In wine, cheese, beer, and tobacco, age almost always has positive implications. Not so, the aging of a man. While in many ways, particularly (hopefully) mentally and spiritually, a man continues to gain and improve, the slow inevitable physical decline weighs on the mind. Strength, speed, power, eyesight, hair, the ability to husk coconuts with your manhood — these are just a few of the areas that experience the decline. However, given the alternative, I’ll suffer them. Begrudgingly yes, but willingly.
At my age, many milestones in life have passed: school, first career, first marriage, kids by the first wife, divorce, second marriage, kid by the second wife. Like the vast majority of fathers out there, I love my kids and consider them the greatest blessings. However, there comes a point when you have to consider your work done and hang up your spurs. There are a few names for when a man voluntarily changes his fertile status, the proper one being “vasectomy”. The one I’m least fond of is “getting fixed”. With four sons to my name, I’m pretty sure things worked just fine, the mother-in-law’s complaints of a seventh grandson notwithstanding. I’m not big on “neutered”, either. What, I’m not a man because I’m not shooting live rounds anymore?
I knew a date with the knife was just a matter of time; having a kid at 45 is a cake walk for a man, but no joke for a woman tip-toeing up to 40. My wife made the appointment. I didn’t particularly fear the event, but I wasn’t necessarily making what she would consider real progress. I recalled my father’s experience, and he didn’t leave me with the impression that it was a pleasant one. Friends joked about frozen peas and made ominous predictions of a painful post-op. The wife gamely picked up a bag. Along with the obligatory releases and waivers, I received a handy little booklet with information about the procedure, including preparation for, and recovery from, the surgery. The day drew near.
I can’t say I’ll ever get used to having another man cup my balls. My doctor was all business, slathering my junk with betadine and a quick swipe of a razor for some focused man-scaping, while we talked about golf. After applying enough local anesthetic to stagger an elephant, he made quick work of my two conduits of life-giving nectar. Honestly, I didn’t see what all the fuss was about; I was in and out in under an hour with little pain or discomfort. The recovery hasn’t been that bad, either. Not because I’m a macho He-Man who shrugs off near-mortal wounds — there truly hasn’t been that much pain. Icing was mostly preventative, not palliative.
Though my physical recovery has gone well, I can’t help but feel a little sadness for this passing of my virility. But stealing from Hemingway, dreams of storms, of women, of great occurrences still remain, even as the scar tissue heals. I have to clear the pipes 25 times before bringing in a sample to ensure the procedure took. The twilight is a long way off, and though my soldiers in white will no longer assault that verdant gate, I still plan many and frequent re-enactments of the battle. With my wife’s assistance, of course.