In May of 2006, You Learned:
HOW TO SHARE YOUR INTERESTS.
It's nearly June which means it's time for The Morning News to present its "Of Recent Note" entries for the month of May. They grab their contributing writers and ask them to discuss things that have been of particular interest to them over the last month. I am one of those contributing writers. Read the article and learn how much I love Vitamin C. (i.e. cock)
HOW TO KICK PEOPLE TONIGHT.
How to Kick People is a comedy reading series I co-produce/co-host with Bob Powers each and every month, here in New York City. I like it a lot. We usually invite a small selection of comedy writers and published authors, with an occasional cartoonist or musician we love, to join us in entertaining an audience full of young people in flattering eyewear.
H2KP - Tonight, May 31st at 7:30pm
Mo Pitkin's House of Satisfaction
Admission: only $8, buddy
This month's theme is HEROES VS. VILLAINS and we've got an especially interesting group of guests. They are:
NICK KROLL (he's the co-author of Bar-Mitzvah Disco and the co-creator of 'I Love the 30s' and 'All Access Middle Ages'; he has a lot of URLs, it seems)
JANE BORDEN (she's an editor at Time Out NY Magazine, and her writing has appeared in The NY Times Magazine's 'Funny Pages' and on SNL)
MIKE SACKS and TED TRAVELSTEAD (together and separately, they've written for Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Esquire, and McSweeney's; tonight, Mike will write and Ted will read)
Hope to see your pretty face there.
HOW TO GO HIGH-CONCEPT.
I saw the trailer for Adam Sandler's new movie, Click, which is about a shlubby, henpecked guy who gets a super-magical remote control with a genie inside (played by Shaquille O'Neal) that gives him the power to point at boobies and make them jiggle faster or slower. In other words, it gives him the greatest powers any human being can ever possibly imagine. This must have been a confusing movie to pitch! IT'S SO COMPLICATED.
The trailer was, predictably, AMAZING. But I was surprised the trailer was conspicuously missing the following scene, some variation of which surely must occur repeatedly during the course of the film:
SCENE: ADAM SANDLER'S DRIVEWAY, AFTERNOON
An ANNOYING AND UPTIGHT NEIGHBOR is dressing down Adam Sandler.
ANNOYING AND UPTIGHT NEIGHBOR
And another thing! Your dog keeps crapping on my lawn. I think it's about time you showed some respect for people other than yourself.
ADAM SANDLER REACHES INTO THE WAISTBAND OF HIS SWEATPANTS AND REMOVES A LARGE, BRIGHT BLUE REMOTE CONTROL AND POINTS IT AT HIS NEIGHBOR
Why don't you shut your mouth?
ANNOYING UPTIGHT NEIGHBOR
What are you doing?
C.U.: Adam Sandler's finger pressing the remote's "mute" button.
C.U.: Neighbor's mouth, speaking rapidly without any sound coming on. Neighbor stops speaking and:
CUT TO: Adam Sandler clicks "mute" button again.
Did you hear what I was saying? Because I was asking you why you were pointing a large, blue remote control at me in the middle of our argument. What's going on there?
Are you kidding me? I saw you pull a large, bright blue remote control out of your pants, point it at me, and press a button. Then, immediately afterwards, I noticed I couldn't hear any sound coming out of my mouth while I was speaking. And, weirder still, you were smiling the whole time which would be odd considering the fact that I was calling you a self-centered cocksucker. Then, you pointed the remote at me again, pushed the same button, and suddenly I can hear myself talk. So, I'll ask you again: what's going on there? Why are you pointing a remote control at me? And why do you even have a remote control in your pants, out here in your driveway?
Let me see it. Is it magical? Is that some kind of magical remote?
I'm calling the police. You are a menace, and I will never forget this. You're worse than my last neighbor, Bruce Almighty.
HOW TO DEMAND SOME PRIVACY.
Lisa has been promising to give me a tutorial in Final Cut Pro, so I can finally wean myself off iMovie for video editing. The only problem was creating a video project together that we could make the subject of the lesson. From my infinite maturity and depth, that project emerged. Here's "A Little Privacy":
HOW TO TAKE A NATURE HIKE.
Being that we were visiting North Carolina and we'd already exhausted most of our other leisure activities—sittin', settin', whittlin', nappin' and klannin'—Lisa suggested we take a nature walk. That seemed like a pretty good idea, sort of a ready-made anecdote as I pre-counted our trip to the semi-rural South. If someone were to ask how we spent our time in North Carolina, I could very easily picture myself replying, "we went to church and took a nature walk." That would hold up in court, and it was the kind of itinerary that would perfectly satisfy the inquiry. We took a nature walk in the South. Yes, that data computes well with my New York experience and my book/tv/film understanding of the South. Small talk, fulfilled! (This is how we will all speak when the robots take over.)
We drove to the site of our nature hike, behind the Campbell University's physical plant building. Judging from the head of the trail—a cruelly twisted, shadowy mouth, overgrown with unidentified foliage—this was not going to be very promising. I grew up near the 5 Rivers nature preserve. We would drive there every summer, hike the trails, and then visit the small museum so my brother and I could spend a few minutes staring at a sleepy snake in an aquarium. (As a boy, you are required to spend as much time as possible giddily obsessing over things that can violently kill you. Guns, tanks, crossbows, piranhas, dinosaurs, cobras, sharks, scorpions, spider, draculas—stuff like that.) At 5 Rivers, the trails had clear markers. They had maps posted behind plexiglass at the trail head. Tiny signs were placed throughout identifying flora and fauna, with stern warnings against hand-feeding chipmunks your gorp or rubbing poison ivy on your wiener. They had stairs made of logs! And the trails had great, ancient-sounding names designed to make you feel like you're walking in the moccasin-sheathed feet of Native-Americans.
This trail had none of those noble qualities. Just a hand-written sign on oak tag that said, "NATURE HOLE" with a scary witch-finger pointing into the darkness. It looked not so much like a place to enjoy nature; more like a place to deposit a sawed-off girl torso in a suitcase. So, in we went. We proceeded with caution, as it was the only way to move through the thicket. Lisa took the lead (thankfully) and, within seconds, she began expressing her fear and disgust. It sounded like this:
SFX: foot crunching on twigs
Lisa: Oh, gross! Look out!
SFX: car ignition firing.
That's about how long our nature hike lasted. Lisa and I walked approximately 12 feet into the nature hole and, after gingerly peeling several tricky branches out of our path, including one serving as a roost for a very stoic slate-colored beetle, we simply turned around and called it a day. We patted each other down, to remove nettles and cobwebs, then retreated to our Volkswagon Beetle, lightly traumatized. Then we drove a few miles out to Lake Small. (Yes, that's it's name. I think "Lake Small" would make a great title for Greatest Hits album from the Assponys.) Lake Small was a filthy pond, all green and stagnant water loaded with phosphate-nutured algae.
Unlike the nature hole, Lake Small had plenty of signage. Every 15 feet or so a sign was posted instructing nature lovers that this was a strict "NO SWIMMING" zone. These signs were incredibly unnecessary, of course: if someone were to enter Lake Small it would not be with the intention of swimming. The signs should have said, "No Discarding Recently Used Murder Weapons or Babies" or "Yeah, We Know. We Don't Need You To Tell Us We've Got A Problem, Hippie."
It took us about 5 minutes to circumnavigate Lake Small, proving at least part of its name correct. We figured a minimum of one complete circuit was necessary to count as our nature hike. Afterwards, we drove to the ShortStop convenience store for Little Debbie Fudge Rounds and Cow Tales —the one leisure activity we'd left off our list.
HOW TO MAKE IT HOT, HAIRY AND FUN.
Last night's NYC Beard & Moustache Championships was a huge surprise. I really thought it was going to be a silly, fun novelty event but by the time I arrived at The Knitting Factory, it was an absolute madhouse of real and fake facial hair and professional-looking camera equipment. The event seemed to have better media coverage than the recent immigrant worker protests, and why shouldn't it have? I mean, some of those beards and moustaches were downright crazy!
I spent a great deal of time wandering around backstage, sweating bullets and bewildered. Very hard to know where to focus my eyes? Should I look at the swilling audience on the main floor? The crazy German guy with the Dr. Suess moustache? The guy who looked like Andres du Bouchet as Franky "No Pants", if Andres were inclined to grow the worst facial hair possible? The clusters of middle-aged men dressed as Confederate soldiers? (Note: there seems like a lot of overlap between the worlds of Civil War Re-Enactors and Competitive Facial Hair Growers. Wouldn't have guessed that.) Or the huge group of bearded female dancers, crowding out the entire green room as they got ready for their opening number?
My girlfriend is lucky, because she does not sweat. It's a medical mystery, but it's true. She was squashed right against the lip of the stage with her fancy camera, and not a single drop of perspiration dampened her nice face. I, on the other hand, do 99% of my sweating through the face and head. Combine that with the crowd and the fact that the air conditioning was not working, and by the time I got onstage and put a microphone in my hand I was a walking cautionary tale for the dangers of electrocution.
This was the first time I'd ever performed in front of a rock audience, and it was pretty insane. (With the insanity definitely tipping toward the good kind, rather than the fetal position and crying jag kind.) Rowdy and crowded, pressed all the way to the back walls. It's hard to know how to react. My first impulse, honestly, was the same kind I have when I'm standing at the edge of rock face, looking out over the landscape from a perilous height: I wanted to jump. I wanted to jump right into the crowd and let them swallow me up. I kept fantasizing about doing it, and curling up on the floor while they completely enveloped me, like a giant set of noise-canceling headphones. (In fact, one of the first things I noticed when I got onstage was the number of people up close, armed with digital cameras. I assessed them and decided it would be a bad idea to jump. I mentioned this to the audience, but I really wonder if it's more difficult for musicians to stage dive these days. I honestly believe most of the people in the audience would not catch the performer, for fear of damaging their very expensive camera equipment. As if involving themselves in the experience would somehow infringe upon their ability to photoblog the event later.)
All in all, the crowd was very cool. There was one guy who was sort of light-heartedly heckling, but it was completely reasonable within the context of the event. Besides, it would be extremely silly to get worked up about a dude who consciously chose to wear sunglasses indoors—a decision so self-damaging it kind of cancels out any abuse you might choose to heap upon others. (Seriously, are there any men's magazines still giving permission to wear sunglasses indoors? I can forgive the out-of-town dorks who roam St. Mark's Place on the weekend for committing this sin, but a local? Your friends are too kind to you.)
I was hosting the "BEST BEARDS" category, and was asked to prepare 4 minutes or so before introducing the contestants. I was actually at a loss, so decided at the last minute I'd just do a little research and write up some Beard Facts. I read some of these, but not all. There was a lot of show to get to, after all:
BEARD FACT: The most popular style of beard in America is known as the Van Dyke, named after the Flemish painter Sir Anthony Van Dyck. The least popular beard style is The Wisconsin Fuckface.
BEARD FACT: Other notable beard styles you may see this evening: Mutton Chops, The Donegal, The Musketeer, The Great Emancipator, The Confederate Sympathizer, The Pretentious New York Jew, The Jazzfunk Keyboard Player, The Six-Month Mistake, The Vagina Dentata, The Scratchy Patch, The Disgrace of Ireland, The Flavor Savor, The Clam Catcher, The Slop Mop, The Poontang Preserver, The Herpes Hideout, The Sovereign Independent Nation of Billy Ray, The Unemployable In This Fortune 500, Daddy's Little Secret, The 50 Year-Old Virgin, The Bad Guy From Robocop Who Got All Mutated and Then Hit By a Speeding Car, and The Enchanted Forest of Ungodly Food Stink.
BEARD FACT: According to t-shirts, the price for moustache rides can range anywhere between 25 cents and free, adjusted for inflation. However, the price for beard rides has remained a steady $3.98, and is non-negotiable.
BEARD FACT: Some of history's most famous people have had beards. This list includes: Karl Marx; Fidel Castro; Ulysses S. Grant; Leo Tolstoy; Moses; Fredrick Douglass; Osama Bin Laden; Chuck Norris; Captain Lou Albano; The Doobie Brothers; Dr. Phineas Q. Beardenheimer, inventor of herbal ecstasy; Al Gore, when he got all cool for a second; James Beard; Willie Nelson; that guy on your block who used to always hang out on his front porch with an iguana sitting on his lap, and my high school lunch lady.
RELATED BEARD FACT: Most of the people in the aforementioned list have died from syphilis. The rest surely will. Coincidence?
BEARD FACT: Afraid of flying? Grow a beard. Chances are you will be refused admittance on most domestic and international flights.
BEARD FACT: The name of the only non-bearded member of ZZ Top is "Frank Beard." Ironic?
RELATED BEARD FACT: every article ever written about ZZ Top mentions this fact. What they do not mention is that when the other members of ZZ Top insisted Frank Beard grow a beard, he told them, "Why don't we all discuss this matter over a picnic lunch at Lake Gofuckyourselves?"
EXTRA RELATED BEARD FACT: Frank Beard is prohibited from driving the ZZ Top car indefinitely.
BEARD FACT: If you took all the beards in this room and measured them out, end to end, you would be the most boring person in America.
BEARD FACT: A study in Australia showed that 92% of women and 79% of men would rather not work with people who have facial hair. A related study showed that 98% of men with facial hair would never want to work for your fascist company, anyhow. Rage against the machine, brothers! George W. Hitler, AM I RIGHT???
BEARD FACT: The last officially bearded President of the United States was Benjamin Harrison, who left office in 1893 in disgrace, when it was discovered his beard was made of slaves.
BEARD FACT: Did you know the U.S. Constitution was written on hemp, and that George Washington's false teeth were made of hemp? In fact, everything that isn't glass or metal can be made out of hemp. EVERYTHING THAT ISN'T GLASS OR METAL CAN BE MADE FROM HEMP!! A bearded guy told me that.
BEARD FACT: Growing a beard is the only activity that can be just as easily done both in and out of a coma.
HOW TO SHAVE POINTS.
I am compelled to tell you about a special event of which I am taking part, this evening. It is the NYC BEARD AND MOUSTACHE CHAMPIONSHIP, and I will be one of the performers introducing a category of competition. (I won't tell which category, because that would be cheating.)
There will also be several bands (bearded and non-bearded), comedians (to my knowledge, mostly non-bearded), and celebrity judges. (adorned with varying degrees and configurations of facial hair.) Also, there will be 300-pound moustache made of caramel. No there won't. But there will be lots of other things to entertain you, even if you're opposed to facial hair or the lusty celebration of it.
featuring live music from:
Country Club and the Porn Horns
Curtis Eller's American Circus
and, to introduce and host each category, comedians such as:
and also me (bearded)
From Paper Magazine:
"Looks like the folks behind the New York City Beard and Moustache Championships beat us to the chase and registered the domain name “nycbeard.com” before we could. Damn! Putting that aside, it’s beard and moustache season, people! Head on over to the Knitting Factory this evening as a bevy of comedians (Todd Levin, Nick Kroll, Christian Finnegan, et. al.) make facial hair-related jokes and New York City’s hairiest compete in four different hairy categories. They’re promising “celebrity judges” and appearances from subjects featured in the upcoming doc, “Splitting Hairs,” which follows the United States Beard and Mustache team through Europe. We hear there’s a “Kenny Rogers” category. Hairs to that!"
Tickets available online
HOW TO DOUBLE-DOWN-AND-OVER.
Las Vegas is the only city in America where you can get food poisoning from eating pussy. Sure, the $7.99 ALL YOU CAN EAT advertisements make it sound like a pretty good deal but you've got to remember, at that price, you're going to walk away with a belly-ache.
The source of my food poisoning was much more innocent, though I still can't really pinpoint it—was it the nearly-cooked scrambled eggs in our hotel's $12 Fear Factor Breakfast Buffet or my insane decision to order smoked sable in a shopping mall, from a waiter who had clearly dyed his hair, eyebrows and goatee Magician Black™? In any case, it caused my head to droop at the table during the grand finale dinner for my friend, Cloud, at his Las Vegas bachelor party. As everyone powered through 14 oz. steak slabs, I pecked at the first three bites of Mahi Mahi. (This an entrée known in American steakhouses as either "Ladies' Choice" or "Mr. Panties" or "The Jew" depending on your region of the country.) Instead of going to a strip club to contract diseases or re-establish my dignity, I headed straight back to the hotel and spent the evening shivering and sweating in my Westin® Heavenly Bed®. (On the subject of this bed, my friend Gregg wondered quite correctly if it was a little too comfortable. I understand what the Westin Hotel was trying to do with this bed, but it felt a little desperate. Sleeping in the bed was like being in a relationship with someone who likes you much more than you like him/her. "Just stay one more minute! I LOVE HUGGING YOU, SUPER CUTIE!!!" Crazy nervous laughter/tears, etc. All that comfort was a little off-putting. The bed was holding me back.)
The next morning I woke up feeling like someone had kickboxed my kidneys all night long. I guess they were just working overtime to expel all the poisons I'd ingested the previous day. I couldn't stand up, couldn't fall asleep, and even the usually soothing sounds of the McLaughlin Group proved noisome, grating, and elderly. (By the way, it's 2006. So why does the McLaughlin Group still look like it was recorded on Betamax by members of the high school AV club? It's weird to watch current events show that looks like archival footage.) The only thing that could rouse me was the increasingly frequent bathroom alarm firing in my brain.
In fact, the only way I could scrape myself out of Heaven® was through Cloud's special delivery package of Immodium. Immodium should be illegal. That might be regarded as an unfair assessment of the medicine, particularly since it was the only thing capable of getting me on an airplane home, but I really do believe it. This medicine works in the most unnatural, and physiologically counter-intuitive ways. It basically tells your body, "Hey, I know you're trying really hard to expunge all of those toxins but what would you say to this? I was thinking maybe you could keep all that poison inside you for another week or so, just kind of festering there, because, to be honest, this guy's gotta make a flight. ENJOY!" That's what Immodium does. My body's complete reversal was so swift that it actually shocked me and I'm guessing that single dose of Immodium probably just stripped three years off my lifespan.
I had a really nice time at the bachelor party, insulated against the seedier parts of Las Vegas. (Though there was a very long, thoughtful, and detailed discussion about how to get some livestock into our hotel room. No one was certain how to approach this subject, though all agreed it was definitely approachable in Las Vegas. My suggestion was to create a comfortable line of questions with the hotel concierge, beginning with, "What's your hotel's policy on pets?") In a way, the food poisoning was a streak of good luck. My illness caused me to avoid the awkwardness and discomfort of confronting many of the city's more renowned pleasures—hookers, strippers, blackjack, prime rib buffet bars, drinking cocktails from a large football-shaped cup, M&M's world, and letting Danny Gans come in your hair. In the end, it was a pretty chaste vacation, but there were still some things that, to quote their tourism campaign, "stayed in Vegas." And by "some things" I mean 34 gallons of my poisoned excrement.
HOW TO GET UP IN OUR PRESIDENT'S GRILL.
Despite some late-career missteps, Neil Young is still one of my favorite singer-songwriters of all time. However, I just heard his new single, "Let's Impeach the President," and I have to say FOR SHAME, MR. YOUNG. FOR SHAME!
Not only does the song display less lyrical subtlety and finesse than Eminem's "Mosh," or even Toby Keith's, "Round Up Some Sandniggers (and Rape Them With Old Glory)," it also contains the laziest protest song rookie mistake imaginable: sound bites.
Maybe Neil Young felt like a song titled "Let's Impeach the President" wasn't telegraphing its message clearly enough, so he chose to include several clips of George W. Bush saying horrible, stupid, callous things. And, while I'm sure the selection of GWB clips that fall under the "horrible/stupid/callous" category was temptingly abundant, it doesn't mean Young had to pull a Negativland on us. He's a great songwriter and, as far as I know, fairly capable of penetrating the consciousness of music fans without resorting to sprinkling his song with audio samples of our President saying, "I made a poopie!"
I hate that I hate this song. And I hate that Pink (and the 4 Non-Blondes lady) wrote a better protest song than Neil Young. But most of all I just hate this song. It reads like a rough draft, a checklist of "Things That Make Me Mad." Katrina? Got it. Using religion to swipe an election? You know it. A nation divided, laws broken, an unjust war? Check, check, check. Steroid legislation? Yes in—WHAT?!! That's right. The song's final verse:
Thank god he’s cracking down on steroids
Since he sold his old baseball team
There’s lot of people looking at big trouble
But of course the president is clean
This seems like a really strange way to close the song. Or did Neil Young make a list of Bush's crimes against the world, and accidentally sort them in descending order of importance? It seems like, in the great canon of errors and felonies this administration has committed since 2000, the President's emphatic and distracting focus on steroids is not very high on the list. I always thought of the anti-steroid campaign as one of those small items on your to-do list that you check off while avoiding the more abstract and difficult to grasp, larger items. For instance, "send mr80smemorabilia a PayPal payment for the Parker Lewis Can't Lose DVDs" is an easy and satisfying item to check off vs. "stop feeling ashamed of your genitals." For Bush, it was "get working on that whole steroids dealie" vs. "learn to read." (Snap!) I think Bush is that kind of person, really good at tackling the small details (like reading goat-related books to schoolchildren, and making sure gays are oppressed forever in America) but really flustered by the broader strokes (multi-trillion dollar deficit, education, dying planet, etc.).
Finally, I would be totally remiss if I didn't draw your attention to the fact that Neil Young meaningfully set the words "Thank God" apart from the rest of the song, making it a kind of chin-stroking-and-head-nodding punctuation. This was possibly the song's single lowest point. "Thank God." GET IT? Because George Bush believes in God so the word "God" is in there, sort of ironically, but not very clearly so. Honestly, my collection of middle-school poetry was less didactic. And yes, that collection was titled, "Nocturnal Depressions."]
I am all for incendiary critiques of our President; God knows (get it???) he invites it, at least once a day. And I know we're supposed to be united in our disappointment in the current administration, which sometimes extends to awkward benefits and pretending to agree with John Kerry's recent May 15th plan for getting out of Iraq. (What a novel and potentially catastrophic idea. Thanks for reminding me why I stopped donating cash to your web site, Senator.) And of course I do feel somewhat lousy calling the writer of "Old Man" out for a well-meaning protest song that was obviously the product of a tremendous amount of frustration. It's just that I guess I look to people like Neil Young for crossover songs that actually pierce the thick skins of Americans who might not generally be open to criticism about the Bush Administration. (All 32% of them, I guess.) I just didn't expect him to write the 21st Century's version of "19."
HOW TO RETURN TO THE OLD STANDARDS.
About once every three years I become convinced that my testicles are poisoned, and that I am dying from it. It is not an STD-generated fear, though STD-hysteria has occasionally factored in over the years. Maybe it's because my testicles seem paradoxically important and vulnerable. Or because my testicles are so unknowable. Or possibly it's because I'm a tremendous narcissist who craves attention so much that he would pay any price to have a total stranger closely examine his most intimate parts. I just don't know! (Which is why I favor option #2 re: my vastly unknowable balls.) Whatever its source, as James Frey has his irrepressible Fury, I have the Fear. And, again like Mr. Frey, my Fear is largely the product of a vivid imagination that I will go to any length to pass off as non-fiction.
A couple months ago the Fear returned like clockwork and, after consulting with my physician, I became convinced that something must be done. Someone else must take a good, long, hard look at my testicles. So I made an appointment for a testicular sonogram. A testicular sonogram, or "TS" as its known in industry lingo, is kind of like an ultrasound for pregnant women. The primary difference is instead of staring a monitor and seeing a fuzzy image of the miracle of life beginning to take form, with a TS you stare at a fuzzy image of your balls. Just sitting there, not doing much. No wiggly baby-fingers or heartbeat. Just a tiny little island of balls in a sea of VGA blackness. My little babies.
When my name was called from the waiting room of the Radiology clinic, I put away the copy of What's Inside Your Chest Cavity Magazine, and walked to the back of the office where I was greeted by a tiny, middle-aged Russian woman. She instructed me, "Go there and take off bottom. Leave on tops, remove all bottoms. You can keep socks." Then I was ushered into a changing closet while she prepped the examining room for our "date."
To reinforce the Radiology clinic's cheery "Illness Is Dehumanizing" patient care initiative, the changing closet was appointed with the existential grimness of an IT guy's dream office. It was beige and windowless,with a dismantled Radio Shack computer piled up in one corner and several old Dilbert comic strips taped to the walls, yellowed and brittle with age. The only distinctions it had were an open cardboard box filled with disposable gowns and a full-length mirror mounted to one of the walls.
The mirror was an unnecessary extravagance, in my opinion, because I sincerely doubt I would need (or want) to see myself in a full-length mirror, wearing nothing but a hooded sweatshirt, t-shirt, and brown socks. It is not a good look. In fact, it's probably the second-worst look; add a wizard hat and it's officially the worst look. You should never be in a position where you're a wizard hat away from the worst possible look a man can ever present.
The fully dressed top with no bottoms look was popularized by Porky Pig. And, if my memory of the Looney Toons universe serves me well, Porky Pig was not a cartoon character who commanded a great deal of respect. Kids weren't clamoring for Porky Pig t-shirts and lunchboxes, and I don't know anyone who ever yelled at his television screen for Bugs Bunny to "stop pulling focus from Porky!" He was, after all, a bald, stuttering, pig who walked around with his pants off. Not much to relate to there, particularly when he was competing with He-Man and the Superfriends for your Saturday morning cartoon attention. I think I had more respect for Rubik The Amazing Cube than I did Porky. At least Rubik knew how to get things done, as long as that genius kid molested him into a solved state first.
I do remember Porky Pig's many embarrassing attempts to court Petunia Pig and thinking, Man, he's got to tighten up his game. No one should see your scrotum before the first date. It's common sense, but it's amazing how often we forget it. No one is going to give her heart to you in full if all she can think about is, "Do I really want this guy sitting on my furniture?"
So there I was, Porky Pigging It (you're welcome, Wikipedia) and staring at my own embarrassing reflection. It occurred to me that the mirror might have been a page ripped straight from the book of Marines Special Forces boot camp—a psychological pummeling designed to completely tear down your sense of self in order to better prepare you for the degradation that awaits you in the next room.
With my legs bare, my feet socked, and a blue, paper gown covering my genitals, I was led into a room with some outdated equipment and a cold examination table. The Russian lady was kind of enough to turn my bed down, dragging a clean sheet of butcher paper across the exam table. She told me to lie down and spread my legs a bit. I obliged.
Then she went to work on the paper belt securing my gown. I had double-knotted it for safety so she was having some difficulty. She was spending a lot of time down there and it was making me uncomfortable, so I offered to help. ("Here. Let me get that.") This in turn, made her uncomfortable, which made me even more uncomfortable. Because of the goal of this operation—to expose one's balls—it's easy to accidentally fumble through the motions of something resembling coitus during a procedure like this, even when your partner is a near-midget Russian woman in corrective shoes who makes your penis want to cry.
Eventually we reached the actionable point of our meeting: my balls were out. And, once out, the Russian elf jammed a large sheet of white paper between my legs. The paper had a circular hole in the middle, large enough to slip my scrotum through. (Coincidence??!! As an aside, I would like to say the award for Most Demeaning Job in the Medical Industry goes to whomever is charged with quality control to make sure those paper-holes have been properly cut.) With my scrotum shaft concealed beneath the paper, and the rest of my body covered in sweatshirt or socks, all that remained exposed was one genuine set of balls. I take back all that stuff I said about Porky Pigs and wizard hats; this is the worst fashion choice a man can make, hands-down. I have some friends who think nothing is funnier than swinging their scrotum out of their zipper and then posing for pictures with oblivious strangers, but those guys are wrong. It looked like a groundhog scared of its shadow.
Once out, the technician wasted no time in covering my balls in conductive jelly, and working them over with electronic paddles. She spent about 15 minutes doing this and exhibited neither a sign of disgust (I can't say the same for me) nor pleasure. In fact, it seemed like she'd gone numb from the sheer volume of testicles she sees on a daily basis. I wonder if she goes home at night and writes in her diary: "Tuesday. More balls today. So many balls...I feel as though I am chained to the wheel of life, except the wheel is just some balls instead. Not to undermine the metaphor or anything..."
Obviously, during a procedure like this there's not a lot of room for small talk but that didn't stop me from trying. I guess I thought conversation would lessen the singular awkwardness of lying on a table with your balls covered in jelly while your testicles are broadcast on television. As I searched my brain for suitable chitchat subjects it kept rolling back on the obvious. Finally I asked, "Just curious. On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate my balls?" I thought it would be funny until, without even looking up to acknowledge me, she dead-panned back, "seven-point-three."