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October 25, 2008

The Green Penis

My boyfriend dyed his penis green for me.

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To answer the recurring questions I've been asked as I've told this story over the years: No, I didn't request it. No, I didn't ask him why. No, green is not my favorite color. He used paper towels saturated in food coloring. I can't tell you how long it remained green — we happened to break up on the same day as the Big Reveal.

Outrageous, right? I called a friend as soon as he left and told her what had happened. She told her roommate, who mentioned it to a friend, and before I knew it, people would beg me to tell my "Kermit dick" yarn. Once a stranger at a party even started telling me this "crazy story" about "some guy who dyed his penis green." The tale, which still gets a laugh, had come full circle.

It's good to be able to chuckle at the past; it's the reward we're promised when we find out our boyfriend is wanted in six states, or maintains an active match.com profile while we're together, or dyes his penis green. But my willingness to turn our absurd ending into a Sex and the City episode — telling the story in the same rehearsed words, pausing for laughs in the same places every time — was starting to nag at me.

Sure, the dyeing decision was odd, but it was in keeping with the kinds of quirky things my boyfriend did — like picking my lock one day and sneaking into my home to leave romantic notes and loaves of French bread and cheese. Another time, he invited me out for a "goldfish date," which, had I agreed to it, would have involved releasing hundreds of goldfish into local fountains. Anybody can buy a bouquet of flowers; his ideas took effort.

Ultimately, I realized our relationship, once full of billowy passion that both consumed and drained me, had been reduced to a punch line. It robbed that intense period of its gravitas — he'd been my first lover, the first person I tried to take care of, the first guy who implied he could see a future with me.

He and I loosely kept in touch for years after we broke up. At one point the green incident popped up in conversation, and I finally asked him why he did it. "I thought you'd like it," he said.

In retrospect, I think I did.

Autumn Whitefield-Madrano has written for Self, Ms., and Playboy.


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