Moodswing - The Perfect Penis

To snip or not snip, that is the question

I’m very dirty. Filthy, actually. That’s what happens when your water gets turned off on the hottest day of the year. My neighbor tried to warn me, I think, when he mentioned in passing the other night that the former owner of our house called him to complain about a water bill she received, only I didn’t take that to mean she was receiving our water bill. I just figured she was complaining about the times in general, and I wondered why the hell that should matter to me, or to her even, because I saw the size of the check she got at closing and on top of that she married an airline pilot, and everybody knows airline pilots make jillions just for sitting on their butts behind a bolted door. But due to a mix up, the water utility had not yet been transferred out of her name. So evidently she alerted everyone but us, the result of which was our water service being cancelled right as I was about to take a tandem bath with my 2-year-old, who is also filthy. We’re both covered in a film of ice cream, which melted faster than we could eat it. Chris is out having “cigar night” with his cronies, which is when he drinks bourbon and puffs stogies and returns home smelling like a big barbecued turd, which is a very effective repellant.

So, in all, I don’t think tonight is the night we’ll get cracking on that other kid we keep waffling over whether we’ll have.

And the reason we waffle, if you can believe this, has to do with penises. First, I’m amazed at how picky men are about penises. You’d think they were women, and women, I swear, really aren’t that picky. As long as it functions, we figure it’s a perfectly good penis, whether it’s the size of a totem pole or not, and if a girl tells you any different, she’s pulling that fake-chaste, I’ve-only-been-with-one-other-man-and-that-was-against-my-will crap that we all master in order to make men feel great about their own pocket-packing status, which, I SWEAR TO GOD, is fine. We love it. Really. Whether it looks like it’s been carved out of marble or not.

Which brings me to my real point: Circumcision. You might wonder what business circumcision is of mine, since some people have argued that I have no penis of my own. But I take issue with that, because let’s say I get knocked up with a baby boy, and by the ninth month that boy and all his wadding is making up a third of my weight. Does that not make him literally one big huge part of me? I mean, I grew this boy and all his pieces, right? Believe me, Chris has argued with me on this, but basically I figure that baby’s penis is mine.

Which makes me very protective of it, and the last thing I want is someone coming near my penis with a sharp knife, even if a tank load of anti-biotics are on hand.

C’mon, incisions are involved, and a human-error factor, down there. Surprisingly (or maybe not so), I’ve been abandoned on this stance by my entire guy camp.

They first tried the archaic hygiene defense, and I don’t want to go into detail, but the word “cheese” was bandied about. But please, maybe back before we had showers and people routinely washed off in pig troughs, and men wore boxers made out of tobacco leaves, maybe then the hygiene argument had some merit. So that explains how the pruning practice might have gotten started, but not why we kept it up.

And I was especially surprised that Lary pounded the pro-snip line. Lary, who, even though he lives in an alleyway, still has a shower bigger than my kitchen and has collected enough soap and oils and conditioners and scented enemas and stuff that his whole body could be covered by a big foreskin and he’d still be the cleanest, best-smelling man I know. And he’s not even gay.

So I can’t believe Lary advocates surgery just for better washcloth access. With that logic, why not cut the lips off your face for better toothbrush access? So I don’t buy the big-snip ritual just to save a nanosecond in the shower. Chris, who actually once came around to my view for a while, has now taken a double-strong stance with the snip committee due to some statistic he uncovered stating men with “intact” penises run a higher risk of some kind of cancer during middle age.

I have yet to research that study to see if there’s any merit to it — and if there is I might just acquiesce to the Clip Club — but as of now, it makes no sense to me to put a baby through preventative surgery days after being born. After all, newborn girls are all at risk of breast cancer in middle age, yet we don’t chop off their breasts right out of the chute, do we?

Still, Chris and I are like two bovines at an impasse, each unwilling to move our views to the side a little, each desolately steadfast — each, in essence, unwilling to get cracking on that new kid until one of us comes around to the other’s view of the perfect penis.

Hollis Gillespie’s commentaries can be heard on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” To hear the latest, go to