Cole Gamble, who has both a foreskin and a happy sex life, never thought his wife would demand that their son get circumcised.
I am an uncircumcised man.
This has never bothered my wife, Nicole. Or so I thought. “It’s like your penis is wearing a turtleneck,” she’d sometimes say, benignly.
As such, there was never any doubt in my mind that, should my wife and I ever produce a miniature me, he would also go uncircumcised. We would leave his little thing alone. No snip-snip, just like Daddy.
Until, that is, the late-September day when we brought our newborn son home from the hospital. It was chilly, and the tightly wrapped baked potato of a boy felt warm in the crook of my arm.
“We’re getting Dalton circumcised,” my wife said as she fastened the potato into his car seat.
“What?” I said. “Since when does he need that?”
“Ever since uncircumcised penises are weird.”
She paused before adding, a little backpedally, “Except yours, of course. Yours is OK.”
This is how I learned my wife’s true feelings about the type of penis I have—by comparing it to our infant son’s. She thinks—has always thought—“OK.” I knew what “OK” meant, of course. “OK” meant weird, just like she’d said.
She’s not the first person to feel iffy about foreskin. Just look to the message boards, where uncut penises are routinely denounced as “gross.” “I honestly saw one and almost passed out,” reads one poster’s typical response. On Seinfeld, Elaine once bemoaned the uncircumcised penis’ lack of “personality.” I’m well aware of this uniquely American repulsion. But my wife? I’d just assumed she was a freak for the foreskin. Turns out I’m the freak, and she’d just learned to live with it.
Confronted with this bombshell, I began to obsessively review the entire history of our relationship with half the self-esteem and twice the paranoia. Our wooing period, our first sexual encounter, our wedding day—behind those smiling, devoted eyes, she was picturing my uncircumcised penis and thinking, My God, that thing’s strange. Am I really going to spend the rest of my life with this bizarre dick? Suddenly my genitalia—to my mind, a cornerstone of our relationship—was not a resplendent totem to celebrate, but a deformity to grin and bear.
“There were plenty of girls before you who voiced no complaints,” I cried, a bit desperately.
“Not to your face,” my wife responded. Touché! “Besides, people are going to make fun of Dalton. Boys in the locker room will tease him.”
Nicole’s dad backed up this theory.
“Oh yeah, we’d give a guy like that hell,” Rick told us at dinner a few nights later. I always treasure opportunities to discuss my penis with my father-in-law. Rick’s assertion didn’t jibe with my own experience. I never had a guy in the locker room say to me, “Dude, I’ve been staring at you for a while and just wanted you to know: you disgust me.”
But were they thinking it, and thanking God that their own parents had the good sense to slice and dice theirs at birth? And do the guys at my current gym steer around me in wide arcs, fearing my elongated foreskin is contagious? And what about the girlfriends? Did all the girls who permitted me to get past second base titter together later, sharing horror stories about the first time they saw that thing in the moveable sheath?