So. I went and got my yearly physical today, just to introduce myself to a local doctor. This one, I think I like. He told me my weight was totally appropriate. For a mid-range sedan. Oh, I’m not a car? he said. Perhaps I should lose a few pounds. He also laughed at me when I told him, entirely honestly, how much beer I drink each week, and wrote “in moderation” on the form.
But that’s not what I want to talk to you about today. I want to talk to you about the draft. No, excuse me, I’ve got that wrong. I want to talk to you about a set of guidelines for how best to create a urine sample. So, there I am, in the doctor’s office, sitting on the Group W bench, and a nurse comes over from me. She takes a few tubs of blood out of me, then tells me to go into the can and hand over a shot of the ol’ apple juice. Sweet kidney tea. Australian beer (ha!). So I go into the john, and as I’m standing at the sink trying to force my suddenly barren and wind-swept (normally swollen and moist) bladder to produce, I start reading a sign taped to the mirror.
The sign is a set of instructions. A set of detailed instructions. A set of really, really detailed instructions. Step one: retract foreskin. Step two: Rinse the tip of the penis with 2-3 ounces distilled water. Step three: Pat dry with paper towel. Step four: Open specimen jar, being sure not to touch inside of container. And on, and on, and on.
Now, listen. I do a lot of degrading things in my life, every single day. Everyone does. There are so many reasons. I worry about how I dress, and I worry about how neat my beard is, I call the voice on the other end of the microphone in the mouth of the plastic clown ‘sir’, and I stop at red lights at three in the morning when there’s not another car on the road in the entire county, like an idiot. I do all of these things because my society has dictated that my dignity and masculinity aren’t getting top billing on this marquee. And since I can’t do without society, yet, I have to play the game and hope that my ancestors aren’t watching from the next world, stroking their weather-beaten faces with hands covered in plow callouses, wondering why I’m eating my lunch off of the greasy paper wrapper in which it wrapped like a goddamn prisoner.
But I absolutely, categorically, refuse to read a set of instructions telling me how to piss in a jar. I think I managed to figure it out. Three generations ago, my forefathers came to America at half my age, alone, with just a pocket full of old bread and a language that wasn’t English, and now here I am standing in a doctor’s office reading the instructions on how to properly operate my meaty trouser banjo? No. Unacceptable.