When you are an artiste living in a pandemic world, you must make do with an audience of one: your husband. But after a year of quarantining with this built-in admirer, something has shifted. Validation for your antics is at an all-time low. Every day, you observe his Zoom meetings, witnessing him bestow on his colleagues the kind of laser-focused attention he hasn’t extended to you in months. Every day, you wriggle into your skivvies and prepare, like a good 50s television wife, to serve him a sandwich, only to remember that you haven’t visited the grocery store in three weeks and therefore have at your disposal two freezer-burned chicken nuggets and a handful of water crackers left over from your theater troupe’s 2016 production of Godspell. Every day you stage-whisper to your reflection that you’re not just a person, you’re a performer, and you were put on this earth to entertain. And although crowds cannot yet assemble, by god, there are husbands – husbands that need their interest and man-loins continually reignited by the kindling that is your personality. You just need to think outside the box, like so:
1. While your husband is on a very important Zoom call, stand naked just out of frame and pretend to feed your bellybutton a Godspell biscuit. Extra sexy-points if you’ve drawn a little moustache in eyeliner-pencil over your navel. Now your tummy is a jolly French food critic.
2. Incorporate during sex-play the accents you’ve been practicing for your soon-to-take-off film career. No, no. Any Level One Stanislavsky trollop can mimic a Paresian chambermaid or an Irish shepherdess. Tonight, baby, you’re his pissy Newark diner crone. More coffee? Fuck off.
3. Restyle yourself as a Disney Princess by smearing your hand with peanut butter and then standing very still on the balcony until a squirrel approaches. Beckon to your husband, “Look, Husband, I am a kindhearted maiden brimming with song and light, and even the wildlife can sense my gentle — !” Have your husband drive you to the CVS Minute-Clinic for a tetanus shot.
4. Do a slow, sensual striptease to Ariana Grande’s “Dangerous Woman.” The 8-bit version.
5. Take to heart your husband’s passing comment that he’d love to have met you twenty years ago. Pop in your retainer and dab little Clearasil blobs on your nose. Talk of nothing but how you — a private-school student from suburban New Jersey — are exactly like Mimi from ‘RENT.’ Gosh, that’s a good musical, the lyrics of which you probably remember in their totality. Find out right now!
6. Peruse a Cosmo article about integrating foodstuffs into your hanky-panky. Scan the refrigerator for whipped cream, chocolate sauce, or honey. You have none of these things. You have the two chicken nuggets. Perfect. One for each nipple, baby, buc-buckaw.
7. Surprise your husband with a His and Hers cemetery plot. Ask him, just as a lark, which of you he thinks will be making use of it first. “Just curious,” you can say, offering him a cup of tea. Watch him drink the tea. Watch intently. Wait.
8. Offer up anal intercourse. When he begins to prod your posterior, gasp and wag your finger: what you meant, of course, was “extremely tidy sexplay.” Lay down newspapers and saran wrap for easy cleanup, for even your true-blue marital pal Missionary can wreak absolute havoc on the sheets.
9. Offer up 69-ing. When he readies himself for the engagement of oral pleasure, tsk-tsk at him for underappreciating yet again the allure of wordplay. Then fan out several AARP magazines on the coffee table and bellow for neighbor kids to get off your lawn.
10. Nothing brings a couple together like discovering that they’re going to have a baby. There are the pregnancy photo-shoots, the gender reveal parties, the swaddling of a newborn fresh out of its parent’s tummy. Don’t actually want a baby? Have a burrito! Take pictures of your bloated belly wreathed in ferns and small blossoms. Hold a party in which you reveal to your guests through a wildfire-triggering pyrotechnic display that IT’S A BURRITO! Rethink the swaddling step; there’s a line between entertainment and gaucheness, after all, and also your husband seems suddenly to be moving his sleep-things to the couch.