Thursday, May 25, 2006


In Which I Set the Cut-Off Date...

Well, I'm sure you'll all be happy to know I'm in much higher spirits than I was a couple of days ago on my birthday. Yesterday was my parents' 42nd wedding anniversary and I called to congratulate them on going one more year without either of them ending up in court for a divorce hearing—or as a defendant in a homicide case. I've always been slightly amused by the fact that I was almost born on my parents' anniversary. As the Brownie has delighted in telling neighbors that Her Lovely Self and I got married just a week before the day she was born, so I used to enjoy telling people that my parents got married the day after I was born (The idea of it still amuses me, I must admit. Sometimes, I'm easily pleased).

I was on the phone for some time yesterday, talking not just to my parents, but also to my doctor.

Not because I was injured (because I know that's your first thought).

Not because I was sick (because that's your second thought).

No, I just needed a referral.

To a urologist.

For a vasectomy.

A call I really did not want to make on my birthday.

I know, that was a jarring change of subject, but there it is: After more than a few heartfelt conversations about this, Her Lovely Self and I decided we shouldn't push our luck but instead should be glad for the two kiddos we have and, er, cut and run.

Really, I wonder why we--by "we" I mean "guys"--make such a big deal of this. I mean--and no offense to male writers who have done this, because I'll probably end up doing it myself--if you were to Google "my vasectomy" or similar, you'd probably find a ton of magazine articles and blog entries in which guys will write with painstaking detail about some doctor opening their scrotum up and severing their vas deferens, thus blocking sperm from traveling from the testicles and effectively rendering a guy sterile.

What drives us to talk about it? Is it because it's the perennial male sensitive spot and we've just defied all logic by voluntarily permitting--nay, paying--someone to go at it with a scalpel, and some compulsion drives us to share this seemingly paradoxical behavior with others? Is it just that we think it's a good story with an easy wince-factor going for it, and so we tell it to get a cheap gut response? Or are we secretly feeling martyred and want to make sure as many people as possible know that we've saved our partner from undergoing general anesthesia and suffering pretty invasive surgery? I don't have an answer, because I haven't undergone the experience yet. I DO know that, as a listener to and reader of such tales, I've not always been the best audience, if the teller of the tale was looking for a queasy expression and an involuntary crossing of the legs.

I remember being a young fellow at my summer bank job, many moons ago, listening to a loan officer talk about his experience. He just picked a urologist out of the phone book, didn't get a referral, didn't ask the guy how many of these he'd done, nothing. Turned out the doctor had done, oh, about five vasectomies in his career. And he wanted a LOT of room to work with, because he left a two-inch scar in the guy's scrotum and snipped out almost all of the vas deferens. But the best part was that the doctor apparently cauterized the ends of the vas with some kind of super-hot implement that looked halfway between a cattle brand and a glue gun.

"I didn't feel anything, of course," the guy said, "but I watched the whole thing. I'm telling you," he added, in one of the few sentences I remember from the story, "there is something VERY weird about watching smoke come out from between your legs and smelling the smell of your own balls burning."

While I remembered that somewhat hyperbolic statement and I remember the various outcries from other guys listening, as I hinted earlier, I didn't really respond in a way the loan officer would have considered satisfying. Not because I'm a particularly tough or unflappable guy, but because that narrative was not my first exposure to the odd world of vasectomy stories. Indeed, when I was just a wee lad of 7 or 8, I actually witnessed the procedure. It was quite a moment to see up close you know? Sort of eclipses the stories of others. Which is why whenever guys have an urge to tell me their vasectomy tales, I always listen politely to their story and then feel the strong desire to follow up with the story of what happened to Alvin.

Alvin worked for my uncle David and my aunt Barbara back when they owned a small farm outside of town. I guess you could call him a farmhand. That's if he had hands. Alvin was a cat.

Like my Dad, my aunt Barbara--his older sister--was raised with the idea that you kept animals on a farm only if they served a purpose. So when Barbara went to the barn one morning and discovered what she claimed were "rats as big as rum barrels" she and uncle David didn't waste any money buying nonsense such as poison or traps. Instead, David asked around for a cat, a big ol' tom if he could get one. At that time, most anyone who had a barn had an extra cat or two to keep the varmint population down, so it was easy enough to get one for free. Free was a price to David's liking. What was more, he reasoned the cat would be busy catching its own dinner, thus sparing my uncle the expense of cat chow.

I don't know precisely where Alvin came from, I do know his owners were more than willing to get rid of him, not because he was a bad cat. Just the opposite, to tell you the truth. Alvin was very good at his job. Too good, in fact. He had so thoroughly decimated the varmint population on the farm where he lived that Alvin started hunting his owner's chickens. Or to be completely accurate, I should say he was an alleged chicken killer. His owners came to this conclusion themselves only after their chickens--and their chicks, and their eggs and, finally the rooster too--had all vanished, leaving behind only a few bloody feathers. Then one morning they caught Alvin attempting to kill a piglet twice his size (he likely would have succeeded, too, had his owners not intervened) in order to satisfy his enormous appetite.

I know "enormous" is a word I tend to overuse, but it's the best adjective to describe Alvin. He was without a doubt the largest domesticated cat I've ever seen. He was a tabby cat--the black-and-gray stripes were the giveaway--and I know tabbies can grow to impressive size. But Alvin wasn't just large, he was larger than life. Everything about him said BIG, from his stupendous tom-cat testicles--so large you might at first glance assume someone had hung a pair of gray furry earmuffs off the end of his ass--to the deafening purring noise he could generate if he decided he liked you. And for some reason, he liked me. Whenever we visited the farm, Alvin always swaggered over with impressive leonine grace and rubbed against me--an act I had to brace myself for because the first time he did it when I was 5 or 6, he actually knocked me down (I guess I'm lucky he didn't try to eat me).

Since they didn't keep livestock, Barbara and David weren't worried about Alvin killing chickens. The rats were a much bigger concern, and I mean that in every way possible. As Alvin was to ordinary cats, so these rats were to typical rodents. These were rats with tails as long as my arm, New York sewer rats on summer holiday, it seemed. The barn was positively infested with them, had been for years, ever since the town landfill opened on the other side of the ridge from where Barbara and David lived. On a hot day with the wind blowing the wrong way, you could smell the garbage, which explains why my aunt and uncle got such a good price on the farm. They bought it mostly as an investment, knowing that they could stand the stench--it was only garbage--until the landfill was sealed in another 5 years, at which time the stigma of being located near the dump would pretty much be a non-issue and they could sell the farm for twice or three times what they paid (which is exactly what happened).

Meanwhile, they had a more or less unending stream of rats coming over the ridge from the dump and taking up residence in the cozy confines of the barn. When David heard the story of Alvin's exploits with the livestock, he knew he'd found the right cat for the job. The first night that he locked Alvin in the barn must have been like putting a piranha in a bowl of goldfish. In Alvin's first summer on the job, David didn't keep track of how many rat parts he found around the barn, but it was a lot.

Alvin earned his keep, but he was a handful too. Because of his reputation as a hunter, he was implicated in several cases of vanished chickens and at least one dog. Elmer Butcher, a crotchety old bastard from down the street, insisted Alvin had made off with Clowny, his pet Chihuahua, although he was never able to prove it (for the record, my aunt believes the dog simply ran off and got hurt or run over. My uncle, however, believed that Elmer was probably right. He just never bothered to tell him so.).

And two or three times a year, Alvin would pull a disappearing act himself. More often than not, he returned to his old barn, which was more than 20 miles away, a good distance for such a large cat. But a few times in Alvin's first year or two on the farm, my uncle had to retrieve him from the barn or garage or woodshed of someone else in town. It was no mystery why Alvin disappeared. Every single time my uncle had to fetch him, Alvin had been following his nose--or some other appendage--to a cat in heat.

Like the great pharaohs of old, Alvin was father to hundreds of offspring. You didn't need DNA testing to figure out if Alvin was the dad of any particular litter--if they grew big with gray stripes and showed a serious aptitude for hunting, they were probably his. To this day, you can still find oversized gray tabby cats roaming around the town. Residents call them "Alvins" in honor of the great beast himself, although they can't all be descended from him (My parents, however, did have a genuine Alvin cat for many years--a long, lean tabby named Seemore, who was one of Alvin's countless great-great-great-grandsons. Giant cat, head the size of a soccer ball. He was not interested in mice, but was a great slayer of snakes).

Thirty years ago, Alvin wasn't so well thought of in town, I'll tell you that. More than one neighbor had taken a pot-shot at Alvin, not because he was mistaken for, say, a raccoon, but because he had knocked up all their female cats. David was getting tired of the complaints and of having to collect his hired killer from some hayloft or beam while under the baleful glare of an irate farmer.

And so it was that after one particularly annoying morning (during which he had to coax Alvin down from a fairly high rafter in Winnie Colcord's barn), my uncle stomped into the house he shared with my aunt, swearing under his breath and covered in cat hair.

"Time to cut his nuts off," David announced with his usual lack of preamble...

man.. it looks to be very scary/weird thing, to make a vasectomy.. i can't imagine the scene you described on last paragraph: "imagine smoke goin' out between my legs" hehe =P
Well, sorry to hear about your "procedure." It's not an easy decision to make, I'm sure. But I'm getting a good giggle out of the tale (tail?) of Alvin.
Oh god, do NOT go here. Or if you do, warn me about five lines before you get to the part know.

WTF are you doing talking about this?

I'm shrivled up just reading the first part. I got an acorn sitting on top of a Clementine orange in my pants now, you ass!

BB, your post made this entry :D

MM, I'm not sure what to say regarding the vascectomy. I know it must not have been an easy decision, but I'm glad you're both being proactive. It's difficult to leave things up to chance. That's what I've been doing with my hormone treatments for a year and a half now, and the "what if" routine is getting old. I hate the thought of giving up, but at the same time it would be such a relief.

And there's always, as everyone who hears my tale makes great pains to tell me, adoption.

On a lighter note, that was a fantastic place for your infamous ellipsis. Looking forward to hearing the rest of the story :)
Heather, dear, just duck for a second while I smack my brother, up there above you.

YOU BIG FAT TURD! The acorn-clementine line was mine and YOU KNOW IT! Now I have to rewrite a portion of the last part of this story.

Sorry you all had to witness this, but damn, that was a good image and my brother stole it like he used to steal food off my plate. You SHIT!!

Right. As you were...
The post was great, looking forward to the next one, but I gotta say, I love reading your interactons w/ the BB in the comments.
Still laughing.

Shafa just IMed me and asked if I felt a mighty breeze :>

I don't think I've ever had a clever turn of phrase stolen. (Have I ever had a clever turn of phrase?) I'm sure I've stolen quite a few by accident, though :(
You are such a liar. As if your the only one who can come up with good smiles and stuff.

Oh, Heather, guess you better duck again.
"As if your the only one who can come up with good smiles and stuff."

What the f--?

Oh. Oh dear. Did you mean "sImiles"?


I guess technically, yes, it could be a simile, although you generally phrase similes with the word "as" or "like."

As in:

My big brother's male generative organs (if he had them) are so shriveled at this point they are like an acorn sitting atop a Clementine orange.

I'd finesse the sentence if I had more time, but I don't want Heather to come back before I post this. She'd just have to duck again.
Duhhh let me make sure I got this right, Mr. English major.

So it's a simile when I say

When my little brother gets vasectomized, he will be as much LIKE a eunuch as possible while still keeping his tiny balls. Just ask his wife.

Yeah. I can spell eunuch.
I so cannot wait for the remainder of this post.
there is just no other way to say.
"Its time to cut the nuts off ... " :) ... that phrase is going to go on to my wall ... Classic
Hmmm, I kind of predict that Alvin won't be too keen on the whole idea.

BTW, my sister's husband had the v-procedure done years ago and they've been quite happy to have stopped at two kids like you and HLS have decided to do.
I think the comment battle is more than making up for the post. A post in which I found myself gently cradling my own... er... "unit"... and speaking calming words to ease the sympathy pains he was feeling.
Yikes! Big decision, I'll be holding my breath till we hear your through it.

Your description of Alvin reminds me of a cat we inherited when I was 16, Ziggy. My step-dad's tenant's cat; when the tenant moved out and we moved in Ziggy refused to go with his family. So we inherited him. He looked like a lion, big mane, huge paws, and like Alvin he still had his balls. He was also a wicked killing machine. You never knew what animal part you would find on the door step. Ours was the only yard on the island devoid of humming birds. Every spring he had a bald patch under his chin where mum had to trim his mane; it was so full of animal bits and gore there was nothing else for it.

He was such a lovely cat, thanks for making me think of him.
I apologize for doing this anonymously but when you read it, you'll understand why.

as a member of the vasectomy survivors club, I welcome your decision to enter the brotherhood of those whose guns shoot blanks. It does make sex much more relaxing and worry free. But I have three tales from when I had my tubes tied 20 plus years ago.

when I had my vasectomy done, I requested a medication for anti-anxiety. The doctor gave me 10 mg of Valium.

So there I was, sitting in the doctor's office and my wife says "how are you doing".

I replied in a dreamy voice "terrified".

"You don't look terrified" says she.

"but I must be terrified, my heart is pounding." I replied before almost falling asleep.

I must say that some short acting anti-anxiety medication does help and keeps you from running out of the room with your spouse clutching one or both of your ankles as she tries to drag you back.

After you have your tubes tied, you need to, er um "shoot" about 20 times before the last of the little wigglers are gone. Think of this as the period in which HLS can change her mind and maybe succeed.

But one thing the doctor did not warn me about was that my semen would have old, dark red or purple blood in it very early on. Damned near gave she and me a heart attack.

but you cannot count on the little wigglers being gone even after the "cleansing" exercises. You need to give the doctor a sample. Yes, a fresh sample. No more than one or two hours old. Straight from you to the bottle.

Bottle? We asked what kind of bottle. A baby food jar the doctor said.

The universe is truly a strange place. strange enough that you find yourself leaving a brown paper bag with a baby food jar containing a "sample" by the doctor's door before anyone gets there. The doctors office considered this normal behavior.

and last, for quite a while everything was fine and then she skipped a period. it didn't come and it didn't come and the pregnancy test didn't show anything and another "sample" tested clean. her period came and calm was restored until another one did not show. Another pregnancy test, another "sample" showed nothing amiss.

going to the OB/GYN, they discover she's entering menopause and she's not even 30.

the universe is truly a cruel and unusual punishment for all that live in its wonders space
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