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Guy Sparks Drama After Throwing Out His Girlfriend’s Umblical Cord That She Stored With Their Keepsakes

One man’s downplaying of a Native American tradition with roots going back millennia was at the center of a recent fight between his girlfriend and him.

The generations-old tradition, practiced even in modern times, involves what are called “Umbilical Fetishes” meaning a small beaded amulet in the likeness of an animal (often a lizard or turtle) or “Umbilical Pouches” meaning a decorated leather pouch.

As per the tradition, when a newborn child sheds their umbilical cord, the cord is put within the pouch. In some traditions another pouch is filled with hair. It was believed that two pouches served to confuse spirits from locating the vulnerable young one.

In other traditions, there is only the umbilical pouch which the child keeps for their entire lives.

In some tribes the mother would keep the pouches for all of her children and they would be buried with her. But as infant mortality and childhood death rates improved, most tribes adopted the practice of giving the umbilical fetish or pouch to the child.

All that heritage was lost on one man, Reddit’s very own Smellyuglypouch—as he dubbed himself on the site. His Native American girlfriend had one of those Umbilical Fetishes. When its smell bothered him, he quite literally tossed the old tradition aside.

Of course, his actions were poorly received by his girlfriend. When she left him, he turned to the “Am I the A**hole” AITA subReddit for some solace and, he hoped, assurance that his actions weren’t so bad.

He asked:

“AITA for throwing away my gf’s umbilical cord?”

His memory of the artifact was as matter-of-fact as could be. 

“Hi, my (34M[ale]) girlfriend (21F[emale]) of two years is Native American and she had this small, beaten up leather pouch.”

“It was about the size of a golf ball, and it was beaded but there were beads missing and thread exposed and the leather was stained and greasy with something. It was supposed to look like a turtle or a lizard or something, but it was so beaten that I was hard to tell.”

“The thing absolutely stunk. We had it in a box of keepsakes along with our photos and other things, and it made the box have a musty smell.”

When he discovered the finer details of the pouch—and the traditions behind it—he didn’t grow any more patient. 

“Imagine my horror when I asked her what the thing was, and she told me it was her umbilical cord?? It grossed me out and I thought she was joking, so I laughed.”

“She looked upset, so I asked if she was serious. She was.”

“I asked her why she had it, and she told me it was her people’s cultural practice to stop you from searching for things or something among other things. I thought the sentiment was nice, but it stunk and was hideous.”

“I understand that some people keep teeth and that sort of thing, but teeth don’t stink. And teeth aren’t kept in a strange little pouch.”

“The whole thing skeezed me out, so I put it back and left it alone.”

When the opportunity arose, he leaped at the chance to put some distance between himself and the pouch.

“But two weeks ago when she was sleeping, I was going through our things and wanted to scan an old photo. I opened our keepsake box and the wave of musty air hit me. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I hid the thing in a box in the basement.

“We went through our photos and things together (it was a lovely night, we did it over wine) and she didn’t even acknowledge that it was missing. I even asked her if she noticed anything gone from our stuff. She said she didn’t, and laughed.”

That laugh clearly gave him an added boost, as he took the removal process one step further. 

“So yesterday, I decided to rid us of it and put it in the trash. It went, and I could breathe a sigh of relief knowing my girlfriend’s actual entire mummified umbilical cord was where it should’ve been to begin with.”

And it didn’t take long for his maneuvers to be discovered and denounced.

“But today her mom called, and told her that she was willing to remake the pouch for her if she sent it. Oops…”

“She proceeded to tear apart our room looking for it, sobbing hysterically and not listening to any kind of reason… I’ll admit, I felt bad. Maybe I should’ve just left it alone, but why even keep such a thing?”

“I came clean and told her that I threw it away because I thought she wouldn’t notice.”

To defend himself, he invoked what he felt was an equivalent hardship he’d received. 

“She started screaming at me and said that it wasn’t my right to throw her things away. I reminded her of when she threw my favorite shirt away just because it had a hole and a grease stain.

“She told me it wasn’t the same thing, but isn’t it? They were both items kept purely out of sentimentality. At least my shirt wasn’t making our photos smell musty.”

His argument strategy was absolutely not successful. 

“She was suddenly calm, and I thought she was willing to talk about it, but she started packing her stuff. I begged her to stay but she took her car and her stuff and left. I don’t know where she went, or if she’ll be back, but I’m so devastated.”

When she moved beyond mere words and acted on the anger, he found himself in a more reflective state of mind.

“It was such a small and dumb thing to split us up over, but I do regret it.”

“Am I the a**hole?”

The Reddit community was not inclined to give the support and solace he desired.

“YTA,” short for “You’re the A**hole,” was a common preface to the comments beneath his post. 

Some Indigenous Reddit Users were eager to offer their particularly relevant take. 

“YTA! I’m indigenous, my tribe is Hunkpati Dakota, and our people save the umbilical cord too. We put them in beaded pouches and keep them OUR WHOLE LIVES and they’re supposed to be buried with us. They’re extremely important, and often times the pouch is made and beaded painstakingly by the person’s mother.”

“You had no right to throw it away. Why was putting it in the basement not enough for you? Why wouldn’t you have told her you didn’t like it and/or asked her to put it someplace else or in something else? You’re definitely the a**hole.” — doomtaxi

“YTA. That was NEVER your call to make. If it stank so bad, let her know and she could have moved it elsewhere, somewhere you wouldn’t have to be exposed to it; I am sure she would’ve understood that!!”

“But no, instead, you were immature, out of line, and downright disgusting in your behavior. You have communication issues if you can’t handle this by bringing it up verbally and trying to reach a compromise via civil discussion about it.”

“I sincerely hope she doesn’t come back after this. It might be nothing to you, but that doesn’t surprise me at all; we indigenous are all too familiar — and quite fed up with — our sacred culture being regarded as meaningless by people who refuse to take us seriously.” — MahBoiiiiiiii

“YTA. As a Native American I would like to tell you that you are absolutely vile. How dare you? You compare our culture to a shirt, that’s disgusting. I hope she doesn’t come back. You didn’t even try to understand the significance behind it. She definitely dodged a bullet.” — Katie_G1089

Many especially took issue with his T-Shirt argument. 

“YTA. A biiiiig giant a**hole. Comparing a tshirt to an irreplaceable, hugely significant, cultural keepsake that she’s had literally her entire life… is reprehensible. It’s disgusting.” — 6data

“YTA – she’s not coming back. You’re an intentionally culturally insensitive a**hole. She explained why and how it was important to her, and you threw it away.”

“It is completely irreplaceable, and not remotely like a shirt. I don’t understand how that’s not obvious. It has spiritual and cultural meaning, to compare it to an old shirt just proves how insensitive you’re being.”

“I almost guarantee she’s ghosting your a**, as you deserve.” — Alert-Potato

“Dude, you’re 34? You’re acting like a child. Her culturally significant item was absolutely not the same as a shirt you liked.”

“You knew it meant a lot to her and purposely threw it away to benefit yourself. You knew she’d be upset, and the only reason you’re posting this is because you’re so delusional that you truly believe you did nothing wrong.” 

“YTA all the way.”  — master-c**t

“Dude…YTA. An ignorant, backwards, clueless [a**hole]. Of course she left you. She’s not coming back, unless to get the rest of her stuff.”

“You threw away a religious and familial heirloom. An important piece of her spiritual well-being. No it is not the same as a f**king t-shirt.”

“If you aren’t prepared to handle other people’s cultures, don’t date people from different cultures.” — BroadElderberry

“YTA- No that is not even remotely the same thing and if you did this as PAYBACK you’re even more of an [a**hole].” — ItsNotFunny420

“YTA. Holy sh*t are you the a**hole here. That level of disregard for a person isn’t something you can come back from.”

“It never occurred to you to suggest keeping it somewhere else? Maybe in a Ziploc bag or Tupperware?” — cyberjellyfish

In response to all the criticism, he added a repentant edit to the end of the original post:

“All these comments are making me feel like complete shit. The last time we fought, she came back after an hour. She isn’t back yet, and it’s starting to take a toll.”

“She’s the one that makes dinner, cleans, comforts me. She’s always there for me. The notion that I might spend tonight alone is destroying me. She’s always been perfect to me, and I do things like this that upset her.”

“Maybe I AM the a**hole…. I’m sorry guys. I’ve been calling her and calling her and she won’t answer. I just want to apologize and get her back. I want her to know how much she means to me.”

But, like his T-Shirt argument, that didn’t help his case. People laid into him about his motives for wanting her to return. 

“Dear god, even with him realizing he is the a**, he still is terrible. You miss her because she cleans and cooks for YOU?”

“What could she possibly miss about you? If you care at all, you need to leave her and never speak to her again so she can be at peace without your shi**iness stinking up her life.” — Anansithecat

“Dude, stop. You want her back because she cooks and cleans and takes care of you, and you don’t want to be alone tonight. These are not good reasons for a relationship.”

“It’s not that you admire her heart, she makes you want to be a better person, or one single mention of what you like to do for her. Your reasons are entirely, literally selfish. Hire a housekeeper and a hooker, and you’ve covered her duties.” — Greeneyestexas

The onslaught did eventually move him to an actual pragmatic solution, however.

His final edit to the post shared some positive news. 

“I couldn’t get ahold of her mom, but I have been on the phone with the sanitation department for our city, and they put me on hold for 45 minutes looking through the trash from our neighborhood. I barely caught them, and it took a lot of pleading and convincing but they were kind.”

“They managed to find the pouch, and I’ll have to pay a huge recovery fee, but that’s all worth it. They agreed to let me pick it up tomorrow.”

“If I can get ahold of my girlfriend, hopefully she’ll come back to me and things can be alright. I’ll never touch her stuff again if it means she’ll stay with me.”

In response, Redditors had a few stern words about what he should expect when he presents the saved pouch. 

“With that last update, put it in the mail. You need to carefully package it, as if it were a priceless artifact, and pay for shipping with tracking, insurance, and signature required. All the bells and whistles. Send it to her mom, that’s where she’s going.”

“And again, she’s not coming back. The calm as she packed tells all, she’s done. She’s past mad, sad, upset, and devastated, she’s done. She has nothing left to give to the relationship. She isn’t fighting because she doesn’t consider you worth fighting with or for.”

“She has nothing to offer you, because by not respecting the culture she holds dear, that’s part of who she is, you didn’t respect her as a person.” — Alert-Potato

“YTA: I’m Native and I’m honestly disgusted with your behavior.”

“I saw you got her pouch back. Give it back to her with no strings and respect her decision. You would be lucky if she was ever nice to you again.” — CancerousKinder

The entire sequence of events, and the Reddit community’s response, has proved an important truth. An internet forum is not a shoe-in place to go for unconditional support when you do a reprehensible thing.

But maybe it will give you the incentive you need to do the right thing.

He asked for honest judgment and he got it. Hopefully now he will give her back what belongs to her without using it as leverage or blackmail to get her to come back to him.

Written by Eric Spring

Eric Spring lives in New York City. He has poor vision and cooks a good egg. Most of his money is spent on live music and produce. He usually wears plain, solid color sweatshirts without hoods because he assumes loud patterns make people expect something big. Typically, he'll bypass a handshake and go straight for the hug.