"Come over here," I said when I heard the rattle of the shower curtains
being drawn back and the faucet squeaking off. I was reading, lying on my
back on his bed, my legs in the air and the soles of my feet perpendicular to the ceiling. He approached me warily. I put the book down and pulled his towel off.
"What's all this?" he asked as I inspected his warm, small, uncircumcised
"It's a new yoga position I just learned." I lowered my legs, then
brought them back up. "Strengthens the lower abs. But it's hard to maintain
for long." I pulled back his foreskin, touching him gently, as I drew my
knees into my chest.
He sighed and looked at the ceiling. "Why?"
I tugged on him a little bit and drew the skin down like a shade. He has
known me quite a while, and by now tolerates my many physical and emotional
analyses with a certain cheerful resignation. "I just wanted to see it
close up, in its, well, natural state."
"And? Any conclusions?" He moved closer.
"Nope," I said, and rolled onto my stomach, returning to my novel.
"Just that I don't know how you men deal with all that extra skin. It is truly
He is of course another Unsuitable Celt, of which I seem to have an
endless supply, much to my friends' amusement. The fact that I won't acknowledge my obvious penchant sends them into gales of laughter, until
one of them, my British friend Jane, remarked quite seriously, "I think it's just that she doesn't like circumcised penises."
Could it be? Clotheswise, I have always had an aversion to men in
turtlenecks, but I'd never thought I had a preference about the penile
equivalent until recently.
"Listen to this," I said to him, and put my book down again.
"This is kind of a strange story. Lucinda called me the other day. Her
father, who is 62 years old, just got circumcised. She said that her mother had held a grudge against him for years for his uncircumcised penis and sex with him had become 'challenging' and 'difficult.' The extra skin got in the way and it was starting to dry out."
We both looked at his penis, now curled inward like a small frightened
"Anyway," I continued, "the doctor recommended it and then, snip,
snip. A little pain, but no big deal. And her mother told her she likes it much
better now. 'Very nice,' she said to Lucinda."
He shuddered. "Yecchh."
"Yeah, that's what she said. But she was more grossed out about the
thought of her parents' having sex than anything else."
I considered. As women, we're usually not versed on the mechanics
of the penis, and in particular that extra cowl of skin. Most penises look ugly, abnormal, and are considered to be too hopelessly connected to the male
brain to be given much thought by the female collective. But it seemed lately, as I moved into that excruciating phase of life when my friends were pairing off and procreating, that to cut or not to cut had become a serious topic of discussion.
"In my country," I began, as he sat down and rearranged the bedclothes
around his torso, "couples have serious arguments about their little boys'
penises. You'd think the men would be anti-cutting, feeling sympathy pains
and all that, while the women would be pro-cut, citing hygiene. Well, it's
just the opposite." I paused and patted his hand. "Don't worry -- it won't
be on the citizenship test."
He leaned against the wall and scratched his cheek. "In my country, we
don't discuss it."
"My other friend Renee thinks uncircumcised penises are very unhygienic
looking," I said. "On the other hand, my European friends think they're
just the norm. Maybe it's all cultural. Let's call Jane." I reached for
the phone. "It's what, 4 in the afternoon in London? She should be home."
"Don't worry. I'm putting it on my calling card."
"No, go ahead and dial direct, but that's not --"
"Jane?" I said as she picked up. "It's me. Remember what you said
about my Celt-o-Meter?"
"Hello, love," she said. I could hear her stirring something.
"About the penises."
"Not again," I heard her boyfriend, Trevor, say in the background.
"What is this, the Foreskin Hot Line?"
"Shush," Jane said. "We're making lunch," she told me. "Bangers and
mash! No, not really. But what about it?"
"We never really talked about the female European view." My boy slumped
down and pulled the sheets over his head. I petted him sympathetically.
"Well, as a true Brit Girl, I found all that skin very normal,"
Jane said. I heard her taste something. "What was that? Oh, right. Trevor says until Nick Jacobs. That was the first, um, Happy Helmet I ever saw. No, the
second. I remember in Spain, lying on the beach, observing all the penises
when one walked by. I just thought, 'Gosh, it looks so weird.' So, so ...
bald, or revealed, or humiliated."
I heard Trevor mumble something in the background. "Oh, right,"
Jane said. "Trevor said when he was a little boy he was afraid his willy would drop out if he pulled it back, and eventually he had to ask his mum about it.
And my mum, well, she always said that she thought uncircumcised penises
look really nice and clean because they're covered up, meaning that ugly
scary thing called a willy is hidden."
"The mothers really seem to be weighing in on this issue," I
I heard her slurp something again. "Well, I have to go now, my
sweet. The bolognese sauce is done, the pasta is al dente. Why don't you run down to the shops and pick up a packet of sausages now?" she asked Trevor,
giggling as we said our goodbyes and hung up.
"Hello?" I said to the mound of comforter and sheets beside me. "Anyone
still there?" He'd bravely put up with enough analyses for one day. Now it
was time for research. I reached underneath and groped around. "You know,
despite what Jane says, it's all the same to me when it's up and running. "
I nuzzled my head between his legs and kissed him. "You see, the turtleneck
has been shed."