(This essay is several years old and refers to my very patient and forgiving ex-wife. Enjoy.)
THERE ARE FEW THINGS as near and dear to a man as the subject of reproduction. In particular, the tools he uses for the purpose of reproduction. We learn as boys that they are not toys to be put on display at a dinner gathering. We discover in the most alarming way that they are delicate, and the merest injury will cause a disproportionate amount of pain. The advantages of the arrangement seems dubious at best – they get in the way, are sensitive to misplacement of the undergarments, etc… what good are they, really?
This perspective is modified somewhat in the teenage years, as it is discovered that there are indeed compensations for the otherwise noted shortcomings. These bring about a new set of complications, but they are generally ignored in favor of creativity and experimentation, not unlike an artist finding a new brush who sets about painting every surface he finds. Subsequently, an alarmed property owner may take issue with his muse. We thus learn that discretion may be useful in our efforts.
Eventually, a young man such as myself will find a lovely girl, and wishing for no other canvas to inspire him, he marries her. Long are the days and nights of creativity, until it is revealed that there is indeed another perspective in play. Specifically, the wife’s desire to avoid pregnancy. So it came to be, that after 2 years of marital bliss, the missus and myself were jolted from our rhapsody of lovemaking by a vision of dirty diapers, late-night feedings, and vomiting. After some frank discussions, we agreed that while childbirth and child rearing were noble and honorable roles, they were ones we wished to avoid.
Having borne the burden of contraception for the previous two years, I felt it would be asking too much for my beloved to continue in this manner. Permanent birth control being much more invasive and difficult in women, it seemed sensible that I would volunteer. Having helped with the raising of many nephews and nieces, I was also quite certain that I had no paternal proclivities. It was decided; a two week cooling off period to allow for a changing of minds, a call to a urologist, and then — snip, snip!
After soliciting some advice from male friends, and making a few calls, I found a suitable doctor with impeccable credentials. He specialized in the latest technique, even teaching it at one point. I made an appointment for a screening.
I arrived without incident, only slightly nervous about the prospect of having to reveal myself to a gentlemen whom I had only previously spoken to on the phone. I was also concerned about the presence of many nurses in his office, all of whom had subtle, Mona Lisa smiles. Nevertheless, I persevered, and read bad lounge magazines with quiet resolve.
When called to the waiting room, I felt slightly numb, but plodded in and sat on the examining table. The doctor then entered, and I was quickly put at ease. He was a slightly built fellow, close to my age, but wore a neatly trimmed beard, which lent him an air of authority. He had a calm and gentle voice as well, and he smiled a good deal. ‘A man who enjoys his work,’ I thought.
We chatted about the procedure, which I had previously seen on the Surgery Channel. He explained some of the particulars in detail and took down my history. After ensuring that all other items had been dealt with, he told me he would like to examine me to ensure there were no anomalies present. This seemed reasonable, and I nervously dropped my pants.
It was then I knew all would be well. I was pleased to discover that my doctor, with whom I was placing so much trust, had warm hands, and a gentle touch to match his gentle voice. I had nothing to fear — examine away!
Upon concluding his exam, Doctor Warm Hands instructed me to see the receptionist for an appointment, which I did.
I returned in a week, still slightly nervous, although now I was concerned more about pain and bleeding than embarrassment. In the intervening week, I had been given much advice from the aforementioned male friends, the best of which was this; that upon completion of the surgery, I should stop at a convenience store and purchase a six-pak of ice-cold beer. Upon returning home, place myself in a recliner, and position the beverage snugly between my legs. Consume them, working from the outside in. I was dubious of this advice.
The nurse called me in, and instructed me to disrobe and put on a surgical gown backwards, the exposure to be frontal, and intentional. After doing so, Doctor Warm Hands entered, in proper surgical attire, and with a sunny mood. I again felt at ease. He prepared the area in which he was to begin his efforts, first by a small amount of shaving, then cleaning, and finally by anesthetizing. Finishing this, he put on his glasses, and set to work, chatting all the while on topical subjects.
Doctor: “So, we’re going to use this lancet to make a tiny incision” (he does) “and now I’m going to excise your vas” (he holds a tiny gaffe and begins to fish around for these) “By the way, did you happen to see any of the film festival this weekend?”
Myself: “The one in Chapel Hill? No I’m afraid I missed it. Was it good?”
Doctor: “Oh, it was excellent! There were a few homophobes protesting, but all-in-all, it was a great time.”
Now, it is a curious thing indeed, but I had not previously considered the sexual orientation of my doctor. Mulling it over at that moment, and recalling that it was the NC Gay and Lesbian Film festival he was referring to, it was all too clear that he most certainly was gay.
It was at this point that I began a rapid dialog with myself:
Self: “Doctor Warm Hands is gay. How do we feel about that?”
Counter-self: “We’re OK with that. We are a bit surprised.”
Self: “And we don’t mind that he’s cutting into our testes?”
Counter-self: “Not at all! He’s a nice man who, uh, enjoys his work.”
Self: “Good, I’m glad that’s settled then. We’re a good person for not letting this bother us.”
Counter-self: “Yup, and we would have picked him anyway.”
Self: “Yep. Now we need to stop thinking about this, because it’s not really important.”
Counter-self: “Yes. It’s just a little funny. Ha-ha!”
Self: “Yes, ha-ha. Now shut up, he’s talking to us again.”
Doctor: “Now that we’ve exorcised both vas, and made sure you don’t have a third”
“Oh, yes, some men have 3 vas – quite interesting. Well, now I clamp them off with these titanium clips, cut a small piece out of each for biopsy, put them back in, and you’re done!”
He then proceeded to do these things, and finishing with a bandaid (a red, white and blue one with little stars), he asked that I lie still for 10 minutes, then get dressed slowly, using a snug jockstrap to prevent any jostling. Jostling would be bad, he explained. I agreed.
After dressing, I paid the still-smiling receptionist and returned home. I decided that my male friend was sagacious and wise, and did indeed purchase the aforementioned cold beer, and was deeply grateful for the numbing effects thus produced. Reflecting upon the days events, I concluded that under similar circumstances, any man would experience a moment or two of alarm. I applauded myself, adjusted my chair slightly, and drifted into peaceful slumber.
[Chapter 10 of The Feral Chicken of Clayton (and other essays)]