Photo: Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

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The Love in the Time of Poison Ivy Moment
I had a friend who went camping with her husband. They didn't pack well and had to use leaves instead of toilet paper. She chose the wrong leaf—the very wrong leaf. These embarrassing bodily mishaps happen (think: the pimple that somehow grows into some kind of giant face tumor). But when your partner laughs in a way that makes you try to laugh (even though you're too sick to) or says that, of course, this happens to everybody (when it doesn't happen to everybody) or knows to either stay just outside the bathroom door or stay right next to you on the tile floor, then you both experience one of world's rarest exchanges—one of you offering the exact right thing at the other's most mortifying physical hour and the other accepting that help despite that hour. At other times in life, there may nothing anyone can do or no possible way to let someone lend a hand. But in this one painful, never-to-be-discussed-in-public moment, you two are graced with the privilege of being a perfect fit: the comforting and the comforted.


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