Happy Vasectomy

on Nov 15 in Essays & Reviews by

I decided to do something a little different for my birthday this year. What with the nomination of Judge Alito to the Supreme Court, I figured the days of elective reproductory surgery without the approval of my spouse may be coming to an end (you’ll just have to excuse the puns). When I called Dr. Charles, of Abington Urological, and found he had a last minute opening for a vasectomy, I jumped.

The vasectomy, I learn in my pre-op counseling session is thousands of years old. It’s an easy out patient procedure. You need to take a day off, maybe two. You can run, have sex, do anything you want a week later. The Greeks did it without anesthesia. Dr. Charles is a very upbeat guy for a heterosexual who is handling male genitalia all day. While it can be reversed, he explained, it’s iffy, so you’d better be sure. “Rest assured,” Dr. Charles told me, “after a few months, you will be shooting blanks.

I enjoy hearing the phrase vas deferens. It reminds me of the way my grandparents might have said, “What’s the difference?”

I don’t really need to consult my wife. Six months ago, Anne and I were surprised to learn we would be having a son. Everybody loves baby Cormac, especially his four older siblings from my first marriage. I was not the guy from high school (or college for that matter), most likely to procreate. It is a miracle to me not just that I have have five children, but that I have conducted myself enough like a father to elicit their love. Sometimes, they even ask me for advice.

Before a vasectomy, one is invited to produce a sample. Much has been written about this odd and embarrassing procedure. There is a wide-mouthed container. A businesslike receptionist whom you know knows you know she knows what’s happening here, and who probably thinks its as funny as you do. Still you pretend its like drawing blood.

The room itself is like a closet. There is a tiny TV hanging over a medical examination table. It is impossible to get comfortable. The tape in the VCR is called Space Vixens and when I turn it on, I see an attractive female alien in a tin foil suit enthusiastically pumping a man’s penis as if expecting it to launch her back to her planet of origin. I do the deed. I wonder how many times they have to replace the videotape. The receptionist thanks me and offers me 20% off if I pay my bill now. It is a $150. hand-job for posterity.

Two days before my forty-ninth birthday, I’m ushered into a operating room. I’m shaved, slathered with pre-operative goo, and covered with one of those blue papery sheets with a six-inch diameter hole. Dr. Charles explains that the most painful of the procedure is the anesthesia needle, and he is absolutely right. As he works, he makes conversation. “What’s the difference between a simile and a metaphor,” he asks, slicing my scrotum and then cauterizing the vesicles. I don’t remember, I tell him, nearly fainting.

All in all, it is an easy procedure. Far easier to recover from, than a hernia. I feel brave when my children show up for the weekend. Considerate as my wife tells her friends why I’m limping a bit. Philosophical as I write this. No one with a sign saying Life Begins in the Sac was picketing the Toll Center as I left, even though 100,000,000 little sailors will no longer swarm ashore each time I climax. My work on this planet is nearly finished.

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