Manhood & Dreams
On an August morning in a small borough of Golder’s Green I awoke to the noise of bagel shop attendants moving rusted patio furniture trickling through my window. Even in August, there’s a saturated chill that permeates your body when you crawl out of bed. Only two more months of post-college ‘character building’ until I could return to my comfortable American life. Standing erect, I splayed my arms in a dexterous fashion, my joints stretching and trembling.
‘The Green’ is a relatively quiet religious sect of London where the bars close early, the deli opens early, and the Orthodox walk the streets on Friday.
My routine was succinct; In the mornings there was always an apprehensive stretch, a rainy chill, and a release of morning gases. This morning was unlike most others with the addition of severe testicular pain. After urinating gingerly, I decided to tough it out. I waddled to the bus stop, then the underground station, and finally waddled into work at a retail clothing store. Work was increasingly unbearable. Though I soldiered on, my usually excellent customer service and hard-nosed American work ethic were deteriorating irrepressibly. I was of the mind to keep my cool all shift long and then simply waddle back home to a bottle of Advil and a few shots of Absinthe at the end of the day. I mentioned my situation to a few work buddies that I thought could empathize. They responded with disbelief.
“Dan, seriously, I heard of this guy who had the same kind of pain and his bollocks ended up exploding inside his scrote,” Curtis reassured.
“Is it a sharp pain?” I nodded like a 3 year old child asked if he wanted to not have his tushy spanked anymore. “Oh, mate, because I heard about this guy whose bollocks hurt so bad that he went into shock, and when he woke up they were laying in a stainless steel dish next to him on an operating table” Mark declared compassionately.
I quickly waddled out of work, making a beeline for the nearest hospital. I shuffled my feet in this manner, teetering back and forth, for the few blocks until I reached the hospital. I was wondering if there was a chance that my balls would combust; not only explode inside the scrotum, but catch on fire. Very hot, blue flamed fire, not the made for TV yellow and red kind. Maybe my balls would be lit up as they might entering the earth’s atmosphere. Better yet, maybe I could develop a crotch-based flamethrower. My fate was unimaginable.
I was immediately directed to a male nurse; the despondent gatekeeper. He asked me to drop trou then and there. I wasn’t sure if he was actually a certified nurse or a passer-by with ambitions. Nevertheless, he swirled my future children in his hand, in a manner resemblant of Chinese stress balls. Just like the next guy, I’ve had turn and cough physicals before, but this nurse seemed to have been taking a few liberties.
Jesus Christ buddy, why don’t you fucking lick em’ while you’re at it?!, I wished to say; instead, I used more tactful and clinical language. “Uh….can you feel anything wrong?”
He responded flippantly, “Blimey, I just don’t know.”
In U.K. hospitals, they distribute to each waiting patient a color-coded airport boarding pass, which reflects how long you can expect to wait to see a Doctor.
The young Asian gentleman over my right shoulder was coughing up a thick mucous. SARS, I thought. A woman sitting opposite me was holding a bundle of paper towels over a profusely bleeding eye. She was tapping the floor with her heels and frowning. A severe injury, I suspected.
I reached for a magazine to pass the time. I had a feeling none of the suckers near me would be any good at conversing for a spell. ‘Modern Medicine’ was my selection. Not for any particular reason. I flipped it halfway through to an article about post-traumatic syndrome,
‘…Many brave soldiers are still suffering and have been since their return from service. In fact, soldiers with tours of duty in Vietnam may not have immediately shown signs of post-traumatic syndrome. Problems associated with ‘shellshock’ went completely undetected for as long as nine years, in some cases. It’s simply hard to determine how an intense experience will affect the psyche. No modern technology can brain map that efficiently. For those soldiers; the backfire of a car, hearing a foreign voice or accent, even a distinct smell that was sensed during their trauma may trigger and episode of severe delusions or psychosomatic spells. Medical journals pinpoint smell as the strongest sensation to invoke past memories.’
Interesting, but not nearly enough. I was stir crazy.
The bleeders sitting near me both held blue cards in a hand that wasn’t holding fluids. I had a red card. I checked the legend posted on the wall. Okay, green is for 1 hour, a mauve-ish tan-ish color represents 45 minutes wait, blue is 30 minutes, and red is for IMMEDIATE. The safety of my nuts was given a higher priority than the cluster-fuck of terminal cases in the waiting room. God bless them for caring for my nuts almost as much as I do, but there’s nothing that will rattle your cage like holding a red card after hearing a story in which the punch line is, ‘his bollocks were laying in a stainless steel dish next to him on an operating table.’
Less than five minutes passed and my name was called. I dragged my throbbing torso onto the table and de-pantsed per the Doc’s orders. Without so much as a “How do you do?” he dove right in and behind a blur of knuckles and thumbs, he began flopping my hog and piglets around like a drunken farmer.
“Just one moment, sir,” the Doc said over his shoulder as he disappeared behind the sliding curtain, concealing my nudity from the rest of the afflicted. A few minutes passed and a different Doctor appeared. He conducted the same experiment, and left in the same manner. Then a third Doctor appeared with the previous two looking over his shoulder. Are American testicles alien, I thought.
I felt like something queer was happening but I didn’t care to say so when my jewels were in his hands. Maybe it was just how they did things on that side of the pond. Communal ER, possibly? I imagined a group of Doctors hanging around a fire pit, smoking a doobie, talking about the grains of scrotum while ‘The Dead’ wailed from speakers at the hippy tents a few clicks down.
The whole crew left the room, single file, without conversation. When the curtain closed I wondered if I shouldn’t take a bow. Or better yet, pull my pants up and get the hell out of there. I chose to stay, even though the smell of the place was pasty, and reeked of 8th grade physiology class. Polished stainless steel equipment hung from portable racks, poorly concealed. The facilities were comfortable. Had miniature Gilbert Gottfrieds been inside my ear canals screaming and gallivanting, I’d expect to have felt even more appeased .
I realized that I couldn’t leave without a verdict from these damned weirdos. BUT, If they come back wearing HAZMAT suits, I am so out of here. The original nurse, who pimped me out to the other doctors, returned with a guy that was introduced as the anesthesiologist. He was also fixated on my genitalia. He prodded them with his index finger, in a manner which I would also do if I wished to wipe off a booger. But, thankfully, he didn’t have a chance to fondle me like his buddies did.
In any Mary Poppins-like token British accented voice you can muster, the nurse said, “I’m afraid we’re going to theatre now Mr. Redman.”
I had a feeling those damn homos were up to something. They ‘play with your nuts under the guise of Alternative Medicine and then ask you out on a date!’
“I’m terribly sorry, Mr. Redman, ‘theatre’ means ‘surgery’ here. Not date.”
Sonuvabitch, I pondered as I welled up, these assholes are going to cut my nuts off, and they’ll end up mounted on one of their walls!
I was allowed one phone call before the hasty procedure. I got my mother on the phone at 3 a.m. PST and she began crying hysterically shortly after. She repeated my words to me as if there was an international echo.
“Mom, it’s my balls. They need to untwist them, or chop them off. Hell….I really don’t know.”
“They need to untwist your balls?” she said in between sobs.
“I need to go into surgery right away, I’ll call after my one day recovery.”
“You’ll call after your one day recovery?” she said, barely intelligible.
“Mom, don’t worry, I can always adopt.”
As we spoke, the pimp nurse began tugging on my sleeve. I feared that he might want me to pull my pants down for one of his friends again.
“Seriously, WHAT man!?!” I spouted.
“We’d like you to see the specialist as a precautionary measure,” the nurse responded docilely.
I said my goodbyes to my mother and my testes and gave the Doc his final fondle before potentially chopping my manhood off completely. Whose to say that they would stop at the balls? They were numb anyway and I didn’t much mind that the specialist began gear-shifting my genitals and just generally traipsing around my crotch like a monkey-assed fool.
Looking up, the specialist delivered me from annihilation. “Mr. Redman, I’m 99% sure that you don’t need to go to theatre.”
“WHATEVER THE HELL OPTION B IS, I’LL TAKE IT!”
He gave me a prescription and sent me on my way. He let me know that if the pain didn’t subside after 24 hours, I would need to come back for a second round of molestation.
The pills worked. The male nurse called several times that week to check on my progress. I never remembered having that type of service in the states. I expected him to ask what I was wearing.
I’m straight-laced, straight as an arrow, straight talking, and not gay. I’ve never been gay and certainly never will not be if I haven’t been up to this point. The envelope of homosexuality was pressed with a hammer and a chisel on that rainy London day.
I returned to my meager domicile in the United States several months later with only a glimmer of recollection, in the farthest reaches of my galactic brain matter, of ball-tickling physicians. Truly a learning experience, those friendly fellows helped me realize that second opinions are Doc-Chalk-Talk for, ‘we’ll all be laughing about this guy later.’
Sunny skies and a cool ocean breeze was my week long induction to siesta. I took my time recovering from jet lag, and who wouldn’t. Though, eventually it was my time to return to the waking, working, breathing class and begin molding my speck of existence, more commonly known as a life. It took just over a year but I landed a fair paying job with great upside, fair and level-headed supervisors, and terrific benefits. I felt as though I were going to make it in the world ahead of me. I paid rent, made car payments, lived with debts, drove with rage, and paid my taxes as any American might choose to do.
At the first moments chance…