Craig Jones Columnist
I was thinking about the earliest scars of my boyhood, the ones which I still wear, the ones which track time, like knowing where you were when JFK was shot or when Abbey Road came out, and came up with two.
Was from scratching the shit out of a mosquito bite when I was at summer camp, before I knew that was a bad idea, and it’s there on my leg to this day. A little white patch. But man, was it fun to dig at it and turn it into a bloody mess.
Was on the first day of sixth grade, and I had a new shirt on and my cousin came by the house on his bike, and I jumped on the handlebars. We were going along great until I got lazy and let my heel get caught in the spokes and flipped the bike ass-over-teakettle spilling us both and gashing my head behind the right ear and getting blood on my new shirt before school even started.
Those were Stupid-Ass Scars
And nothing like as dramatic, or fun to retell, as say the permanent burn mark on my leg from dumping my motorcycle on a gravel driveway at night in the rain going five miles an hour wearing shorts like a dumbfuck because I was in a hurry to maybe get laid (didn’t happen that night). There are various surgical scars and burns and knife cuts on my hands that scarred, the usual assortment I suppose, like most of us.
But as I looked backward in time I realized the very oldest scar of my life, the one I’ve been loving and stroking and adjusting in my pants and being solicitous of and enjoying every single day, many times a day for sixty-six years, is the one on my penis, the one that goes all around it, the one that is mute evidence of an early decision made about my body over which I had no say. I didn’t fuck up and I wasn’t trying to get laid and I wasn’t undergoing lifesaving surgery.
I was born as a male.
The King James version of Genesis 17:13 says:
“He that is born in thy house and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.” The Good News translation cleans up the regrettable reference to slavery and modernizes the language to “Everyone must be circumcised and this will be a physical sign to show that my covenant with you is everlasting.”
However you translate it, here’s what it means. “Hey, how about this for an idea? To show the level of commitment between us, why don’t you start cutting off part of little boys’ dicks. I like that better than, say, a tattoo or a handshake or smoky ritual with smudge. Peel off that part right there and toss it.”
So, wham, there went my foreskin because God loved me so much. A lifetime scar to help me remember. Thanks, cool, I didn’t need that flap of skin anyway.
This is on my mind lately because of a recent trip to Swede, being in the men’s locker room with my son after we took my 2-year-old granddaughter for her baby swim class. There, we were the odd men out, because everyone else was uncut. That had never happened in my life, and it was hard not to notice, even given the quick way men universally size each other up in locker rooms all over the world. Hard not to think about what it would have been like to have that long protective sheath my whole life. What would it feel like to fuck, to clean it, to jerk off, to tuck it into my underpants, to take a piss.
It was in that context that my son and I had a conversation about circumcision and what had led to the decision to have him cut, but not our second son. I never knew that he and his brother had talked about it and compared notes during all those years of growing up together. It makes sense that they would, I just never thought about it. I never really considered how he would feel more self-conscious in American locker rooms, given all the smooth penises around him. I have wondered if his sex life would be any different.
Who can say why parents do the shit they do and out of what operating philosophy. My ex and I not only refused to have our younger son cut, but we also had him at home with a midwife. I know we meant well, attempting to have him and his birth and his dick be as natural as possible, but jeez, one kid cut and the other not? I guess we have prepared him for inconspicuous travel around most of the world other than the US, Israel and Muslim countries.
But at least he is complete and he has no permanent scar on his penis to remind him of some damn covenant he didn’t ask for anyway. My parents did what all American parents did, thinking it was best, which is what we in turn did.
No matter how you slice it, so to speak, the first cut really is the deepest.
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Craig Jones, in addition to being a ‘cunning linguist,’ is a long-time Columnist and contributor to the Legacy Magazine. Catch his muses and insights into the art of living life from gratitude, perpetually answering the question ‘What’s great about this?’ at his writer’s blog Notes from the GratiDude.
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