Feeling a little cocky 


What song is stuck in your head right now?

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Be honest. You know there's some tune bopping around in there all the time, and it's never your favorite. You may have heard a snatch of that Ford commercial or "Dirty White Boy," and now you're stuck with it. But that's OK. Whatever song it is, it's not a fraction as humiliating as what's simpering through my synapses, which is "The Penis Song" from "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life."

"Isn't it awfully good to have a penis? Isn't it frightfully good to own a dong?"

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Try living with that all day and the fear of absent-mindedly crooning it aloud while you're pumping gas.

Not that I would know what a big, honking thrill it is to look down and have Mr. Clean winking up at me all the time. That's the point. The reason for my mental soundtrack is because I'm reading "Dick for a Day," a 1997 book that asked 54 women writers, "What would you like to do if, by some mysterious means, you had a penis for one day?"

It isn't intended to promote penis envy, says editor Fiona Giles. It's exploration, not thievery, that she was after, to get women to think long and hard about this thing that is at once so close and so alien to them -- not to belittle men, but to imagine life in their underwear.

Under wraps

For me, "Dick" was that gigantic, shiny Christmas present with my name on it. You don't want to rip it open right away. You want to hold it up to your ear and shake it first (the book, not the newfound penis), to hold the anticipation in your hands. In other words, as a woman, it's impossible to even open this book before fantasizing about what you would do with a chance to "hijack maleness," in spirit and form, for 24 hours.

Just to be one of those annoying people who unwraps presents one piece of tape at a time like a strip tease, we'll talk spirit first and save flesh for later. Female is a lush, lavish, velvety way to live. But I think it would be great to be a man. I'd like to walk -- alone -- at night, anywhere, and never be afraid. I'd like to get seriously pissed off and not have anyone whisper "period." I'd like to get out of this Victoria's Secret straightjacket. I think it'd be great to have bigness be a source of swagger. And to have someone look at you with automatic confidence that you can fix the car and everything else in the whole world.

So, now that the wrapper is off, it's time to dive into the actual package, and the first thing is thinking about what kind of package you'd have. Mine would be huge. Absolute Gigantor. Something you could give someone a shiner with. No nonsense about aesthetics or proportion, this is my only shot at the three-legged race, and I want a Foster's oil can. Nonetheless, for the sake of continuity, it would be white.

OK, then, what does anyone do with a new toy? In my scant 24 hours I'd forego food, drink and sleep, and play with it till I was a hair's breath from hospitalization, an exhausted and happy slave of the white whale. Call me Ahab. I might share the wealth, if there was time. It's hard to say. If I kept my own body I'd try to make the cover of "Chicks with Dicks."

Male prerogatives

Some of the women's answers in the book were similar, but some were so thoughtful that my shallow flippancy was embarrassing. Marissa Acocella said she would give a woman as many orgasms as she could to make up for ones she never had. Germaine Greer would donate to a sperm bank. Pat Califa wrote about the poor way society treats men, especially gay ones, right before she ripped into a fantasy about prowling gay-male leather bars. Carol Wolper talked about how she'd watch a woman at lunch eat two bites of lettuce, going away hungry and wired, while Wolper her-/himself, "well-fed and pumped," then would pass some thin compliment to the woman, watching her eyes light up and thinking, "This stuff is so easy it's criminal."

After reading what others had to say I repeated the original make-believe experiment. Whenever a question, funk or dilemma faced me, instead of quietly taking it in, I imagined that I'd face it back, pointing at it with my extroverted ghost totem. This made me giggle in a way that would make the other guys knock the snot out of me. But it made every decision a snap. It turned "What if I'm wrong?" into "Eh, who cares?" This sudden clarity could have been just the result of playing pretend, or it could be the side effect of the sureness I project onto male shoulders. All that matters, though, is the result (isn't that a Machiavellian, male thing to think?), and putting a loud exclamation point where once were whispering parenthesis placed everything in auto-focus.

This probably proves that I'd be exactly the kind of shallow, self-absorbed dork that women always accuse penis-possessors of being. If I had a dick, there's every chance in the world I'd be one. Maybe. Just for a day.


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