This is way overdue, but I want to assure everyone of something that will no doubt come of inestimable comfort to those who know me well: I am no longer a danger to the gene pool. I wish I could say that I wrestled with the decision, but as my buddy Pete pointed out, my act of semi-self castration took me from a working model to a sporting model. All in all, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in recent years.
Biologists and assholes will tell you that men have an innate desire to mate and create as many children as possible, whether with one woman or many. There’s pop science that says that the things women find attractive in men – strong jaws, broad shoulders, etc. – is all a subtle biological clue that a man will sire children likely to survive. In the face of all that, though, I’d like to issue a call for common sense. We’ve far surpassed anything that Darwin predicted. Our young don’t die from most of the diseases that Ma Nature intended to thin the herd. The weak don’t fall prey to predators with any more frequency than do the strong, and for the record, history has revealed that Rock Hudson wasn’t actually a breeder, either. Seriously? My son could have been born with freaking gills and still grown up to be President. [Editor’s note: If my son was Aquaman, I would actually be very proud.]
Back to my point. Nature isn’t to blame for women being attracted to assholes, culture is. And men don’t have sex with as many women as they can because they are instinctively driven to repopulate the Earth. We already have more people than are sustainable and the problem is growing geometrically. Except when I was actively trying to conceive a child, the thinking in coitus has always been, “Please, God, don’t let anything go wrong here, okay?” Nay, gentle friends, men have sex with as many women as they can … because men like to have sex with as many women as they can.
Science is completely backward on this whole thing. We’ve sicked the collective creativity of Madison Avenue and Research Triangle Park on birth control for women. Off the top of my head for female birth control: ortho tri-cyclen and her cousins, IUDs, sponges, spermicide, horror shows you insert under your skin, hysterectomy, the morning-after pill. I probably missed an obvious type or two. Everything I listed is A) Risky, B) hormonal and hence a crazy-maker, C) expensive, D) painful, or E) some or all of the above. What options for men? Condoms, which from everything I hear women dislike as much as guys do … or vasectomy.
This doesn’t make any sense. We’re heaping side effects on women by making birth control their problem, while the most common complaint from men is that women don’t want sex as much already. Reinforcing men’s libidos and hairlines is a waste of time — where a man’s libido needs help, it’s something worse at work, like depression, smoking or drinking too much. We should be developing birth control for men, and a little blue pill to make women horny. If we’d just concentrate more on putting women in the mood and take care of the consequences, we’d all get laid more. And men, I’m here to tell you, you’re infinitely sexier when your mate doesn’t have to worry about whether she can pull the goalie.
My own decision on the vasectomy was more about ZPG (that’s “zero population growth”). I have two children and they’re absolutely wonderful, but that’s enough to replace me and my ex-wife, and it’s 12 years until they’re off to college and embarking on adulthood. I don’t feel the need to sow wild oats everywhere and I’m perfectly happy to do my part to raise these two, then get on with my second childhood.
Alison has maintained since I met her that she’s never going to get married and she doesn’t want any children. I’m not going to say a lot more about that here, except to note: she’s a keeper. When I mentioned that I was thinking about getting the snip, she offered to split the cost with me, and immediately started telling people that I’d just become a much better boyfriend. I love her for that.
Talking about cutting your rocks off is not the same as doing it, unfortunately. The process is, you go in and talk to a urologist about having the procedure, during which consultation they ask you a series of probing questions. Everything from your medical condition and history to your family situation to semi-psychological queries about whether you’re really really really sure you want to do this. No more children, they caution up and down. I think I put a stop to that last line of questions when I grinned and asked whether there was a money-back guarantee on that one.
The next appointment is the real deal. If you’ve never gotten a flyer from a doctor describing exactly how you need to shave yourself, you’re missing something hilarious. If you have and it was for something less outpatient than a vasectomy, I take that back instantly. If I had two ticks more courage, I’d blog about just the act of making myself shiny and new in preparation for the “procedure” (that’s what adults call surgery, so they can pretend it’s all well and good and normal, and there’s no chance whatsoever that anything could rot from some weird staph infection and fall off).
So, the day of, you go in and settle down on the table. The term “outpatient surgery” is little consolation when you’ve never been hospitalized before, and the first time anyone performs surgery on you, they go straight for your lap. Images of what could go wrong fairly danced through my head. The nurse was a sweet girl with a decent bedside manner, and my falso bravado shining, the conversation went something like:
Me: You’ll be in here for the procedure?
Me: But you’re going to step out while I take off my clothes.
Me: I’m going to be naked and you’ll be standing there handing the doctor instruments.
Me: Is watching me take my pants off somehow more intimate than watching my nuts get sliced off?
Nurse: That’s not going to happen to you.
Me: I’m speaking figuratively.
Nurse: I’ll be right out there.
Me: It’s okay, my girlfriend promised she wouldn’t get jealous over anything today.
Nurse: I’ll be right out there.
I probably went too far with that last one. I think you’ll probably say anything to prove you’re a man before you aren’t one anymore.
So, the doctor comes in. I realize now that I haven’t said enough about him: Dr. Andrew Joel (pronounced yo-ull). He was great. He came in after Ms. Nurse doused my twig and berries with iodine to yank them through a hole in a sterile towel and shoot me full of Lidocaine. We chatted basketball, comparisons between law school and medical school, health care reform and the effect of it on his practice, good restaurants in Florence, the whole nine yards. Anything to distract you from the constant tugs you feel all the way up to your collarbone, and the smell of burning flesh. Yes, sports fans, there was some kind of soldering iron at work. I’m not here to educate you on all the medical details, but there’s cauterization involved and you’re awake to enjoy it. When the whole thing was over, Dr. Joel complimented me on the job I’d done shaving — umm … weird — and I asked him about the official recommendation that you don’t resume your normal testicular function for seven days.
“That’s the rule,” he said, clearly not buying what he was selling.
The last semi-medical bit I’ll relate is this: men, don’t believe the hype that this thing doesn’t hurt. It’s outpatient but they advise you to have someone to drive you home, but you don’t need to worry about that part. You have about long enough to stop by the drugstore and fill the prescription for Tylenol with codeine and get home before it really starts to feel like someone kicked you in the crotch, but that part is coming. They say Friday is the most difficult day to schedule the procedure because most men (most intelligent men, anyway) want to have it done, then have the weekend to recuperate. The literature says that you may feel some slight discomfort for 24-48 hours that should be manageable with OTC painkillers, but the prescription is a backup. All I can say is, I had mine done on a Thursday and it was about a week and a half before I could sit normally for any appreciable length of time. Without getting too graphic … there’s some angry swelling. You wonder off and on whether some kind of weird and permanent damage has been done.
So it’s not a walk in the park, no matter what they try to tell you. But I’m a lucky boy. I got home to find that, even after putting up with all my fretting about surgery on my junk, Alison had let herself into my house and delivered several bags of frozen peas (heaven for a post-op boy), several bottles of Gatorade, a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of damned fine scotch. Regardless of the pain involved, it was all worth it. And nver let anyone tell you that chicks don’t dig scars.