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Washing Up by Laura Schwartz | CNF | #thesideshow

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March 11, 2017
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March 14, 2017

And then one day you find yourself with a bucket of soap and water, soaking sex toys and you find yourself wondering if the cheerleader uniform needs to be hand washed and whether drip drying will damage a pleather collar. You have a cup of tea, Barry’s, the brand your parents and grandmothers drink, which you drink hot despite the Singapore heat. Only one of the beribboned cheerleader hair ties can be located – a high ponytail instead of pigtails from now on. You pat dry the stainless steel anal jewels, pink for you, green for him, and the anal beads you haven’t used yet, the ones you are suspect about, the ones you haven’t tried and aren’t sure you want to but aren’t sure you won’t be convinced at some point. Three small vibrators for clit stimulation, two dick sized ones for penetration, plus a two-piece set that can be controlled remotely (if ten feet can be considered remote), which always seemed more novelty than useful. The controller is sticky with dust, though he’s used it often enough, trying to insert a sense of playfulness (though you’ve only ever seen it as a nuisance, a complicated unnecessary step). After soaking it in the water, you wonder if – unlike all the other toys built to withstand body fluids – it isn’t in fact waterproof. You hope it no longer works, that you can convince him to throw it away, though you know he’ll just come home one day with a new one, presenting it to you as a gift because that’s what it’s supposed to be, even if you’d rather he just pinned you down and fucked you. You find the purple rubber cock ring, which can now be returned to the rainbow on his dresser, and the cap to one of the Soda Stream bottles. You’re happy to see the strap in the ball gag is broken, since you’ve refused to wear it and know for a fact you won’t ever be convinced at some point. Now he just tosses the perforated red ball and you fetch like a good pet, but only when the collar is on. You notice by the 4:00pm light what you don’t in the dim dusks and blurred nights: the ball is cracked. You make a mental note to mouth it carefully in the future. The smell of the pink and cherry red silicone remind you of faceless, disposable childhood toys. You rub the large dildos clean, the hand movements familiar. You look for a plastic bag for the ancient garter belt, the old lube, and the “arousal balm”– never used and now leaking – and grab the yellow one your brother brought back from his last trip. Mabuhay! Duty Free. It’s more fun in the Philippines! You meant to put on music while you did this but you forgot and the computer dozed off. You wonder if he’ll be mad you cleaned, organized, discarded and consolidated the erotic paraphernalia, a collection nearly five years old, if he’ll be nervous over his lack of control over his home space, the way he was when you stuck up photos (of both of your families, shared friends). But it was his fault, for not snapping shut the chocolate mint lube, and it spread a sticky puddle throughout the drawer. But he works at an office full time like a normal person and you’re a writer who has yet to publish anything really big yet. So it falls to you, you with your open hours, you with your open heart, you with your open other things. You wouldn’t trust him to clean to your standards anyway. You remember a broken bottle of teriyaki sauce in your college dorm, your anger at his thinking a few swipes of a paper towel enough, the lingering smell. You like things well kept. He likes you well kept, the updraft beneath his masculinity. You give. You give because he gives and he loves you, and you love him for that. You hope you don’t love him only for that. You give because you keep him going and he keeps your lives going, and in this way, with your bucket of soap (bought with his money), sex toys set out to dry (bought with his money), you are as much a housewife as any poodle skirt with a skillet.

Born in Ireland, Laura Schwartz grew up in Tokyo, Singapore and New Jersey, before returning to live in Singapore with her husband in 2012. She has a B.A. in Japanese Studies from Bard College. She currently writes freelance for ‘The Wall Street Journal’ and the ‘Singapore American Newspaper’ about travel, expat life, Singapore culture and so forth.