decided to collect a variety of taboo stories instead. We put the word out around LA, and the submissions rushed in. Our inbox became a safe haven where taboos could congregate. People sent scandalous stories about smuggling drugs in maxi pads and fantasizing about orgies with boy scout troops and accidentally promoting lynching on a bus full of black people in DC. Nothing you’d normally hear at the dinner table.
We chose eight brave souls and invited people to hear them read their taboo tales aloud.
Last Thursday was the Taboo Tales debut show, and it couldn’t have gone better. Over 100 people filed into the theater. It takes an open mind to hear and share taboos, and we had the perfect crowd of magical, interested, and uninhibited strangers. The storytellers rocked that microphone. And we read anonymous taboos from the audience as well. Lots of adultery. Lots of masturbation. Holy calamity– I am still shocked at all the masturbation. So many people touch themselves on the freeway. Seriously. They should give out Driving While Masturbating tickets. In the end, we all felt closer. And relieved.
Taboo Tales is a live, more detailed, non-anonymous, adult version of Post Secret for people who don’t like to decorate cards. And it’s here to stay. People need to share. Once we all admit to picking our nose in the car, then we won’t have to hide it anymore.
It’s an LA show for now, but it’s also a movement. So, wherever you are, I encourage you to share your taboo tale. Maybe it’s about how you secretly think your son is ugly. Or how you didn’t feel anything when your mom died. Or how you love to smell your own farts. Whatevs. Make it something we can laugh about. Because, not to be a self-promotional whore or anything, but… humans are funny. Even under the most dire circumstances. If we could only just admit it, we’d all feel so much better. So get it out. Put it on paper. Let it free.
Send it to our safe haven email [firstname.lastname@example.org] and, no matter where you are, we’ll try to fit it into a stage show or our anthology. Yes, anthology! We’re gonna publish a book. A SERIES of books, each with a different taboo theme. And then what’s Snooki going to say? Well, she probably hasn’t heard of the word ‘anthology,’ but she’ll surely be, like, jealous.