They're Fighting Back

TO WIT

December 08, 1991|By DAVE BARRY

I want to warn you right away that today's topic involves an extremely mature subject matter that might offend your community standards.

I became sensitive about community standards recently when I wrote a column about a groundbreaking anti-flatulence product called Beano. Some newspapers -- and I do not wish to name names, but two of them were the Portland Oregonian and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch -- refused to print this column on the grounds that it was tasteless and offensive.

Anyway, those readers who have community standards should leave the room at this time, because today's topic is: circumcision. This is a common medical procedure that involves -- and here, in the interest of tastefulness, I am going to use code names -- taking hold of a guy's Oregonian and snipping his Post-Dispatch right off. This is usually done to tiny guy babies who don't have a clue as to what is about to happen. One minute a baby is lying happily in his little bed, looking at the world and thinking what babies think (basically, "Huh?"), and suddenly along comes a large person and snip waaaahhh the baby is dramatically introduced to the concept that powerful strangers can fill his life with pain for no apparent reason. This is excellent training for dealing with the Internal Revenue Service, but it's no fun at the time.

Most of us guys deal with this unpleasant experience by eventually erasing it from our conscious minds, the way we do with algebra. But some guys never get over it. I base this statement on a San Jose Mercury News article, written by Michael Oricchio and mailed to me by many alert readers, concerning a group of men in California who are very upset about having been circumcised as babies. They have formed a support group called RECAP. In the interest of good taste I will not tell you what the P in RECAP stands for, but the RECA part stands for Recover A.

According to the article, the members (sorry!) of RECAP are devoted to restoring themselves to pre-circumcision condition "through stretching existing skin or by surgery." Here is a quotation from RECAP co-founder R. Wayne Griffiths:

"There are a lot of men who are enraged that they were violated without their consent and they want to do something about it. I've always been fascinated by intact men. I just thought it looked nicer. I had friends growing up who were intact. I thought, 'Gee, that's what I'd like to be.' "

The article states that, to become intact again, Griffiths invented a 7 1/2 -ounce skin-stretching device that "looks like a tiny steel barbell," which he taped to the end of his Oregonian and wore for "four to 12 hours every day, except weekends, for a year." Using this method, he grew himself an entirely new Post-Dispatch. Other RECAP members are involved in similar efforts. They meet regularly to discuss technique and review their progress.

I'm not sure how I feel about all this. I'm a middle-aged white guy, which means I'm constantly reminded that my particular group is responsible for the oppression of every known minority plus most wars plus government corruption plus pollution of the environment, not to mention that it was middle-age white guys who killed Bambi's mom. So I'm pleased to learn that I myself am an oppressed victim of something. But no matter how hard I try, I can't get enraged about it. I've asked other guys about this.

"Are you enraged about being circumcised?" I say.

"What?" they say.

I have yet to find a guy who's enraged. And nobody I talked to was interested in miniature barbells, let alone surgery. Most guys don't even like to talk about medical procedures involving the Oregonian region. One time my wife and I were at a restaurant with two other couples, and one of the women, Susan, started describing her husband Bob's vasectomy, which she had witnessed.

"No!" we guys shouted, curling our bodies up like boiled shrimp. "Let's not talk about that!"

But our wives were fascinated. They egged Susan on, and she went into great detail, forcing us guys to stick wads of French bread in our ears and duck our heads under the table. Periodically we'd come up to see if the coast was clear, but Susan would be saying, "And then the doctor picked up this thing that looked like a big crochet needle . . ."

So Post-Dispatchwise, I think I'm going to remain an oppressed victim. But don't let me tell the rest of you guys what to think; it's your decision. This is a free country. In most communities.

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