I am a good friend. If I am your good friend, I promise I will pick you up from the airport, buy you a drink, support your writing, painting, music, IT and accounting skills, and assure you that your hair looks good even after haircuts gone very wrong. I will not save your life by sacrificing my own, loan you books, give you my last Diet Pepsi, or hold your hand during your vasectomy.

I was misled.

Silas asked me to drive him to and from a “minor surgery.” As said “minor surgery” required that I pick him up at 5:30 AM, I suggested that he take the train and offered to pick him up when normal people were awake. He said he wanted me there. He sounded nervous. I did not want to invade his privacy and ask the nature of the surgery (yes, I did), and assumed, when told the surgery would take place at Planned Parenthood, that he had something growing on him that should not, something that required uncomfortable cotton swabbing, or something stuck somewhere it should not be stuck. I thought his vagueness was meant to protect me.

Silas and I dated for about five minutes, then became good friends. Just before we were formally introduced at a mutual friend’s birthday party, I overheard him say he did not want children. Umm, ok, hi, nice to meet you, guy who doesn’t want kids. I’m girl who does want kids. Five minutes was a pretty lengthy relationship, given our respective procreative intentions.

On the drive there, my 6’6” life of the party friend was pale and squeaky. I asked, and learned that I was chauffeuring him to his vasectomy.

Anyone here think a vasectomy is minor surgery? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

The disclosure was followed by the confession that he wasn’t sure he wanted to go through with it. 5:45am on the Bay Bridge. I offered to buy him a box of condoms and drive us both home. He squeaked his resistance. You can’t turn around on the bridge anyway.

We arrived, Silas filled out some forms, and I pulled out my laptop to begin dcumenting. He fidgeted. I tried to distract, noticing his English pallor was paper white; his hands served as a fortress for his offering.  Though he did not want Silas, Jr. to be implicated in the creation of a different kind of Silas, Jr., his reticence was understandable. The choice between having a kid he didn’t want and having someone touch his parts in a way he did not like his parts to be touched was like that one Sophie had. He was not going to win. Not that day.

The wait was long. He got squeakier, whiter. Then silent. I asked if he wanted me to come in. Part of me wanted him to say yes. Not many women – even wives and girlfriends – observe the minor, yet major, snip. The part that hoped he wouldn’t take me up on the offer didn’t care to (a) observe Silas’ genitalia, or (b) pass out, puke, and/or laugh.

He declined. The nurse retrieved him and they disappeared around a corner. Seconds later, he returned and waved me in.

The doctor asked if I was Silas’ wife or girlfriend. We both said no, fast. Bruce got chatty with me. Dude looks at vas deferens all day. And girls at Planned Parenthood are generally there to prevent things or get antibiotics for things, or, you know, to do things a guy doesn’t want to know right away about a girl. I was a mystery who wasn’t afraid to watch.

Silas was not happy with Bruce’s attempts at speed dating. His stuff was getting taped up against his belly. For access. I held his hand. It was limp, too. Doctor Bruce gave him a hand mirror so he could watch.

It was quick.  It was fascinating. I won’t describe: I am a good friend. I will not abuse my power to invoke widespread wooziness. All I’ll say is we both faltered when we saw smoke coming from his boy parts. This was not a he was so turned on his loins were on fire situation. Silas was not experiencing pre-coital metaphorical heat. There was smoke. Down there.

He lowered the mirror. I felt slightly dizzy and put my head between my legs. A few minutes later, he was taken to a room with other limping men for crackers and juice. I didn’t get any juice.

I drove Silas home. Carefully. He called me every day to tell me what color it was. He asked if I wanted to see it. I said I knew what black, green, blue, and yellow look like. The next time I saw him, I gave him a card with a picture of a kid who looked a little like him. The kid was making a goofy face and had French fries stuck up his nose and crammed in his mouth. I wrote “Congratulations. You are not having one of these.”

He asked if I wanted to see it. I asked what color it was. He smiled. I told him I knew what that color looks like. The card is still on his refrigerator.

 

 

After months of delays, interruptions and mis-schedulings, I was finally about to drop off my second sample at the urologist’s.  This was the big one – the verdict.  The “go/no-go” on my sterility.  And, praise Jesus, it was a “go”. Or “no-go”, depending on the goal.  Regardless, it was confirmed: the baby factory was now defunct.
 
That, of course, is the short version.  The Cliff Notes.  Like saying, “World War Two was a bunch of guys fighting.  The Italians lost interest, the French lost face, the Brits lost their empire, the Germans and Japanese lost the war and the Americans and Russians lost their minds.”  While factually – mostly – correct, it doesn’t really convey the epic struggle that resulted in the ultimate victory.  There is more to the tale.
 
I’ll cut to the chase, in case you’re in a hurry and/or afraid I’ll slip in some surgical details: kids are nature’s own anti-orgasm devices. Anything else you may read below is for entertainment purposes only.  At my expense, of course.
 
At the time of this adventure, my wife was laid up with a broken foot.  The soft cast had that sort of sexy, knee-high Goth thing going… kinda… if you squinted… and were already really horny… but you’d be surprised how often the outside edge of your sex partner’s foot bumps into things in just about any position.  And while some screaming and dirty-talk can be really hot during sex, shrieks of agony incorporating various conjugations of profanities can be a little bit of a mood killer for all parties involved.  I decided to go this one alone. 
 
Sounds easy, right?  I mean, I’m a guy, right?  And it’s not like this is my first rodeo.  And – hey! – my netbook arrived the very weekend prior so I could do some private surfing for – ahem – inspiration.
 
I decided to be discrete as ever and wait until my wife was in the shower and my kids were safely engrossed in… well, whatever the hell kids do when left to their own devices in a room full of toys and crafts.

“Guys,” I called out, “Daddy has to go, um, potty for a little while.  Do you need anything before I go inside?”
 
“No, Dad,” from my daughter.
 
“Gabababum,” from my son.  It’s okay – he was barely over a year old at the time.  He’s a bit more eloquent now.
 
So I was ready.  Let’s do this thing.  Into the bathroom the netbook and I went, off to find some – let’s call a spade a spade here – raunchy, hardcore porn. 
 
Failure number one: I am not a porn connoisseur and, while it’s easy to Google porn-related terms, not all sites are created equal.  Or are free.  It took a little while but I eventually did come across a particularly diverse site with enough variety that, if I couldn’t find something suited to my tastes, I had far bigger issues than sterility.
 
Failure number two: technology.  Fucking technology.  I had configured this new netbook for maximum battery life – which meant that both browsing time and video resolution suffer.  Especially when streaming movies.  Especially large movies.  After a few selections that led more to drumming fingers than stroking hands, I tried to only peruse the less-than-three-minute selections.  Equally terrible.  It was like watching someone make a flip book of stills cut from a Penthouse magazine.
 
Of course, this soon became irrelevant.  Failure number three was on its way.  To wit, children.
 
“Dad!” My daughter, right outside the bathroom door. “He keeps taking my dinosaurs!”
 
“Sweetie, you have forty different dinosaurs. Let him have one.”
 
“I diiiiiid,” she whined back, “but he keeps taking whatever one IIIII have!”
 
Sigh. “That’s because you’re his big sister so he wants to be just like you. Look – give him one, distract him, then play with something else.”
 
“I don’t want to play – “
 
“I’M IN THE FREAKING BATHROOM, sweetie. Give me, like, ten minutes, okay?!?”  Chafing had become the least of my concerns.
 
Sulking two-step, twelve seconds of silence, a mumbled, “Okay.”
 
Alright, where was I beside half-limp?  Oh.  Right.  Strobe-light sex. 
 
“Daddy?” Again, right outside.
 
Jesus.  “What?!?”
 
Pause.  “Please don’t be mad at me.”
 
Oh, fuck me.
 
“Sweetie,” doing my best to not sound like I was gritting my teeth, “It’s okay.  I’m not mad.  I’m just busy.  Okay?  I’ll be right out.  But I’m not mad.  Okay?  I promise.  Now go inside.”
 
I was hoping to hear her stomping away but instead I heard the zombie shuffle of tinier feet heading towards the door. 
 
“Gah?”
 
Oh, please, no.
 
“Gah!” a tiny fist pounded on the door and my daughter shouted his name.
 
“No!” She defended. “Leave Daddy alone!  He’s busy.  Right, Dad?”
 
“Yes,” I mumbled, hoping they didn’t actually ask what I was doing that was taking so long.  No big loss, though – I don’t think I’d gotten past first base with myself.  Yay. 
 
“Gah!  Gah!” By now, my son sounded quite happy for having invented such a fun game with Daddy.  Fun enough, of course, for my daughter to start giggling.  And smacking on the door herself.
 
I shouted her name and she replied with, “It wasn’t me, it was – ” and she blamed her brother.  While giggling.
 
“No, it was NOT – ” And he then he made a liar out of me by smacking the door gleefully, shrieking, “Gah!  Gah!  Gah!  Gah!”
 
Out of the shower and alarmed by the racket, my wife then joined in from upstairs, “Honey?  Is everything alright?”
 
I cracked open the bathroom door and bellowed, “YES, SWEETIE!  JUST PEACHY!  I’M TRYING TO ‘GET A SAMPLE’!”
 
Snickers from the stairwell.  Yeah.  Ha fucking ha, gimpy.  Did I laugh when you demanded that epidural?  By now, my son had wedged his fourteen month old fingers into the door crack while my daughter tried to shove her face through the same space.  And then… the dreaded questions:  “Why do you have the computer in there?  What are those people doing?”
 
I will remember that moment.  There will be vengeance and much cock-blockage when they reach puberty.  But, just then, my defenses were limited and I settled for snapping, “GO INSIDE AND TAKE YOUR BROTHER! NOW!!”
 
This, of course, resulted in my daughter weeping, “Mm. Mmmm…. Mmmwwwaaaahhh!!!!  Please don’t yell at mmeeeeee!!!” 
 
As Thomas Jefferson wrote, reproductive freedom is never free and the tree of sexual liberty must from time to time be watered with the tears of nosy children who can’t give their dad just a few goddamned minutes of peace and privacy.  Or something like that.  Surrounded, beleaguered and cut off from resupply, my only choice was to counterattack.  I shoved their tiny, tear-and-booger-painted fingers back out the door and closed it.  And locked it.  And braced one foot against it.
 
I suppose it speaks to my inner horn-doggedness that I could even maintain a modicum (if you’ll pardon the term) of focus through this barrage of buzzkill but c’est moi.  I killed the browser session, eschewing technology for old-fashioned, low-tech “happy thoughts”, begrudgingly got the goddamned sample and stormed out of the bathroom.
 
Failure number four: I now had a sample cup with no discrete method of transporting it.  Crap.  It was too big (the jar, not the sample – stress is counterproductive to, well, production) to stick in my pocket so, obviously, I needed a simple paper bag. 
 
I had no paper bags.  I had plastic ones that were all nearly translucent and were actually too big to be discrete.  I finally found a fairly smallish, solid white one.  And, of course, it had “Wal-Mart” emblazoned on the side.
 
So… there I stood. Frustrated, mortified, avoiding the gaze of my sniffling children, with my jizz jar in a freaking Wal-Mart bag.  I kept thinking of phrases like “discount ejaculation” and “cheap fuck”.  The really warped part of my brain thought it would be amusing to see if I was asked for a receipt if I approached the customer service desk but I really wasn’t in much of a mood for such frivolity.  Beside, any misuse of the jar might result in my having to do this again.
 
I left for the interminably slow drive to the doctor’s office and recounted the tale while Nurse Helga searched for signs of life under the microscope.  Finally, the verdict. 
 
Clear. 
 
No survivors.  No more kids.  No more deferred intimacy.  No more condoms.  No more gut-wrenching “I thought you were supposed to buy them!” moments.  And, most importantly, no more “gathering samples”.   Well… not alone, anyway.  Or into a jar.  And definitely not if the kids are awake.


I am a parent of two wonderful – if insomniac – children.  They are miracles, bundles of joy, fountains of youth and blah-de-blah-de-blah-de-blah.  While I adore them, they are freaking killing me and there was absolutely no way in hell I was going through this again.  So… I got snipped.

I just like saying it that way – “snipped”. It freaks out the guys I know.  Seriously.  Some men to whom I mention it literally cringe.  Others take a solemn pause in conversation, as if acknowledging the passing of a comrade in arms (or groins, I suppose).  Many make polite “Oh. Really?” sounds and swiftly change the subject.  To watch them just shut down amuses me. I sometimes want to reassure them that I’m just preventing unwanted pregnancies while increasing my own selfish pleasure (Dear Trojan, Inc: Thank you for your many years of loyal and excellent service. Regrettably, upcoming reductions in headcount make our continued relationship unnecessary, although I will gladly and emphatically recommend your services to my son. In about fifteen years.) just so they chill out.  I’m sterile, not a eunuch.

I get it, though. I think if I hadn’t already had kids and wasn’t currently suffering through raising an infant, I might be more disturbed by the thought of someone taking pokey-cutty things to my nether regions.  While I don’t recall my circumcision in the least (I was born in Jewish Memorial Hospital – just color me doomed on arrival), I’m still a little surprised that I don’t have to fight any repressed-memory panic.

After disregarding the best-recommended specialist in the area (his name was, you guessed it, “Dr. Wiener” and I suspect you really don’t want to be giggling at the name of the guy needling into your ‘nads), I made an appointment with the second-best and not at all amusingly named specialist, had my consult, confirmed that I had both testicles and means to pay for the surgery, then set a date.  As luck would have it, it was on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and you’d better believe there were more than a few “Thank God Almighty, I am free at last!” jokes.  Yes, my big day.  What I sometimes thought of as my vas mitzvah – “Today I am a sterile man.”  Well, almost.  According to my crack medical team, it would take about thirty ejaculations to “clear the pipes”. The doors to the baby factory would be closed but there would still be twenty thousand or so shoppers that needed to check out before we turned out the lights for good. So I guess I would be pre-sterile. I would’ve signed a letter of intent to be sterile. I’d be sterile-ready.

And when that day rolled around, I was obscenely happy.  Almost giddy.  Let my wife’s biological alarm clock wail like, well, our latest addition – I wouldn’t have to care!  Sorry, happy to attempt to oblige as often as you’d like but, well…. Plus, I have to admit, I’m a big bio-nerd by nature, always curious about the workings of the human body.  I’d closely watched my own dental surgeries and Lasik procedure – it would be nice to see something new.  I bounced into the doctor’s office, already on first-name terms with the receptionist and my nurse.

Empty my bladder?  Why, now that you mention it, it probably couldn’t hurt to try!  Brilliant idea, really.  Hmmm-hmm-hmm, hmm-hmm-hmmmmm.  Tap-tap-tap.  Wash thoroughly.  And we’re bopping down to the surgery room.

Drop ’em?  Already?  Everything?  Well… nurse Helga was no looker and likely wasn’t even back in her prime during the Johnson presidency (heh – “Johnson”) but I complied anyway.  I can keep my socks on?  Well, that’s a nice touch and keeps a sense of propriety about the whole thing.  And I chattered away, wearing naught but a t-shirt, socks and a smile.  She told me to lay back on the table and we compared favorite, obnoxious “impact injury to the groin” stories as she manhandled my manhood, yanking and flopping this way and that while scrubbing me with Betadine.

“This stuff’s brown, so don’t freak out when you get home and go to clean up. We had one guy call us, thinking he was bleeding out. Idiot.” I generally dig gruff and blunt but Helga was sort of scaring me. I don’t want to be a future story. Especially one ending in “idiot”.

“Okay, spread your legs.”  Yoink!  “And now close ’em. And relax.”

Yes, ma’am.  Just… please let go of my junk, per favore.

And we chit-chatted some more, with me flat on my back and my twig and berries flopped to one side and painted ochre, like some sort of primitive Kabuki porn.

“Now, the doctor’s going to give you three shots.  Down here.”  She poked roughly, in case I thought she meant my patella, because that makes perfect sense.  “After that, you shouldn’t feel anything sharp or pointy.”  Holy shit, did she just say that?  “If you do, say something!  Don’t be all macho and manly on this!”

“Are you fucking kidding me?”  I felt that I’d gotten to know her and that she’d appreciate this sort of candor.  “I’ve manlied my way through a lot of shit but we’re not yanking a tooth here.  What kind of idiot doesn’t say something with this?”  I figured I’d score big points with the “i-word”, a little mirroring to ingratiate myself.

“We had one. I asked him after, ‘How was it?’, and he tells me – ” She affected a look of mocking horror. ” – ‘It was HORRIBLE!’ and then he says he could feel everything!” She shook her head and I pushed the envelope of our sympatico.

“Idiot.” I mutter.

“Exactly!”  Another brownie point for me. I will provide several tips for anyone considering this procedure.  The first is to always score brownie points with the nurse.

Enter Herr Doktor.  Nice enough fellow but certainly not much by way of a sense of humor and he looked disturbingly more than a little like The Tall Man from the 80’s “Phantasm” horror series.  You know – the guy walking around with a giant, stainless-steel, contextually-apropos Flying Ball of Slicing, Cutting Death?  Frankly, I’m more than a little amazed that my schlong didn’t suddenly become an “innie” when he walked in.

“I see you shaved. That’s good.”

That almost sounded creepy.  Okay – drop the “almost”.  But he was right – it was good.  Yes, the doc, during our consultation, warned me that long hairs may get sutured in and so I may wish to consider shaving.  I am, in large part, of Sicilian heritage and we are a somewhat hirsute-of-body kinda people.  So a-shaving I had gone, another new experience to me.  I had never “manscaped” before.  And, um, I liked it… a lot.  Continue to, in fact, but that’s another story.  Should you be contemplating a similar move – for surgical reasons or otherwise – I highly recommend the Norelco Bodygroom.

This was about all the small talk I could extract before we got down to business.  I managed to squeeze a smirk out of Cap’n Clip’em when Helga grumbled about “opening up the wrong end” in regards to a surgical sheet and I replied with, “As long as I don’t hear him say that, it’ll be a good day.”  I know how to work a room, even with exposed and Betadined genitals.

We chatted some more about kids, sleep deprivation, more groin injuries and then Helga warned, “Okay, you’re going to feel a little stick and some burning.”

Pfff – okay, lady. You have no idea what I’ve been through in my life and the kind of pain I’ve endured withouwowowOWOWOW!!! I think I actually started to levitate a little because Nurse Ratched started to sound concerned.

“It’s okay! Caaaaalm down….” And I did.  Breathe, burning feeling is fading, needle is out – Oh, crap, not the left one!  Breeeeathe…. Not as bad as the first.  Ooooookay.  Now he’s going to poke me in the middle, too, but I’m already getting a bit numb down there so it’s okay.  Kinda.

Whew.  Okay.  Then there was some… other stuff.  I mean, man, it was weird.  Nothing hurt but I could feel moving around, tugging, et cetera and the anticipation was a little unsettling.  Especially when I heard snipping.  And when the doc reached for the laser to cauterize me and I saw smoke rising.  Wow.  On second thought, I think I won’t be having barbecued pork for lunch… ever again.  Then he added to my unease when he seemed to be, well, looking around for something on the second side.

“Everything where it’s supposed to be, doc?”

“Oh, yes.  Here.  You still want to see what this is all about?”  He remembered that, during our consultation, I had readily admitted my geek status and medical curiosity.  And, well, I did want to see.  I am a twisted fuck.
 
There we were, discussing blood supply and seminal distribution, with me sitting up and mostly naked and him illustrating various points on my vas… well… sticking out of a hole in my scrotum.  I elected to lay back down before he cut and cauterized it.  Probably best – I may have had a moment of weakness and asked if I could do the actual snipping.  I see I have already referred to myself as twisted.  Just go back and re-read the sentence.

And just like that, we were done.  Stitch here.  Wipe there.  Direct pressure.  After-care instructions (mostly given to my doting wife) then a spousal chauffeur home with one brief stop at the local supermarket’s pharmacy to pick up some Percocet that I was assured I would want (never did take it, though).

On getting home, I almost immediately began to learn many valuable and interesting things.  For example, you should explicitly specify “including when he’s laying down on the couch” when you warn your children ahead of time that no, you will not be playing with them and no, there will be no climbing on Daddy.  Ice packs really are your friend.  And instructions that include the admonition “if you screw up, your scrotum will swell to the size of a grapefruit – at least” should be heeded.
 
Really, really, really take note of that last one.
 
Now, men, a lot of activities you might not expect end up tugging on your balls through the course of a day.  Like coughing, sneezing, sighing, clearing your throat, yelling at misbehaving children, laughing heartily, reaching across your torso with an extended arm holding a laptop and, um, thinking about sex… a lot.  But stupidly going up and down stairs multiple times to ride herd on workers replacing a tiled wall is just courting disaster, something I had frequent occasion to contemplate on subsequent nights when jolted awake by pain every time I rolled onto my stomach in my sleep.

 
I’m convinced that, somewhere in the darkness of the universe, no doubt hunched over her breakfast of rusty nails, baby scorpions and razor blades, Helga was chuckling, “Idiot!”

When I was married to my first wife, I kept thinking about having a vasectomy. I had lived in a place where there was a population problem, big-time, and as an undergraduate I’d been taught by Paul Ehrlich, who wore a little broken male symbol on his lapel. I believed that population control should be a priority for everyone, and that by foregoing reproduction, I was doing my part.

My wife agreed, but every time I talked about getting an appointment with the urologist she said, “No, please don’t do it, because it’s going to make me feel as though you’re mutilated,” so I didn’t get snipped and tied off until after we divorced.

This went on until we were both nearly 40 and she said, “I want a baby.”

Surprise! But I’ll skip over everything between that and the first contractions.

It was time to go to the hospital, yes, so we went, but the nurse said, “You’re having contractions yes, but enough dilation no, so go back home.”

Bummer! We went back home for a while, and when we came back, yes, it was clearly underway. So we sat in a little room waiting.

We knew it was a boy. We even had a name for him, no problem there. I did tell a full-of-himself neighbor that we were going to name the kid Lud, and he believed me for a long time, at least until we got back from the hospital with the kid.

“So this is Lud,” he said, and I said, “Nope.”

But although we had decided on his name we had not decided what to do with his little dick. Some said the father and child’s dicks should match, and since I was born the child of middle class WASP parents in the forties I was cut.

On the other hand we had been living in the rain forest with men and boys whose dicks had not been cut, and had gotten used to seeing boys with intact foreskins, and I, at least, had gotten used to seeing grown men with their foreskins, such as when we swam across rivers or had to piss.

One time this old guy died and when the women were washing his body I noticed that he had been circumcised, which surprised me, so I asked how that had happened. They said that during the war with Japan he was up at the American base for a while, and he saw Americans with no foreskins and he liked the look, so he convinced an American doctor to cut his off. If I had heard that story without seeing the guy’s dick I would not have believed it, but there it was. Wasn’t, actually.

So we were in this little room at the hospital waiting, and in came this nurse. I thought she was very pretty and I liked her long hair and she was shapely, too. She reminded me of an R. Crumb woman, except she was normally-sized and not weird.

She hopped right up on the bed next to my wife and said, “What are you going to do about circumcision?”

My wife said, “We haven’t been able to decide one way or another.”

And the nurse said, “Well, I can never predict what anybody’s going to do unless I know they’re Jewish. Otherwise I never know and then sometimes when I think I probably know, I’m wrong. I get a lot of heavy-duty natural people in here and I figure they’re going to leave it alone, but then they say, all surprised that I would ask, ‘Oh no, of course we’re going to have it cut off.’ And I’m polite so I never say ‘What, you’re heavy-duty natural people so you should leave it on, what’s wrong with you?’”

I said, “You asked us.”

She said, “I asked, but I didn’t give my opinion. I never say anything, because it’s none of my business, and I’m only telling you so that you won’t think that just because you look like sort of natural people, you know, long hair, beard, I’m assuming that you’re automatically going to let it stay.”

And we looked at each other, actually all of us, and I was thinking, Well if this isn’t a clusterfuck I don’t know what is. Am I being told I’m a light-duty natural person so it’s OK to circumcise my son, or am I being told that since I’m at least light-duty maybe I shouldn’t, or am I being told I’m not heavy-duty even though I spent years in the rain forest with people who didn’t wear a lot of clothes and only one guy was circumcised, or just what am I being told here? If I do it does that elevate me to heavy-duty? Do I even want to be a heavy-duty natural person?

And I had other questions, too. If it’s my wife’s baby then at least is the kid’s dick mine? Am I being the patriarch by controlling his little wiener or is she being the matriarch and controlling his wiener herself, in which case that’s not a very good thing since it’s not her dick. Of course it’s not mine, either.

It was confusing.

I looked at my wife but I couldn’t judge what she was thinking so I said, “We’ll decide later, but thanks for the tip.”

And then of course everybody started laughing, but I hadn’t meant it to be funny. Even so I pretended I had, so as to be thought of as wittier than I really was.

The labor was long and hard and she went for the epidural block and I had no criticism of that, Lamaze or no Lamaze. But I have to say that when the midwife grabbed these big scissors and made the episiotomy I was a little taken aback. I knew it was likely to happen but it was so matter-of-fact, grab from the tray, open, snip and there’s a huge fat cut, which of course made me think of the foreskin even though I knew it wouldn’t be done like that, since I had at one time held a little Jewish infant while the mohel did his thing.

Then eventually he starts coming out and my most enduring memory of that is looking at my wife’s pudendum and thinking, Oh my God, that’s what it’s really for, which forever changed the way I thought about a woman’s sexual parts.

Then he was out, OK, head first and that was fine, here’s the umbilical cord, fine, and then Jesus Christ here are his genitals, hugely swollen, and I thought, Is that what we men really are, mostly dick?

Then when he was out and lying on her chest and I realized that no matter what I did he would always be more hers than mine, I said to the nurse, “We won’t be circumcising him.”