This is not funny
Well, it's been almost a month since my last column, and I was all set to write something light-hearted and happy. Lord knows we all need it. So what better way to pitch into a campus-wide catharsis than to once again bleat about my abysmal social life? Or perhaps discuss campus events — boy, that Bill Kirk is a riot, ain't he? Just saying Bob Davie's name alone is good for a chuckle.
Like I said, I was all set to write one of those columns. Then something in my testicles changed all that.
Yes, I said my testicles.
This is not funny.
A little more than four weeks ago, I discovered a lump in my left testicle. For a second, I didn't really think anything of it, just that it was kind of an odd thing. "Hey, there's a lump in my testicle. Huh. That's weird." Then it hit me, "There's a lump in my testicle ... oh, God."
It's not funny.
Everyone knows that a man's ... uh, family jewels are both literally and figuratively the essence of his masculinity. The best way to get a guy to stand up to his manhood (or to do something incredibly dumb, reckless or illegal) is to challenge his balls.
But at the same time, men pay very little attention to them. Sure, we're accused of thinking with or being led by our genitalia, but really, so long as everything works when we need them to, men are pretty much happy. So nothing paralyzes a man with fear more than to learn that something may be wrong with Big Rick and the Twins, Sancho and Pancho.
That was my reaction.
It wasn't funny.
To be honest, the thought of what the lump could be hadn't really entered my mind at that point; just the fact that there was one was enough. But then the c-word popped into my head. That opened the panic floodgates.
I wasn't scared I was going to die of cancer, even though I've lost both my maternal grandparents to that accursed affliction. Even if the lump was some malignancy, I figure I'd caught it pretty early. I don't constantly manipulate my gonads, but I knew that that lump wasn't there a month before.
But what if it was cancerous? Would I lose Lefty? Would I have to check Righty once a week to make sure he wasn't stricken, too? How would my life change? Could I still have children? Would I get a prosthetic testicle? Do they even make prosthetic testicles? Could I still be able to have sex? Could I even get a woman to have sex with me even if I lost a ball ... er, had a testicle removed? (Okay, that last one was a little shallow but I did honestly think that. Like I said, tell a guy something's wrong with Mr. Happy and he'll be scared stiff ... er, crapless.)
After a couple hours of such panicking, I realized that just because there's a lump doesn't mean it's cancer. Like most men, I honestly have no idea how my own reproductive system works. I know all the "outside parts" (i.e. the "big three"), and I'd like to think I know how to use them really well, but the rest of it is a mystery to me. Epididymis? Vas deferens? Sound like Roman poets.
So, for all I knew, the lump could have come from a time when I was kicked in the junk when I was 9-years old. And even though testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men ages 15-35, I figured the odds that something else was the problem were pretty good. That realization finally brought me back from the brink of going nuts ... er, insane.
Of course, not everyone I told realized this as quickly as I did. For a while, it was a little uncomfortable having so many people being preoccupied with what was going on in my scrotum. In fact, I almost didn't write this because I don't want you, the entire Notre Dame community, to have that same worry for me. In a world of terrorism and anthrax, the slight possibility of me having testicular cancer is nothing to get upset about. I didn't want phone calls, e-mails or conversations asking about my testicle. And I certainly didn't want prayers to be offered at the Grotto on behalf of Lefty, either. I'm sure God has more important things He has to deal with, too.
So, I got it checked out. Yes, I had my testes tested. And after a battery of exams that were somewhat uncomfortable to endure, we're pretty sure it's not cancer. So, there's a happy ending and none of you have anything to worry about.
Okay, I lied. It is kind of funny, but only because it turned out not to be serious. And I have to laugh about it. I got spooked a little, but hopefully I'll be stronger for it.
And so will Rick, Sancho and Pancho.
Mike Marchand, class of 2001, will soon begin writing for RealClearPolitics and The Politix Group. Unfortunately, he's not getting paid for either. But maybe if he's asked, he can be persuaded to tell the longer version of this story as part of a comedy routine. Interested offers can be sent by e-mail to Marchand.firstname.lastname@example.org. "Undistinguished Alumnus" appears every other Monday.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Viewpoint Stories for Monday, November 5, 2001