Over Thanksgiving dinner my sister-in-law and I were discussing her two and a half year-old’s newfound fascination with his penis. “When he pees in the bathtub he becomes mesmerized, like he can’t believe it’s coming out of him.” Without a beat I quipped, “And he’ll feel the same exact way twelve or so years from now.” It took my sister-in-law some time to figure out what I was referring to. “Oh?...Oh! Gross!”
I didn’t intend to sexualize her little boy, and I suppose to a woman (and a mother, no less) it’s relatively unfamiliar territory, but the first time a boy ejaculates semen is, for lack of a better term, MESMERIZING! I’ll never forget my first time. I was busy rubbing up against something soft behind my double-bolted bedroom door when, after months of shooting throbbing blanks, BOOYA!, there it was! Only, it was hardly a stream of virility; it was more like a sad little droplet of diluted baby batter. But its implications were nevertheless gargantuan, and I knew this then. I was a man.
There’s henceforth an array of physical rights of passage that most men experience as they pubesce and age -- shaving, growing chest hair, sprouting an upper ass patch, etc. I remember the first time I noticed hair on my toes. Well, it wasn’t I who first pointed it out but a couple of my high school friends. I was lifeguarding on a sleepy beach in Southern New Jersey and I asked my friends -- both girls -- to stop by one particularly drowsy summer afternoon to keep me company. They grudgingly obliged, only after I promised to buy them a case of beer with my infallible fake ID. When they arrived at the beach and saw me perched atop one of those towering lifeguard stands, they almost lost it. My friend, KMH, ever the alpha, grumbled, “What, you’re just going to sit way up there and look down at us the entire time? No way. Get your ass down here.” “I can’t come down unless it’s work related.” “Work related? There’s no one in sight. Well we’re not going to stand around and talk to your feet all day.” That’s when my friend, ABK, surveyed the few, errant, wiry hairs springing out of my big toe. “Eew, sick, look at his toe hair. It’s like a Hitler ‘stache.”
Fast-forward to today.
After one of the worst nights of sleep I’ve had to endure in quite a while I woke up this morning to a new physical right of passage -- one that is not so much mesmerizing as paralyzing. Not so much virile as sterile. Not so much stimulating as utterly deflating.
Cruelly confident in and of itself, resolute, foreboding and unmistakable, there it was (shining in all its glory): the lone gray pube.
I couldn’t believe my bleary eyes. Maybe it was the way the sunlight gleamed on it as I rolled out of bed naked? (Note: I only wake up unclothed after sleepless nights in which I rip off all articles of clothing one-by-one in an insomnolent haze). But after close, closer, *extremely* close inspection, however, I was able to confirm that it was not a healthy and vibrant sheen of my natural hair color but indeed a gray, nay, a white, nay, a whiter-than-white pube. Fucker.
I immediately crawled back into bed to contemplate what this meant. There of course would be more of these. And soon, I’m sure. While wrinkles and gray hair (on one’s head!) may, on a good day, help to “distinguish” a gentleman, there’s nothing at all sexy about gray pubic hair. No one can pull it off. NO ONE. (Sidebar: Google ‘gray pubic hair’ and enjoy what comes up).
So I considered where this sadistic and arrogant pube now left me. No doubt I’m a changed man. Sure, it’s only one pluckable little hair, but the implications of it are huge, and not nearly as exciting as when I first discovered I could procreate. But then I realized -- I could still procreate if I wanted. In fact, I could still do everything I did before, some of it even better than when I was a young man. And, in a way, this gray pube proves it, not to anybody else perhaps but definitely to me. My lone gray pube is actually my body’s way of telling myself that after all these years I’ve earned it, whatever ‘it’ happens to be. And, come to think of it, I have. I have earned it. And I deserve it, too. Thank you. Thank you, lone gray pube, for reminding me of this. You did good, really good. I genuinely appreciate it. Now, goodbye.