I take issue with the term “crack baby” as it is one of the few nomenclatures that offends me. There’s a certain arrogance to it, a ridiculous presumption that certain babies are somehow crazier than others. This is patently untrue. Spend a significant amount of time with any baby, and you’ll be struck stupid by the exclamations, the questions, the utterances that you never dreamed would escape your lips in the entirety of your life.

To wit: recently we were running errands. The kids were in the back of the car — Sam behind me and Charlee behind Becky. I pulled into a parking lot, cut the ignition, and when I shifted slightly to unbuckle my belt, I glanced at my daughter, and the following words just spilled out of my mouth: “Jesus, what the hell happened to your panties?!”

I can picture the amused albeit confused looks on your faces, dear readers, so allow me to expound. Charlee had hiked up her dress, slipped off her panties so that they were hanging around her ankles, and was fanning her vagina with both hands. She thought it was a joke or a prank of some kind because she began howling at the instant I inquired further as to her motivations. Her only response was “Bahahahahahahaha… I dunno… bahahahahahaha…” Certainly there is pleasure to be had in airing out the nether regions, but I would have thought even a toddler would have the good sense not to do so in a moving vehicle. Not so. Like all babies, mine are crack babies.

In our day-to-day crack-baby lifestyles, I find myself saying more and more things I never thought I’d say. Here’s a list of the greatest hits:

1. Your brothers jewels aren’t like real jewels. It’s kind of a metaphor… A metaphor is a comparison… A comparison shows how two things are similar. Understand? … Okay, whatever, your brother has jewels just like on Pirates of the Caribbean… No, you can’t use them to buy a Dora DVD.

2. Don’t stick legos in the dog’s butt.

3. Yes, I know it feels good, but it’s not something you should generally do in public — unless your name is Peewee Herman (or more recently that guy who directed the Kony documentary).

4. I know the dog’s wet, but trust me, she wouldn’t like it if we put her in the dryer.

5. If you stay in your bed and don’t come out, I swear to god, tomorrow I’ll write you a check for a thousand dollars.

6. No, daddy does not have a vagina.

7. Is that brown Play-doh or…? Oh, seriously. Becky, your turn!

8. No, Desitin is not like makeup. Why do you ask?

9. I know it sounds like a good idea, but I don’t think mommy would appreciate a surprise haircut while she’s taking a nap.

10. Yes, daddy’s penis is bigger than that puppy’s penis.

11. Yes, bigger than that puppy’s, too.

12. Please stop making out with the dog, Charlee.

13. Please stop forcing Sam to make out with the dog, Charlee.

14. Yes, I can smell your fart. No, you cannot have anymore broccoli.

15. If you eat all your dinner, then, yes, I suppose we can paint the dog. But only with water colors. Safety first.

16. No, I do not think Santa Claus will bring you a Tinkerbell doll if you hit your brother with the vacuum. No, not even if it’s an accident.

17. Be reasonable. Please. Please, be reasonable. Please!… You’re kidding! How do you not know what reasonable means yet?

18. The toilet is not a Barbie jacuzzi.

19. It’s your brother’s turn to wear the princess dress and heels. *Moments later. I agree. He looks beautiful.

20. Rape it?! Rape what!? What are you talking about it? Who did what to you? *She gestures to the tab on her pull-up diaper. Oh… rip it. *I take a shot of vodka. Jesus Christ.

ATTENTION: Tell me about a time you said something you never thought you’d say. Doesn’t have to be about kids either. This post could easily have been about marriage (in fact, I’m making a note of that now for a future post — my wife is gonna be so happy), work, friends, etc. Leave it in the comments section. And click this link to subscribe while you’re at it. And/or share this madness on Facebook. There’s a link right below this post. If you don’t do it, I’ll sick my crack babies on you, and soon you’ll be the one disseminating between brown Play-doh and… not brown Play-doh.

 

A while back, when my wife was just pregnant with our first, she and I were at the grocery store shopping for items that would appease her cravings; in retrospect, I would have done well to invest in citrus and Ghirardelli, which are much more palatable cravings than had by a lot of women who prefer to nibble on bone marrow or to eat smoked oysters straight out of the can. But I digress.

While we were doing our shopping, we noticed a single father with a half dozen kids in tow,  ages two to ten or thereabouts. Each kid looked just like the other, and they all looked like the father, so it was reasonable to assume he wasn’t babysitting. This was his routine. And he was outgunned. Truly he didn’t have them in tow; they had him fit for a noose and were dragging him ’round the store by the end of it. The kids were boisterous and loud but not necessarily exhibiting prison-riot behavior. If he had raised a hand to one of them, I would have said something, stepped in, talked him down, and trust me, that ain’t always the case. There are times when I would relish the sight of a tantrum-throwing toddler receiving a swift wingtip in the diaper or enduring the harsh sting of a fire hose on full blast.

That’s not to say these were good kids. Like all kids, they had that look in their eyes, that capacity to do evil and do it well — the look of kids who have not only wondered what a cat would look like on fire but have actually gone in search for matches and a can of tuna. Of course, it’s easier to recognize that look when you’ve had some experience with kids. I see it now in my son and in my daughter, and it chills my blood.

Also lurking about the grocery store that day was an old woman lumbering down the aisles, her hair wet and stringy, not because of a shower but because of sweat and alcohol. This was a mean old crone, a joyless bat who never smiled and who wilted daisies and sunflowers with a single menacing glance.  I imagine she spent her mornings watching The Price is Right, cursing the screen whenever a contestant won his showcase and grunting in pleasure whenever they overbid.

The old lady turned down the dried fruits aisle and came face-to-face with the father and his band of merry children, each one assaulting the father with the phrase, “I want _____, I want _____, I want _____.” (In the blank, please fill in a product of your choosing so long as it contains a majority of high fructose corn syrup). All the chatter made it difficult for the old woman to hear her own evil thoughts. The tension was palpable. A fever pitch was mounting. And when one of the kids stuck his tongue out at the old woman, she erupted: “Rotten! Rotten! Rotten!”

There was silence for a moment.

Despite the fact that the silence was induced by the old woman’s anger, it was clear that it was the first quiet moment the father had experienced in some time, and I honestly think he might even have enjoyed it. But it was fleeting, as the youngest of his children began to cry, no doubt terrified by the old woman’s vitriolic ejaculation. “Excuse me?” he said. “Is something wrong?”

“Your kids need a father. They’re rotten, the whole lot of ’em.”

“They’re just… kids,” he said, as if this was explanation enough. To this, she responded with a growl, threw her hands in the air, abandoned her nearly full shopping cart, and staggered out of the store. Apparently, the kids were so rotten, she couldn’t bare to share the same grocery store with them. The father shook his head in confusion, swept up his youngest into his arms, and continued to collect heavily sugared treats.

Clearly I have rendered this old woman in a wicked light. This is, of course, for comic ends, but I feel differently about her now. Now I consider her something of a sage, a woman who puts truth above all else. I’ll explain, but let me fast forward a few years…

My wife and I now have two kids, which means grocery shopping isn’t so much shopping as it is our night out on the town. When you’re on baby lock down, you do what you can to assuage the cabin fever. We prefer early evening trips to Costco. This is the jackpot time when it comes to free samples, which we’re not crazy about, but all the senior citizens seem to be, and that’s truly who we come for. The old folks see your kids and gush all over them. They tell you how beautiful they are, what lucky parents you must be, how your son is going to slay the women, how your daughter’s curls could sell for millions on the black market, and on it goes.

When you’re new parents, and you’ve been locked in the house for what seems like years, you need these little reassurances, these ego boosts. If people who have survived The Great Depression can look you and your spouse in the eyes and tell you that the results of your combined gene pools are marvelous, lovely, divine even, then it’s a lot easier to change a diaper at three in the morning, and it’s a lot more difficult not to commit multiple homicides.

But I’m a little older now, a little more seasoned as a parent, and I have found myself running into people with new babies. I congratulate them and compliment the baby, even if the baby is ugly (actually, especially if the baby is ugly). But here’s the thing: I don’t really mean any of this. It’s just etiquette. What I’m really thinking is this: kiss your freedom good-bye — welcome to a world in which you never see another movie again, a world dominated by I want _____, a world in which you must always have a fire extinguisher at the ready lest the cat be served up well done on a platter of feline tacos. And because of this, I question these sweet old people who dote on our babies. They’re not earnest in their compliments; they’re thinking, “Ha ha, suckers! We survived, but I bet you won’t…”

This realization makes me think back to the mean old woman who attacked the father and his “Rotten!” kids. Certainly, she was cantankerous, ornery, even rude. But she was honest. The Bible describes Satan as the Father of Lies. I’m only interested in this as a symbol. And as a symbol, the deduction is clear: the mean old woman is righteous; all of the sweet old people in Costco who lied to our faces about the grandeur of our children — those are the real evil bastards. Keep an eye out for them.

And the next time you see new parents pushing their baby down an aisle at Costco, look ’em square in the eye and speak the rotten truth.

 

It was a sunny fall morning. We were at Zoomars with our friends Alec and Katie and their newborn daughter Nora. Point of interest: Alec and Katie happen to be our children’s godparents, which is wonderful. God knows my kids probably aren’t going to get Him from me unless it’s in this way: “A rabbi, a priest, and OJ Simpson walk into a bar…”

I like hanging out with Alec. He, too, is a writer with a tendency toward the comic spirit, and in his presence I feel a sense of fraternity, perhaps even a sense of tranquility and safety. I imagine this stems from knowing that I won’t be laughing alone when situations take a hard — often inappropriate — left turn. This is a good thing as my sense of humor often gets me into trouble, usually because I am the only one laughing. Seriously, how is the entire congregation not in hysterics when the guy giving the eulogy at a funeral is so obviously wearing a toupee seemingly fashioned from the curly sideburns of a Hasidic Jew? It’s nice to have fellowship in these situations.

And this was especially true when the pig at Zoomars began squealing. Actually, I’m not sure about the use of the word squeal. It’s underwhelming given the sound that pierced our ear drums, but I’m only aware of two onomatopoetic sounds that a pig makes — oink and squeal — and let me tell ya, there is a vast sonic distance separating these two. Allow me to demonstrate with an SAT-type analogy: Oink is to squeal like a .50-cent 4th of July firework fountain is to a friggin’ atom bomb. The squealing of this pig was straight out of Revelations, and there was gnashing of teeth to go with it.

Actually, teeth were kind of the problem. Alec and I — with our kids in tow — were immediately drawn toward the sound, as was everyone else. The pig had been enjoying the  generous vegetable offerings of children through the chicken wire that lined his pen when he got a little zealous and perhaps took a bigger bite than he should have, which ended with his left tusk being caught in the wire. The decibel level of the squealing suggested that this was an uncommon and probably soul-shattering experience for the unlucky swine. Now, I don’t think that an animal being hurt or scared is funny (unless it’s a cat — I hate cats), but what was funny was the reaction of the children — or at least some of the children. They felt bad for the pig, pitied him, maybe even empathized with him. And this led to tears. Lots and lots of tears. Alec provided a fitting commentary with a jocular smile: “Looks like we just separated the city mice from the country mice.” Cue the laughter.

All told, the city-mice, country-mice ratio was split — an even 50-50. But things hadn’t fully escalated. One of the zookeepers took it upon himself to liberate the pig from the chicken wire. First he tried simply to grab the pig by his hindquarters and tug, but this only seemed to make matters — and the squealing — much worse. The numbers tilted to about 60-40 in favor of the city mice. The zookeeper realized that it would take a little human ingenuity as opposed to brute force in order to dislodge the pig. In this case, human ingenuity came in the form of a pair of pliers. As you might imagine, this did little to calm the pig’s nerves. Or the kids’ nerves for that matter. The ratio was now easily 70-30. And the final indignity was still to come.

Before I get to that final indignity, I should mention that this was a pig pen, and being a pig pen, it was teeming with swine. This should go without saying, but I don’t want to be culturally biased. Many of you reading this post may in fact qualify for the city mice demographic, so who knows how much you know about pig culture? Assuming you know little, let me say this: a pig pen is not unlike a maximum security prison, so it should have been no surprise when one of the other pigs in the pen, a real opportunist, crept up behind the squealer, mounted him, and unleashed the final indignity, making a city mouse of every person present — with the exception of Alec and myself who laughed mercilessly.

Let me be clear: rape is not funny. Pig-on-pig rape is especially tragic. Nobody should pork anybody without proper invitation or solicitation. What is funny, however, is when suburban kids visit charming petting zoos to experience the quaintness of farm animals and instead take a trip deep into the Ozarks where rednecks make victims of decent people. Not only is this hilarious, it’s educational. Alec and I left the petting zoo with our kids, confident that they were a little tougher, a little more aware. It was like a rape prevention class and a trip to a Mel Brooks movie in one lovely morning.

CODA: The rape scene was fleeting — PG-13 at worst — and the pig was eventually freed and resumed his pig lifestyle without incident, save for a brief tenure at a PTSD facility in Newport Beach where he had a break-though and was finally able to admit that it was okay that his pig of a father never loved him.

 

 

 

I have written before about the Disneyland petting zoo at Big Thunder Ranch and my involuntary need to introduce a little darkness into its otherwise schmaltzy ambience. Today I’d like to relay an experience about a more conventional petting zoo that needs no help from me when it comes to black humor. Zoomars Petting Zoo in San Juan Capistrano, just on the other side of the tracks of the train station, is the zoo of which I speak.

It’s a charming menagerie with mostly farm-friendly animals: ponies, horses, and donkeys; llamas and alpacas; goats, sheep, pigs, and cows; rabbits and guinea pigs; turkeys, chickens, pheasants, and emu; and even a Galapagos Tortoise that introduces a little exotica into the humdrum of common livestock. And though the aesthetic of the zoo is fashioned so as to communicate an innocent and youngster-friendly experience — what with its choo-choo train, jungle gym, and miner’s gulch where kids can pan for fool’s gold, arrowheads, and the occasional plastic emerald — there remains an undercurrent of savagery and the untamed wilderness.

Consider the goats who know nothing of manners or patience and don’t think twice when it comes to ingesting your thumb along with the carrots or broccoli that you felt so compelled to buy at an exorbitant markup in order to enhance the petting zoo experience. And if that doesn’t convince you, consider the llamas. They do spit — with an olympic precision that will make you regret your decision to wear flip-flops as they often aim for the toes. Still not convinced? Head on over to the bunny and guinea pig bin. Just don’t be fooled by the fluff. The denizens of this straw-laden compound bare their fangs first and ask questions later. Many a preschooler learns the hard way that bunnies aren’t all that crazy about cuddlin’ and will scratch out your eyeballs to communicate as much. My son Sam can tell you that guinea pigs in particular don’t appreciate it when you hold them tightly high over head so as to maximize the torque for when you launch them from one side of the pen to the other. While I have never encouraged my son to spontaneously fling rodents, I must say I was impressed by the acrobatic skill of the guinea pig — whether intentional or not. I’m telling ya, it’s the kind of show you could take on the road. Still, guinea pigs don’t cotton much to such innocent play and often retaliate in a bloodthirsty, ferocious manner.

It might seem that I’m condemning this experience, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, I feel that an afternoon at this petting zoo is an invaluable lesson for children which reminds them that the world is not merely a Disneyfied gentrification. There are, in fact, wolves lurking about, and sometimes you’re gonna have to get your hands dirty — maybe even bloody — if you wanna survive.

Now you can tell your children about survival of the fittest and social Darwinism all you want, but they really have to encounter these types of lessons personally if the ideas are going to stick. The goats and the llamas and the bunnies and the guinea pigs provided a decent primer for the cruel realities present in the natural world, but it was the pigs that really brought it home — the shrill, violent, utterly heinous squealing of the pigs and an incident of exceeding primitiveness that clearly distinguished the weaklings from the warriors…

…return next time for Part 2 of The Sequel to Deliverance: The Squealing of the Pigs or City Mice and Country Mice – Part 1…

SUBSCRIBE! Just click this link and toss in your email address to ensure you hear the rest of this yarn. Most people are either sadists or masochists — either way, the end of this story will satisfy. Also, if you dig the blog, email your pals, tweet, share it on facebook. The icons below are your friends; don’t neglect them. Also, I know some of you readers are members of my mother-in-law’s book club. Might I recommend this blog as an alternative to the usual Oprah Winfrey-endorsed fare? Imagine it — my mother-in-law forced to discuss titties, vasectomies, lying to children, and even ménage à trois. You could sell tickets to that show.

There are certain heterosexual male fantasies that are ubiquitous, ever present, universal even. A quick Google search will turn up any number of Top 10 lists, and they’re all pretty much the same. Most of them include the teacher-student fantasy, the mile-high club, the naughty nurse, and so on. When you read this list, it becomes glaringly apparent how unimaginative and predictable men are; alas, that is a different post.

Of course, the number one fantasy on many of these Top 10 lists — the holy grail of sexual bravado — is the ménage à trois. I use the French as it seems so much more distinguished than the Americanized English version threesome, and I’m nothing if not distinguished (if you don’t believe me, just read my post on titties). Say what you will about the French, but they make everything sound more palatable: you’re not eating snails, you’re dining on escargot; you’re not drinking Two-buck Chuck, you’re sipping Pinot Noir; you’re not shtupping a couple blondes, you’re enjoying a ménage à trois. Again, I digress.

If I’m being perfectly honest, I’ve never understood the appeal of such an endeavor. It’s taken some time to feel competent with just just one woman in my bed, never mind a second. So you can imagine my surprise when I woke up one morning with three representatives of the female gender. This might sound like the beginnings of a steamy and slinky editorial for Penthouse Forum, but let me be clear — this post does not lead in that direction. In fact, it leads toward a much weirder and more confusing situation.

I woke up, as most red-blooded men do, at full attention — yes, that full attention. The first thing I saw was my wife, sleeping soundly — as beautiful and elegant as ever. Her eyes opened slowly and locked on mine, and I could have sworn she gave me that look; this is doubtful, though, since that look never gets tossed around so easily in the morning. I prefer my memory to reality, however, so whether or not she did offer up that look is neither here nor there. I leaned up for a kiss — she uses a pillow, and I do not, hence the leaning up –and I was immediately stopped short by the sight of a foreign hand swinging over and embracing my wife.

The hand was the size of a tangerine and the fingernails were painted with every color that resides inside a bag of Skittles. It was my daughter who had at some point during the night slipped out of her room and into our bed. I tell ya, nothing kills the mood like the suddenly discovered presence of a toddler between the sheets. Talk about your Freudian nightmares coming to life. I barely managed to stifle a yelp of unmitigated terror before rolling away from my wife cricket-quick with designs on an ice-cold shower. But my feet were tangled in something beneath the covers.

What was it? A stray limb? A hand? A foot? Wait… What the… Is that hair? No, too coarse. Fur. Friggin’ fur. I lifted the blankets and peered toward the foot of the bed. Staring back at me, her eyes glowing with rapture, was the damn dog. That was the final indignity. I stumbled out of bed and into the shower, reflecting on my days in college when life was full of a different kind of surprise, usually the result of a heavy night of drinking or a wild night out with a girl whose name I no longer remember (and maybe never really knew).

This, I suppose, was an attempt to balance the domestication that my life has now become. And resentment comes easy when your will is divided so many ways. But I got out of the shower and took a look at my girls who were still sleeping sweetly in the bed and I was struck by a thought: you can keep that generic Top 10 list of fantasies. I feel pretty great about my family — my wife, my daughter, my… dog…

Eh, you can keep the damn dog.

POST SCRIPT: Thanks to all of you who have been telling people about my blog. According to Google Analytics, I’ve got a pretty big following in Uganda and Colombia, which I can only attribute to word of mouth. So, again, thanks to those of you who have emailed friends , tweeted, shared on Facebook, and gabbed to your sewing circle (I’m looking at you, Brian Schnurle). And for those of you who have not cared to contribute, well, I hope you have nightmares in which you are stuck inside a submarine with the cast of The View or a support group for people who suffer from halitosis and an addiction to garlic and patchouli oil. Cheers!

 

There are certain tools a parent adopts to solve problems when it comes to their children. I have used the time-out strategy to varied degrees of success. Positive reinforcement can work, but it’s like that old adage about training dogs — you have to catch ’em in the act. And rare is the time I catch my kids taking out the trash, scrubbing the toilets, or doing the taxes, at least not without being asked forty-seven times. My wife insists that toddlers are not developed enough to handle such chores, but there are several sweat shops in India that would beg to differ. Spanking is another solution, one to which I don’t subscribe, but I may reconsider — Joe Jackson’s kids make a fortune.

The one parenting technique I truly endorse is lying. Not only is it effective, but it can be a lot of fun. Recently, we were at a birthday party for one of Charlee’s preschool classmates. The party was held at a country club, and there was an olympic-sized pool on the premises, a pretty big nuisance if you have have a two-year-old boy in tow. My son immediately climbed the steps of the diving board and edged a few feet out, the board springing ominously beneath him before I swooped in and managed to save him from a fate worse than Natalie Wood’s. And thank god. If Charlee’s little brother put a damper on the birthday party by drowning, then she probably wouldn’t get invited back next year.

To solidify our spot on subsequent guest lists, I found it necessary to tell Sam a little white lie — that the pool was filled with a half dozen invisible monsters who eat the spleens of towheaded little boys. Sam repeated, “Monstuh?”

“Yup,” I said. “Big ones. Hungry.”

He looked me in the eye (even at two he’s a pretty good lie detector), and I raised an eyebrow as if to say You better believe it, buster! And he slowly took a step back, retreating from the edge of the pool, which he then avoided for the rest of the party. NOTE: some lies have a shelf life, particularly when it comes to little boys; eventually, curiosity will come into play, but, fortunately, most preschool parties don’t last that long.

As you can see, lying to children is both fun and potentially life saving. Here are one dozen lies I have told my children, some for practical purposes, some for my own amusement. Please enjoy!

1. The neighbor lady is a witch, and that weird mothball and Icy Hot smell that comes from her house is from her cauldron. She’s cooking the kindergartener down the street who wouldn’t go to bed.

2. Before I met your mom, I dated Snow White. She was kinda kinky.

3. Before I dated Snow White, I dated The Little Mermaid. Talk about high maintenance. And stink-y!

4. You had an older brother. Well, you still have an older brother, but we keep him locked in the attic. That’s what happens when you don’t eat everything on your plate.

5. No, we can’t watch Dora again. If you watch Dora too many times in one day, somewhere in the world a grandmother drops dead. And you can’t bring her back by clapping.

6. We can’t have a cat. Southern California isn’t zoned for it.

7. Mickey Mouse has a bad cocaine problem.

8. Bert and Ernie aren’t really gay like everyone says.

9. The economy has been rough on everyone. Santa Claus has had to lay off half of his elves, so half the kids aren’t going to get squat this year. Who will it be, Charlee or Sam? Let the naughty vs. nice tournament of champions begin!

10. In the fall, mommy’s boobies produce beer, not milk.

11. The iced cream man only plays that song when he’s out of stock.

12. Mama likes it when you slap her on the ass and say, “What’s shakin’, cuddle butt?”

QUID PRO QUO: What lies have you told? Lay ’em on me in the comments section.

 

 

There are a handful of things that will change a man: seeing his brother-in-arms blown to pieces in the hell that is war; getting a second glance from a beautiful woman on a Sunday afternoon downtown stroll; dropping a tab of acid on a Wednesday night and coming face to face with pink elephants ridden by Lebanese dwarves who use their nipples to speak in a southern accent ; and, finally, observing your vas deferens being yanked on by a focused urologist, his arm slowly raising like a seamstress pulling a stitch taut.

The image reminded me John Updike. In his essay “A Disposable Rocket,” Updike compares men’s bodies to women’s bodies and concludes that the space that concerns men is outer — a baseball flying over the home run fence, a football spiraling into the end zone, a worm on a hook cast out into the middle of a lake, and, of course, a man’s own penis; women, with their vaginas and their wombs tend to be more inner-focused (again, Updike’s ideas, not mine). Anyhow, I couldn’t help but think that, in that moment, I wanted to be more woman than man, more inner than outer — that is, I wanted my junk to be back inside its yard.

These thoughts quickly dissipated when I heard a “snip” (yes, that particular use of onomatopoeia is deadly accurate), and though the sound is faint and brief, the emotional repercussions are resounding. With that sound, a man transforms from a shotgun-wielding madman into a shotgun-wileding madman with no shells. Actually, that is only partially true. Dr. Min executed the vasectomy, sewed me up, and then with a cancer-serious tone explained that there indeed were still rounds in the clip and to fire them into a live female target could yield another baby. If you want a less violent metaphor, the kinked hose is a good one. You know how you can turn off the hose and then pull the trigger of the nozzle to squirt just enough water to soak somebody? Same idea. I still had a full hose, or rather — returning to my violent motif — a full clip. And it takes a little longer than you might think to empty a full clip. When it comes to ammo, penises are less like six-shooters and more like gatling guns.

After Dr. Min was finished reminding me not to ride any mechanical bulls or perform any splits, I shook his hand and thanked him. Only in retrospect did it seem ridiculous to thank a man for breaking my huevos. But thank him I did. And I thanked the bearded nurse with the mullet, too. This also felt awkward in retrospect. People should be thanked for holding doors open, for buying a round of beers, for lending you the funny section of the paper at a coffee shop. They should not be thanked for painting the testicles of another man with iodine. It’s not that I wasn’t grateful; I was, for the operation could have gone much worse. But this was one of those times when it would have been more polite to say nothing at all. Ironically, those are my favorite kinds of polite times, and I botched this one. Ah, well, live and learn; though I do wonder when this particular lesson will bear fruit.

I pulled on my grape smugglers, limped out into the waiting room, and was greeted by my grinning wife who quickly opened the mini ice chest we had brought and produced a large bag of frozen peas. Now you want frozen peas to be form fitting, malleable, so I suggest that vasectomy candidates go with the smaller variety — “tiny tender,” I believe they’re called. Normally, I don’t like to associate that part of my anatomy with the word “tiny,” but when the local anesthesia begins to run its course, you’ll care little for unfortunate linguistic associations.

I spent the next day or two in the spare bedroom of my in-laws. My daughter was about crotch-high at this time, as was my son when his filthy little mitts were fully extended, and to be around them was to be in danger of popping a stitch, and while I’m up for living dangerously from time to time, this was not one of those times. Instead, I laid in bed and watched movies. Becky would call from time to time and tell me what the kids were up to. Apparently, Charlee had begun taking interest in a Barbie doll, which, of course, struck me as ironic since I had become something of a Ken doll. Charlee and Sam were audibly playing in the background.  Suddenly, the vasectomy didn’t seem all that bad. I had an incredible family: one wife, one daughter, one son. And this was good; it felt complete, even if my balls did not. May they rest in peace.

BONUS: Some of my female readers have sent messages of concern. Apparently, my post does little to glorify the vasectomy process and therefore makes it difficult for them to broach the subject with their male counterparts. Well, let me suggest that you customize the vasectomy experience. To wit: March Madness begins this week. You might have scheduled your husband’s vasectomy in Vegas and booked him a recovery suite at Caesar’s Palace. There’s nothing like a soft, cushiony seat in the sports book and a never ending loop of hi-def competitive athletics to take the sting out of a man’s vas deferens.

ATTENTION: Many of you are aware of the agreement between Becky and me. If this blog brings fame and fortune, of this thing takes off, then I have to take off too, that is, take off my pants and endure a vasectomy reversal for another round of baby-makin’. So tell everyone you know. Sign ’em up for a subscription (the link is up top), announce your allegiance on Facebook, tweet, pin, stumbleupon, and do all those other social media things that, ironically, I have no idea how to do.


So the waiting period was up, and I had to make good on my deal. Before the procedure, I had to prepare — not only emotionally but physically and practically. There was a whole laundry list of things that needed to be done. I’m a teacher, so I had to make sure my classes were covered. I’m a boxer-shorts kind of man, so I had to purchase some grape smugglers, which act as a brassiere for the old Charlie Browns. The nurse who gave me the checklist assured me that after the procedure I wouldn’t want to be “dangling” (her word, not mine). I’m a runner and routinely pop ibuprofen to soothe back and knee pain, but I had to arrange for alternative therapies, in this case a bag of frozen peas, which I knew would come in handy after the vasectomy. And, finally, I’m not exactly metrosexual, so I had to invest in a few extra razors and a bottle of Nair. Apparently, the urologist — being something of a testicular artisan — would require a clean canvas.

I didn’t use both razors and Nair, but I wanted both on hand just in case. In case what, you ask? I don’t know. But when you’re dealing with certain sensitive parts of your body, all you can think is that you want to be prepared. I ended up going with the razor. The Nair was foreign and the term “chemical burn” was not all that palatable, especially given that there would be a significant recovery time and the area was going to be sensitive as it was. No need to make the region resemble Joan Rivers’ face. Besides I was well versed with the razor and if I had slipped, I might have managed to perform my own vasectomy, which would pretty much make me the manliest man on the planet. Win, win.

Having crossed each item from my checklist, I piled into the passenger seat and my wife drove me to the urologist. I prepared a playlist for the ride that included the following songs: “The Long and Winding Road” by The Beatles; “I’ll Be Missing You” by Puffy Daddy and Faith Evans; “And When I’m Gone” by Blood, Sweat, and Tears; and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” by Ella Fitzgerald. My wife thought I was being melodramatic, which only disproves the stereotype that women are the more sensitive half of our species.

I said goodbye to my wife in the waiting room — I’d be lying if I told you that she was not looking crotch-ward when she returned her goodbye — and then I was ushered into the O.R. by a male nurse with a shaggy beard and a mullet. I’m from Lake Elsinore, and, ironically, this made me feel at home. That is, until he told me to get undressed, put on a robe, and lie supine on the table. Suddenly, shit got real. Nothing makes a man feel more vulnerable than lying on a cold metal table and having his nether region painted with iodine by a bearded, mulleted male nurse. I couldn’t help but feel I had been cast in an episode of HBO’s “Oz.”

Not long after I had been violated with iodine, Dr. Min, the urologist walked in. He was Korean and looked about 13 years old. He introduced himself and then asked me three times the same question: “Are you sure you don’t want to have any more kids?” I answered that I was sure each time but couldn’t help thinking that he was trying to manipulate me into saying that I wasn’t sure — maybe so he wouldn’t have to perform the operation? But why? Was he unprepared? Was he feeling a little shaky after having the cole slaw in the hospital cafeteria? Had he not paid attention during the vasectomy seminar of his online urology vocational college? Of course, this was just my fear talking, and really he was trying to limit his own liability.

Once we established that I was ready to pull the trigger, Dr. Min snapped on the rubber gloves and got to work. First things first, anesthesia. It’s local. They don’t put you out. This seemed like the kind of activity that should take place at Guantanamo Bay, not at the urologist’s office. I steeled myself and endured the numbing process. A small pinch. No big deal. The problem was that I couldn’t see anything that was happening. Big lights illuminated the operating area, not to mention the fact that Dr. Min was hovering over me, so my visibility was impaired. Normally, when I’m being impaled with foreign objects — which only happens during medical situations, mind you — I like to watch in the event that something goes wrong so I can react appropriately. But here I was, effectively blinded while the Korean version of Doogie Howser was brandishing murder weapons within inches of my favorite appendage.

In an attempt to establish some sort of control, I began talking to Dr. Min, trying to get the play-by-play, and he was gracious enough to accommodate; however, I soon felt that the conversation was a little misguided. When you hear the words, “I’m now making an incision into the scrotum…” and that scrotum belongs to you, it can be very unsettling. Also, you begin to have horrible visions. Maybe you ask a question that, for whatever reason, offends the doctor; or maybe you’re funny, and the doctor laughs; or maybe you’re questions and comments are just generally distracting — all scenarios which could lead to disaster.

For instance, the doctor tenses up and slips, the incision becomes a laceration, and your “contents” suddenly spill out onto the floor and roll into the waiting room where an old blind man sits with his seeing eye dog who hasn’t eaten in a while, and… yeah, better to keep your mouth shut. You wouldn’t distract the bomb squad while they were deciding which color of wire to cut, would you? The bomb diffusing metaphor was pretty apt, I thought, so I shut up and let Dr. Min do his thing.

The surgery didn’t last much longer, but there was one moment that was especially noteworthy. I couldn’t really fell anything but pressure. There’s definitely a sensation of things being reorganized down there. And when that sensation was the most intense, well, that’s when I saw it…

…return next time for Act Three of “The Vasectomy – A Tragedy in Three Acts”… In the mean time, be sure to read the ATTENTION notice below…

ATTENTION: I have agreed to signing up for a vasectomy reversal as well as to fathering two additional children with my wife Becky in the event that this blog fast tracks my Hollywood writing career. That said, spread the word. Subscribe. Tell your friends. Tell your enemies. Post a link on your Facebook page. Include it in your church’s weekly prayer circle. From my wife’s lips to god’s ears: “Mama needs a new pair of babies!”

So I scheduled the vasectomy just a few months after Sam was born. Don’t misinterpret this. I love my kids dearly, and my decision to go under the knife is in no way a reflection of how I feel about them. It is more a reflection that I, as Becky so lovingly puts it, have a touch of the OCD. I like straight edges, clean lines, and even numbers. Two parents; two kids. Two boys; two girls. Nice and even. Note to self: must find a way to get rid of that damn dog; she’s throwing off this family’s sense of balance. Another note to self: despite what the wife and daughter say, a pussy cat will not bring balance to the dog dilemma.

Okay, back to the subject at hand, i.e. my testicles. Because I felt comfortable with the symmetry our family had achieved, I felt confident (actually, confident is not the right word, but it’ll have to do) that it was time to drop the axe. Friends of mine — I should probably specify that these were male friends — demanded to know why I was getting neutered as opposed to my wife getting spayed. Some of you might know that the procedure for men is much less invasive than it is for women and therefore less expensive. This, however, did not factor into my decision. I chose the vasectomy because I am a man of action. I make deals. I change the world. I draft blogs. Some men sit on the sidelines. But me? I disconnect the vas deferens (or at least make a co-payment to an HMO to so that they can perform the disconnection).

Before actually having the vasectomy, I had to attend an orientation. In retrospect, I can admit that this is a good thing. The news is always reporting stories of surgeries run amok — surgeons mixing up paperwork and performing the wrong procedure on a patient, surgical assistants leaving a sponge in the chest cavity of a quadruple bypass, the entire medical staff telling yo’ mama jokes before the patient is fully anaesthetized — so this seemed like another failsafe to ensure that some poor schmuck wouldn’t wander in off the street and get an unsolicited nip-tuck of the old Charlie Browns. But when I was going through the orientation, I didn’t feel so assured; instead, I felt like I was being subjected to a needless prolonging of an already uncomfortable situation — a heinous, wretched, immoral, unnatural, depraved, sacrilegious, gnashing-of-teeth type of situation.

This anxious feeling was not assuaged by the nurses running this perverse meet ‘n greet. Yes, they were all female nurses. And, no, I would not be surprised to learn that they were running the orientation pro bono since the lot of them seemed to relish the act of instilling in men an apocalyptic-level horror. When I was waiting to drop off my paperwork before the orientation began, I noticed I had forgotten to fill out a box on one of the forms. I stepped out of line and approached the registration table to hunt down a pen. The nurse at the table shouted at me, “Hey, buddy, no cutting — not yet anyway!” And then she cackled loudly, throwing her head back and holding her arms akimbo, her chest and shoulders heaving violently. The other nurses in the room cackled too, and I swear, at that moment, a gust of sulfur filled the air and somewhere outside the building a hummingbird dropped dead. This all made perfect sense: the HMO had hired a coven of witches to initiate the vasectomy process.

Moments later, I, along with a few dozen other men, we’re shepherded into a classroom where the nurses proceeded to school us on scalpels, lasers, and other medieval and technologically advanced forms of weaponry pertinent to vasectomies. Next they explained in bloody detail the ins and outs of the forthcoming carnage. It goes down like this: a urologist makes an incision, fishes out the vas deferens with a meat hook, cuts the vas deferens, and then ties it in a knot to achieve a kinked hose sort of effect.

At this point, a middle-aged sales manager raised his hand and asked if sperm would continue being produced (a good question given the kinked hose analogy). The nurse confirmed that indeed sperm would still be produced but that it would be absorbed into the body. The sales manager considered these claims and then raised his hand to ask a follow-up question: “Will that lead to any complications for those of us who are…um…especially sexually active?” The rest of us vasectomy candidates puffed out our chests and nodded as if to confirm that this was a thoughtful and relevant question. The nurse rolled her eyes and asked if there were any other good questions, obviously insensitive to the vulnerable nature of men electing to sacrifice their virility, their identity, and a large majority of their sense of self-worth.

It suddenly struck me as ironic that women were the educational touchstone when it came to a testicle-specific procedure. I imagine my female readership is a little perturbed by this last comment given that they have endured pap smears and mammograms at the hands of a male-dominated medical profession for as long as doctors have been saying, “This might hurt a little.” Well, ladies, you have my sympathy, and please know that I’m writing my congressman to propose a bill that would henceforth require genital empathy in all medical procedures and education.

Having completed the orientation, we were released with instructions to schedule our appointments after a 90-day stretch. This was a cooling-off period, we were told, the same idea employed to deter jealous spouses who had recently purchased a snub-nosed revolver from gunning down their promiscuous better halves. But instead of waiting to be armed, we were waiting to be disarmed. And even though the coven of witches had done little to soothe my nerves, I signed up for the snip — and once you’ve made a deal with a witch, there’s no going back…

…return next time for Act Two of “The Vasectomy – A Tragedy in Three Acts”… In the mean time, be sure to read the ATTENTION notice below… 

ATTENTION: I have agreed to signing up for a vasectomy reversal as well as to fathering two additional children with my wife Becky (not merely one as this would throw off our family symmetry) in the event that this blog leads to a six-figure book deal and/or a contract to adapt this blog into a script for a major motion picture studio starring an actor from a short list of my choosing. That said, spread the word. Subscribe. Tell your friends. Tell your enemies. From my wife’s lips to god’s ears: “Mama needs a new pair of babies!”

A lot of people are sold on this idea that Jesus was a pretty incredible guy. Water into wine? Okay. Impressive. Feeding the masses on a can o’ tuna and a loaf of Wonder Bread? Fairly resourceful. Healing the leper. Not too shabby (though I wish he’d do something about this lower back pain). Casting out demons? Pretty slick. If we accept these miracles as Gospel Truth, then we must concede that Jesus was above average in the virtue department, right? Right? Well, now that I have kids, I’m not so sure.

Jesus, we are told, was without sin. He never lied, cheated, stole, lost his patience — the guy was a friggin’ saint…er…uh…God. Don’t get me wrong. To be entirely without blame in any context is quite a feat. But I have to wonder — if Jesus had had kids (maybe those rumors about Mary Magdalene were true?) and he was around to babysit, could he have maintained his sinless stature? I, for one, am skeptical.

I firmly believe — and I’m not trying to be funny here — that if you have not fantasized about grabbing your baby by its torso, squeezing it like a football, and dropping back into the pocket to fire him or her out the mother grabbin’ second story window, then you’re a deadbeat. You simply weren’t there. To be in the presence of newborn innocence is to be in an environment that fosters impatience, frustration, and anger of the most intense varieties. And these violent fantasies carry on for quite some time. My daughter is about to round the corner on four years and my son just turned two, so I can really only comment thus far, but I must admit that the fantasies are as vivid as ever. Of course, it never comes to bloodshed. Inevitably the little turds will do something — smile, yawn, fall asleep ever so sweetly, mutter the words “I wub you, daddy” — and then murder just seems absurd. It’s a hell of a defense mechanism on their parts.

Still, every parent I know who endures colic, tantrums, or the same question asked 100 different ways–

Can I stay up?

No.

Can I not go to sleep?

No!

Can I sleep tomorrow instead of right now?

No!!! For the love of all that is Holy, no!!!

Can I–

Ask one more time — just once more! — and you and Marvin Gaye will have plenty to talk about in the afterlife!

–that parent ultimately falls from grace. Now I know what some of you are thinking, and I get it: crucifixion is no walk in the park. I couldn’t imagine the pain, the suffering, the agony — it sounds unbearable.

But here’s where having kids wins out in this argument (or loses, depending on your perspective): crucifixion has a time limit; parenting, however, has no time limit — it’s a friggin’ grind. Sure, the kid will go to bed eventually, after she’s come out of her room three hundred times inside an hour to remind you that she loves you, but on that three hundred and first time, you’ll snap, once again falling short of the glory of God. Ten minutes after the nervous breakdown, the little bugger will finally fall asleep, and you’ll think family life is not so bad, but then the thought of tomorrow’s bedtime routine creeps into your consciousness, and it’s then that the devil has his horns into you, fanning the flames of those terrible fantasies. I imagine if Jesus babysat for my kids, they would probably have him taking his own name in vain before he could recite the Lord’s Prayer. I could be wrong. But I tell you what — those miracles would be a lot more impressive if Jesus had cast demons out of a toddler. Can I get a mother grabbin’ Amen?

ATTENTION: Thanks for reading. Now subscribe! Subscribe, damn you! The button’s up there somewhere.

ATTENTION (PART 2): Leave me a comment. I want to hear about those times when you’re kids have been possessed and in need of exorcism. Or if you don’t have kids, what kids have you seen in public in need of messianic assistance?