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12/31/2004

Circ du no-way

I've been reading the comments about circumcision over at Tertia's with great interest. It all reminds me of a conversation that took place during our childbirth classes. The teacher asked our class — eight couples, all having a boy — whether we planned to circumcise. Seven out of eight planned to cut. Paul and I were the sole dissenters.

The most popular reason was the belief that father and son should have matching parts. The teacher listened to this and then asked, in a sensible tone, "...And how much time did you spend naked with your father?"

"Enough," I asked Paul sotto voce, "or not enough?"

"None," Paul muttered repressively, "and therefore exactly enough."

So you see that father-son Garanimal tackle isn't really a priority for us.

The second most popular reason was the belief that an uncircumcised boy might be ridiculed during the inevitable locker room comparisons. This is apparently a sacred ritual, this adolescent scrutiny. What, you didn't know that teenage boys love to be caught staring at each other's kickstands in the shower? Just good clean schoolboy fun. In fact, I like to think of it as wholesome and stylized, perhaps something like a schoolwide spelldown — a penis bee, if you will.

I'm thinking that if Charlie's peers have to look that hard for a reason to make fun of him, he's probably doing okay.

Cited third were concerns about cleanliness. Of course this forced me to imagine my male classmates in varying stages of cloacal rot, and to conclude that they've never heard of that magical substance, rarer than ambergris, more precious than civet, more exotic than the frankinest of frankincense: soap.

In our house, we are clean people who happen to enjoy handling our genitals. I have no worries as far as hygiene goes.

So, really, none of the top three reasons seemed compelling to us. And while God seems quite avidly interested in what Jews and Muslims do in the dingus department, I've received no word on how pale and WASPy agnostics should handle the situation, though I have an intuitive certainty that whatever we're supposed to do surely involves liquor and a handwritten thank-you note on engraved stationery. Beyond that, God is either silent or passed out drunk after cocktails at the club, one.

Without any strong justification for doing it, then, we decided not to circumcise a boy long before Charlie was born. But until I actually became custodian of a newborn penis — like a regency, I guess, only more, you know, scrotal — I didn't feel particularly invested in the decision, an impartial arbiter on an issue that remained mostly theoretical.

Now things are different. I see the equipment in question. Friends, I am here to tell you: that-there is one tiny penis. You know how in Chinatown you can get your name carved into a grain of rice? It would be like that. You'd need a goddamn jeweler's loupe to perform the procedure. And the steady hands and steely nerve of a neurosurgeon. And nanobots. With lasers.

And, look, I know the baby who'd be affected. In his very short life, Charlie has experienced so much pain and fear that I can't imagine intentionally causing more without a damned good reason. Even if it's not especially painful for a newborn, as some assert, it would hurt me to subject him to a medical procedure that's ultimately cosmetic and elective. Really, we've had about enough.

And if my insurance company wouldn't spring for a lousy freakin' ambulance, I'm pretty sure they won't cover the nanobots, either. So Charlie remains uncut. If the boys in the locker room have a problem with that, they can take it up with me.

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