Phallic Parsnip

I realize I will probably lose all my male followers after they read this post.

DISCLAIMER ALERT FOR MEN: Reading this post may cause feelings of rage, sorrow, and desire for revenge against the writer. Please do not act on any of them.

I’m usually extremely in tune with the penis. We go waaaay back, you see, from the time I was 8, maybe 9, and me and the boy upstairs took nudie pictures of our privates with my Kodak Instamatic camera. The photos were developed, but there was a note attached to the envelope alerting my mother to “inappropriate content.”

Fast forward 35 years and to more penises than I care to recall. I understand that we women need to treat a penis gently. To listen to men describe their pride and joy though, you’d think one needed to treat it like a premature incubated chick, with a temperature-controlled climate and white kid gloves.

I know it hurts when men get hit there. I’ve seen them doubled over in pain. Girls are usually schooled in the art of handling the package, often from a man himself, and it’s a wonder we’re not frightened to go near it. Such importance, power, and domineering characteristics—we react to it like we do to celebrity lifestyles: we ooh and aah over them, but in reality, we have no concept of what it’s like to have one.

My 10 year old son adores his penis, although he doesn’t worship it yet, if you know what I mean. I try not to make his love of nudity a huge issue because I don’t want to give him a complex, but I will tell him to put the little General away when I’m in his room, hanging out. It’s enough that my son’s friends are always hanging out, I don’t need to see his dangling participle hanging, too.

He told me the other day, “My penis hurts.” The first thing that came to mind was to ask him whether it burned when he peed, except he’s too young for gonorrhea. My words in Prissy’s voice (Scarlett O’Hara’s maid), kept ringing in my ears: “I don’t know nuthin’ ‘bout little boys’ penises.” I cursed my son’s father for not being around to discuss these boy things.

I asked my son if it hurt on the inside or the outside.

“All over,” he said.

“Okay, well…uh, have you been, er, maybe, aah, um, touching it too much?”


“Did you bang it on something?”


“Get hit with a ball?”


“No one else has been touching it, have they?” I said, starting to panic. He looked at me like I had just asked him if he wanted a side of broccoli with his birthday cake.


I had nothing else. “I’m sure it’ll be fine,” I told him.

Because of my thinking of his penis always in the third person, coupled with his constant waving it around like the American flag, I forget how fragile the wee little thing is. A few weeks later, when my son lost at a card game we were playing, he attacked me and all I saw was his crotch heading for my face. I should mention he wasn’t wearing any pants at the time. Or underwear. (Before anyone decides we must live in a freaky clothing-optional home, please know his entire lower half was covered by a blanket the whole time we were playing cards.)

So my son’s crotch was heading toward my face and I did something I have never done to any man or boy. I flicked it. Yes, I flicked his junk. His tenders. His privates. Flick. I immediately realized what I had done, and we both froze and stared at each other for a moment, eyes wide in horror. Then my son’s lip started to quiver, the tears came, and I felt like the worst mommy on the planet.

How could I have done that? The worst possible thing to do to a male and I had done it to my son. I had caused my son pain and he was crying. I felt worse than pond scum. I hugged him, rocked him, begged his forgiveness. I made sure I stressed how wrong I was to have done that, I had violated the unspoken rule between men and women, and I would never, ever do it again. Pinky swear.

I think I need to lay down some rules in my home. My son needs to have his goods covered at all times. I don’t want to see them, and I sure as hell don’t want them coming anywhere near my face. I don’t think that’s too unreasonable, do you?