Go home. Navigate away. Read something else.
I’m warning you: do not read this blog post. Just don’t. You can read the next one, how’s that? Read all of them after this. Just skip this one, ok? Ok.
You’re still here.
The title of this post is “TMI”. That’s a TLA (three letter acronym) for Too Much Information, a subtle warning that I’m about to write down things you don’t want to read about. Go ahead and stop reading now.
You really think you want to read this, do you?
What if I tell you it has a lot to do with my private parts?
You’re really still reading this?
Ok, fine. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, though. I promise I’ll attempt to make the connection between my balls and wine as seamless as possible. Wish me luck.
This is your last chance to stop reading and just go watch SportCenter.
Ok, you asked for it…
Sitting in the waiting room at UNMC, I waited impatiently for my name to be called. Sonja had insisted upon going with me. In line at the counter, I tried my only COVID-19 joke out on the receptionist.
“Have you knowingly traveled into an area with an outbreak of the Corona Virus in the past thirty days?” she asked.
“Don’t I live in one?” I replied.
The receptionist on Monday got super defensive at that one. “They’re all in biocontainment,” she said curtly without looking up from her screen. On Monday there were three cases. Today there are five. Today’s receptionist snickered. “Good point,” she said, and didn’t even make me give a better answer.
We sat around the waiting room, Sonja and I, talking politics and passing the time sipping coffee from our Contigos and watching a mash-up of Donald Trump mispronouncing simple words on my phone. At one point, a woman in scrubs stepped out and called “Mark!” to which I got up and started walking toward the door. However, a man twice my age and three times my body fat who was seated much closer to the door got up at the same time, met her, and was escorted back. I was left standing, looking at the door. Awkwardly, I walked back to Sonja.
“I hope they don’t accidentally give him a vasectomy,” I murmured.
Two-and-a-half years ago I scheduled this surgery for the first time. Then, the morning of, I was walking out of the house when my newborn daughter cried out. I went into her nursery and tucked her blanket around her tiny body, and she smiled up at me for the first time. I lost it, called in, cancelled on the procedure. What if we wanted another kid someday?
Today, we were ready, though Sonja still had some emotions related to the finality of it all. Still, we live in the age of modern medicine, and planning out your family like this is a luxury we have. We like our family as it is, and this procedure felt necessary.
Eventually, I was called back. I was weighed (198 lbs), asked how tall I am (6 foot nothin’), and had my temperature taken (97.2 degrees, which is apparently in the normal range, because I asked). Then I was escorted into a room with a long recliner on it, a pad for blood, a starchy sheet, and told to drop trow. I obeyed, then sat around under the sheet waiting for what came next.
One last time, you really don’t have to keep reading this. Why would you want to read this? Don’t you have something else to do? I’m sure you do. Go do that instead. I’ll write another, far less intimate post soon. You can read that one twice. Go on now. Go dust something, would you?
In walked the doctor I’d met with the other day. Last time, he’d been accompanied by a pimply intern. This time, he was accompanied by Dr. Jessica Rabbit. Apparently both of them would be attending to sterilizing my wrinkly old balls today. Cool. Fortunately, it was cold in the room.
“What kind of music do you like to listen to?” asked my doctor.
“Uh… I like the theme song to The Office,” I quipped.
“How about classic rock?” he asked.
“What was that song Jim and Pam walked down the aisle to?” asked Dr. Rabbit. Steppenwolf came on in the background. I focused on my phone.
“Now, you’ll feel just a little pinch,” said my doctor. You hear this phrase a lot, don’t you? I hear it every time I give blood or get a flu shot. It had almost become innocuous, until, of course, today, when it was followed by a man jabbing a rusty World War I era bayonet directly into my right testicle. “Shiiiiiiiiit,” I growled between clenched teeth. “Felt that, did you?” asked Dr. Rabbit. “Let the sound take you awayyyyyyyy…” crooned Steppenwolf.
A few moments later, the familiar smell of a branding caused me to perk up a bit. I try not to ask questions I don’t want the answer to, but I couldn’t help myself. “That thing I smell burning,” I began. “That’s me, isn’t it?” “Er…” said my doctor. “Tell me about your kids,” said Dr. Rabbit.
I talked about Titus and Zooey for a while, glad for the distraction. I ached deeply, in the place that all young men might recall aching after being punched in the groin. It’s a very specific feeling and location, and it makes you want to murder the person who did it. It was far from the worst pain I’d ever felt, but it was in the worst place to feel pain.
“All done with that side,” said my doctor.
“That side?” I asked.
“Yep,” he said, a little too chipper for my liking.
“How many fucking sides have I got?” I asked.
“You have two,” came his frank reply.
“Men with three testicles have three,” added Dr. Rabbit.
“Some people have three nipples,” said my doctor.
Suppressing the urge to grab the standards supporting the sheet that separated us and impale one of them with it, I breathed deeply. “I guess I don’t want to be half-sterile,” I replied through touching teeth. It was difficult to tell if Dr. Rabbit’s chuckle was a courtesy or not.
The second thrust of the bayonet was nowhere near as painful as the first, though I still felt it. I suppose that makes sense. I focused on my phone, and when the push notifications stormed in from BBC, NYT, and others, I began to read them aloud. “The World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 a global pandemic,” I informed them. “First time I’ve ever had a patient tell me of a global outbreak during a procedure,” remarked my doctor.
About this time, the best man from my wedding, Tylr, called. I was extremely tempted to take the call. Hey, what’s up? Oh nothing, just having my balls painfully operated on while fully conscious. Just another Wednesday morning in the hood. How about you? Instead, I opted to text him back. “Can’t talk right now. Getting a vascectomy.” I texted back. Still a pretty good reply. “This is by far and away the most unique conversation we’ve ever had,” he responded at one point. Our ensuing texts are not appropriate even for this blog post.
More burning flesh smell and more aching ensued. The doctors’ heads appeared from behind the sheet that presumably prevented me from seeing my bloody, burning scrotum. “Don’t go running for a few days, ok?” my doctor reminded me. Two days was our negotiated deal; he’d originally told me no nothin’ for a week, but I said forget it and may have exaggerated my running prowess.
I got up gingerly and got dressed. The nurse gave me a paper bag with some notes and a plastic up in it. She told me I was supposed to ejaculate into the cup in three months or twenty-five ejaculations, whichever comes first, and then return the cup for testing to be sure the surgery took. “I could have it back to you tomorrow,” I offered. “See you in three months,” she replied.
“I nearly ran after you to tell you not to do it,” Sonja told me in the waiting room. I just looked at her. She’s forty in August. We’re done having kids. Still, I understood the sentiment. Having kids is amazing. She drove me home.
On the way I texted a friend who had a vasectomy years ago, which did not take. He has served as a cautionary tale ever since. “Turns out getting an injection in your balls isn’t as much fun as it sounds,” I texted him. “Been there done that,” he responded.
Back home, Sonja pulled a hard, jagged block of ice in a bag from the freezer, and I looked at her as if she had just plopped a boar’s head down on the kitchen island. “How about a bag of peas?” I asked. We settled on stir-fry vegetables, which you may want to remember the next time you come to dinner at our home. It was just past noon. I poured a stiff drink, snagged the water chestnuts to ice down my water chestnuts, and headed upstairs. I wrote a grant application, took 800 milligrams of ibuprofen, and read a few posts on Twitter before Sonja showed up with lunch.
The salad was mixed green, bacon, pickled beets, hard-boiled egg, sunflower seeds, and poppy seed dressing — perfect, while the wine was a Chardonnay from Jed Steele, my hero in Lake County who Sonja and I will visit this summer. The 2017 Cuvee Chardonnay is terrific, blending grapes from six distinct vineyards — Bien Nacido and Goodchild in the Santa Maria Valley, Sangiacomo, Durell, and Parmelee-Hill in Napa’s Carneros AVA, and Lolonis Family in Mendocino. The butteryness of malo, creamy mouthfeel, hints of green apple and citrus, this thing is so varietally correct it will make your head spin! Eight months in 20% new French oak, Steele made 9,500 cases of this flagship in 2017, and I’m glad I got my hands on some of it. The tasting notes say to pair it with halibut in white wine burre blanc sauce, which sounds amazing, but I thought it also paired magnificently with a simple salad and icing down my cauterized balls with a half-thawed bag of frozen vegetables. When it comes to wine pairing, to each their own I guess.
So there you have it — I hope you’re happy with yourself. I told you not to read this and you did it anyway. And what do you have to show for it, eh? A review of a gorgeous chardonnay and intimate knowledge about my pitiful outpatient surgery; the knowledge that, like an overly filtered wine, I am sterile. The next time I write “Don’t read this post,” you’re going to listen, aren’t you?
You know, the truth is, you could not have read this, but I could just as easily have not written it. But in reality this platform, this space, has become important as a journal and as a form of catharcis. What started as a wine blog with interviews and insights and formal reviews has become merely a means for me to communicate with people I love and care about, to say hi, quip about wine, share about my life, and hear back from them about theirs. And in the process, it has grown to more than 1,200 followers, so apparently that’s what it’s supposed to be. Thank you. Thank you for reading — even when I ask you not to. Thank you for being part of my life, and being interested in what I have to share about my family, wine-related or otherwise. I write these things in part for me, but also in large part I write them for you. Maybe you, too, will have surgery soon, or maybe you’re just looking for the perfect Chardonnay to pair with a kick in the balls. Whatever it is, I’m happy to help, and I’m honored that you turn to me for what you need. Now excuse me — I need to go get down and dirty with a bag of frozen mangos. Until next time!