When I was 14 years old, my mom apologized for having me circumcised as an infant.
I was in the back seat of the car while my dad was driving, and though I don’t quite remember how the issue came up, I do remember feeling, naturally, horribly awkward about discussing my penis with my parents.
My mom said it hadn’t been explained well by the doctors, and that once the nurse brought me back to her with my “fists clenched and white,” she knew she’d made a mistake.
“I don’t care,” I said. “Can we just change the subject?”
I didn’t even know what an uncircumcised penis looked like. I knew something about skin that would “cover the tip,” but I couldn’t picture where that skin attached. Did it just hang down from the head like a second scrotum or an earlobe?
The mysteriousness turned to a perverse curiosity, and it happened that my first boyfriend, who I dated when I was 19, was uncut. By then I’d learned what to expect by watching porn, but I couldn’t have predicted how turned on I’d be to see an uncircumcised penis in the flesh.
There’s always debate, especially in the gay community, about the ethics of circumcision; many have strong aesthetic preferences for one or the other that seem to seep into their political judgment. To me it became clear what I’d rather be, because, while I could never be certain that my boyfriend felt more sensations than I did, it was damned obvious that he didn’t feel anything less.
I could get him off just rolling his foreskin between my fingers. If I wanted the skin to be taut I could pull it back, and if I wanted it loose I could pull it forward. He moaned and bit his lip the same either way, and I was jealous that I couldn’t feel for myself what he felt.
Image: The New Adam by Harold Stevenson, 1962
Do your pull-ups every morning