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Strove to find a way to punch people in the face by using the Internet.

11/27/2006

DIARY OF INDIGNITIES
Play Ball!
Sometimes people forget that the male crotchal region is the source of all the world’s evil. Not me. You see, I have the misfortune of being born with a male crotchal region permanently attached to the terrain between my waist and knees, and as a result am locked in epic struggle with the various devils, haints and malicious vapors always erupting out of my pants to do battle with the forces of light. It’s a lot of responsibility.

I suspect I’ve even been cursed with an especially uhhh... accursed... crotch. Like, one so thick with bad vibes that it actually attracts unholy forces from other man-crotches, coyly winking or waving at them with a special signal, perhaps. Gathering them close. Sucking in the musky, masculine aura and… Hmm. Then again, maybe not.

There is something special going on in my pants, though. Bad special, not good special. Not like the warden letting dad out of solitary for Christmas special, or the Special Olympics. More like special if the Special Olympics had its own Special Olympics, like a little special something set aside for folks with an extra helping of challenges… Like if they had a Special Special Olympics. You know? And it was in my pants.

Anyway, something ain’t right.

In fact, let’s review: first of all, you got your pubic hair, which is scraggly and bristly and difficult to groom. Ugh, pubic hair, I feel a little queasy just typing that out. Then of course there are the blotchy, wrinkly weiner and balls, which – let’s face it – on their own or as a combo are damply comical, at best.

Around the corner, of course, fudge is made. This takes place in the booty crack, which is less a body part than an abomination defying description in the best Lovecraftian tradition, where to gaze into its unspeakably malevolent eye is to risk turning mad, etc. All this stuff is associated with a dizzyingly unpleasant array of poo, pee, steam, boners, fluids, aromas and – really, you know, if I believed in God I’d spend a fair amount of time praying the shit out of some new design suggestions, should He ever decide to roll out Man Crotch 2.0.

I’ve managed to add quite an impressive menagerie of personal afflictions to the aforementioned baseline groin horrors: psoriasis, fissures, a polyp, an itchy patch that might be psoriasis but I suspect is fungus, a few skin tags, ass blood, a giant wart (you’re going to have to buy the book to read about that one), hemorrhoids, the occasional scar and pretty much everything weird or bad you can have down there, except fucking stalagmites.

I don’t know why I can’t just go to the doctor to get all that stuff taken off, like with a laser or sandblaster or something, just grind it all down and hope it grows back with a better attitude. Or maybe even just go through life with the shiny, smooth and debonair crotch of a Ken doll. No, instead I go to the doctor at least once a year when my crotch decides to manifest its evil in the form of something terrifying and potentially embarrassing and deadly, such as last year’s ass blood, or last month’s suspiciously lumpy right ball.

God, you know, having a lump on one of your balls just sucks, even if you’re not inclined toward moping around and imagining up soul-destroying Costanzas like I am. But at this point I’m kind of a seasoned pro at this kind of thing, so after discovering my ball had gone awry and making an appointment with my doctor I settled in for what I assumed would be a month or two of frustration, crippling depression and stupid jokes. And lo, my expectations went not unmet.

The first step involved having the doctor confirm the presence of the lump. I suspected this might turn out to be a little tricky – the potentially troublesome little globule was nestled in a complicated lattice of tubes and wires located at the top of the ball. But once in the office I rolled my ball on its side, gave it a half twist and pointed out the target, and the doc went right to work.

If I had any shame at all, even a scrap of self-esteem, standing around a cold room while a dude with a mustache contemplates and rubs my naked balls would have been an uncomfortable experience. Thankfully, all my scraps have long been washed away in the mighty river of indignities, so the physical exam, at least, I just took in stride. “Your mustache tickles,” was all I said. “Tee hee.”

After the doctor was done romancin’ me, he sat me down to give me his opinion. I was gratified as well as bummed to hear I wasn’t just making this latest condition up and actually had a discernible lump, because I’m crazy and will totally do that kind of thing. “There’s certainly something there, but due to its location on the testicle and general feel I’m almost sure it’s nothing more than a common cyst or epididymal lesion,” he says.

I relax a bit. Cyst or lesion? Why, around these parts a cyst or lesion of any type is practically cause for celebration.

The doctor continues. “Of course, you really do have to assume it’s cancer until proven otherwise.”

“Oh,” I say.

“But I’m pretty sure it isn’t!” he says. “And if it does turn out to be something other than a cyst, you should know that testicle cancer is very treatable, with generally very good patient outcomes. For example, if you look at Lance Armstrong, he… Well, actually Lance Armstrong might not be the best example, because the cancer had aggressively spread from his testicle throughout his entire body by the time it was caught, and if he wasn’t in such top physical condition he probably would have died.”

“Oh,” I say.

“But you probably don’t have cancer. Maybe. Anyway, I’ll have the nurse come in and schedule an ultrasound procedure, and we’ll get it checked out. In the meantime, you’ll have to leave your pants and underwear with me.”

“OK,” I say. The nurse comes in and tells me she’d send over all my ball info to the lab, and that I should call her if the lab doesn’t contact me within a week. Fair enough, I think. I’ve got enough Costanza juice to keep me occupied that long, especially now that I can actually feel the cancer germs in my ball hopping on their Lance Armstrong bicycles and Tour De Francing their way up into my brain.

Next, I go to pay the receptionist, pointing out I had new insurance. She’s all miserable and snarly.

“You should have told us you were under a different policy before checking out,” she says, taking my card and typing the new information into the computer.

“I did,” I point out. “I told you on the phone when I made the appointment.”

“I don’t even know if we’re in this plan,” she says.

“I checked. You’re listed online and in the print catalog as participating.”

She sighs. “There’s still a procedure we have to follow, Mr. Hughes. We have to verify the policy.”

“If you like, I can wait while you verify the policy, and perhaps amuse myself by touching various doorknobs and items in your office with my cancerous poison ball.”

“That won’t be necessary, Mr. Hughes. Have a nice day.”

I leave and drive back to the office, where unsurprisingly I spend the rest of the workday replacing my normally awesome productivity with doomy ball thoughts: Will my friends start calling me Lefty? Or Cyclops? Should I look into getting my cancery testicle replaced with something, perhaps a Magic 8-Ball I can use to foretell the future? No, maybe a happy red clown nose, something that squeaks when you squeeze it. Children seem comforted by that sort of thing.

Later that week I go out to the bar, to share my misfortune with everyone and bring everybody down. Plus I was already working on some ball-cancer jokes and wanted to test them out.

“That sucks if you have cancer, dude,” says my friend Jamie.

“It might not be cancer, the doc said. I might have… Cerebral ballsy,” I whisper.

“HA HA HA, HEY EVERYBODY! I HAVE CEREBRAL BALLSY! LOOK AT ME!” Jamie screams, totally ganking my joke. Everybody laughs, ha ha, oh that Jamie, what a riot, so much fun. Cerebral ballsy, that guy’s a genius.

Here’s a photo of Jamie dancing on the bar:

Jamie

Quite a comedian, eh? Life of the fucking party, that Jamie, with his dancing and his ballsy. Not a care in the world. Hey! Jamie! Blow me. Get your own ball disease next time, funny man.

The rest of the week passes by without much incident, if only because by this point I’m melancholy to the point of partial paralysis, and can’t really get into much trouble. I’m also masturbating a lot, more even than usual, because who knows? Soon my weiner pipes might be as barren and dry as the shifting sands of the Sahara. Better enjoy them while I can. I still haven’t heard from the lab about my ultrasound by this point, though, so I call and leave a message with the nurse.

A few days, a few more messages, and nothing. No call-back from the nurse, no nothing from the ultrasound lab. Then on Saturday I get a letter from Blue Cross Blue Shield, my insurance provider. It’s just a little something to let me know they’ll be expecting me to pay the full bill for my recent doctor visit, as their records show I don’t currently have coverage. It also says I should call the number listed on the letter if I believe this to be incorrect. Fuck yes, this is incorrect! I whip out my phone and go to call … Hmm, there doesn’t actually seem to be a number anywhere on the letter. Are my eyes playing tricks on me, I wonder? Is the ballsy affecting my reading comprehension?

My ball swells with rage as I pore over the letter for several minutes, turning it over and over and scrutinizing it like it’s a treasure map and I’m Long Ball Silver. Nothing. Determined to get to the bottom of all this, I go online to see if I actually do have insurance. The Internet says I do, so I yank my insurance card out of my wallet and call the customer service line listed on it, planning to give those Blue Cross rapscallions a stern dressing-down. Being Saturday, nobody is there, of course. I leave a properly hostile message, but it’s clear I’m going to have to wait until Monday to sort this out, so I cancel all my fabulous weekend appointments and clear the way for a redoubled effort to pack every second of my life with as much sulking and worry as possible.

Monday I call the doctor first thing. The receptionist plays dumb, which I suspect is easy enough, and puts me through to the nurse. I leave yet another message for the nurse, pleading with her to sort out my insurance and help me get my lab appointment. Nobody returns my call, so the next day I call again. I explain things to the receptionist, how I’m concerned that this insurance screw-up is interfering with my ball lab, and she puts me through to the billing department. Finally, a little progress – the billing lady looks things over and says my insurance was never updated.

“Sure it was,” I say. “I sat there and watched the receptionist type the numbers in. Heck, we had a little chat about it.”

“She must have typed it in and forgot to hit the Enter key,” the billing lady says. “It’s happened before. They’re understaffed.”

Yeah, understaffed. Probably have a few people out of the office, out competing in the Special Special Olympics. The smart ones. I give her the new insurance information, hoping she can figure out the proper sequence of keystrokes necessary to ensure I receive the medical care I need. Meanwhile, I can feel the ballsy continue to spread.

A few hours later the billing lady calls me back. “Mr. Hughes, we’re not able to verify your enrollment in this insurance program,” she says. “Can you give me the number again?”

I give her the number, and make another call to Blue Cross. They assure me I do indeed have insurance, and tell me the whole snafu was caused when the doctor sent in my bill under my old policy number.

“You couldn’t just, like, notice? And switch it to the new one?” I ask.

“It was billed under an inactive number,” she replies.

“I understand. But if I can look online in two seconds and see that I’m covered, and you can just look at your records and tell me I’m covered, why did you send out letters to everyone saying I’m not covered?”

“It was billed under an inactive number.”

“Oh.”

Hearing a beep, I use every iota of willpower I can muster to break away from this fascinating discourse and answer my other line. It’s the billing lady, calling to let me know she verified my enrollment.

“It’s strange. You weren’t in the computer, but they verified you over the phone,” she says.

I am too in the computer, I think. I saw myself.

“Anyway, you’re all set, Mr. Hughes. Now you need to call the nurse back and let her know I’ve verified you. You should also call the receptionist and make sure she has your updated policy number.”

“What? Who, me? Why is that my job? And why would the nurse believe me over you?”

“Mr. Hughes, we work for the same doctor, but we’re not in the same office. I’m two buildings over.”

I’m totally confused by all this, being several hundred buildings over myself, but agree to call the receptionist and nurse, if only because by this point I have a severe limp from my ball going septic and leaking its toxic juice into my leg bone and I just want to wrap this shit up. I leave a couple of messages with the nurse and wait for her to call me back. Two days later, she does.

“I’m going to fax your ball information to the lab tonight, Mr. Hughes,” she says, and gives me the number of the lab. “Call them first thing tomorrow to make your appointment.”

“Me? Call them and make the – why is that my – oh, the hell with it.”

I call the lab the next morning. They’ve never heard of me.

“The nurse said she faxed my info to you last night,” I explain.

“What procedure do you need done?”

“My ball,” I say.

“Hold on just a minute, Mr. Hughes… Let’s see… Oh, here it is,” she says. “You’re all set.” What a relief! Yes, that’s what I’d tell myself, if I was still capable of feeling emotions such as relief. “Mr. Hughes, the next earliest appointment we have is in a week and a half. Hmm I see here that you were scheduled to come in for an ultrasound two weeks ago. We were wondering why you didn’t show up.”

You know, I have a rule not to cuss out receptionists and flunkies and customer service flacks – as frustrating as it can be to deal with these types, it’s not like they have any power or can get anything done. They’re just the first line of defense for a bureaucracy, there to protect the fatcats and real shot-callers with a vast, impenetrable and somewhat doughy wall, something free from sharp edges that people like me will throw ourselves into over and over until we’re tired and compliant and willing to go along with whatever bullshit we get fed. Why waste the energy – that’s my philosophy. If you can’t pole-vault this wall with a lawyer, or maybe a gun, and get to the source, it’s better to keep your blood pressure down and just walk away. This time, though, I pretty much just lost my shit.

“You didn’t call me! You didn’t fucking call me! I have a weird ball I need to get checked out, and you fucking morons just let it slide? How many people have you killed with this shit? Do you have any kind of explanation for me, anything at all?”

“Somebody probably tried and couldn’t get through,” she says. She’s totally unimpressed. I get the feeling she hears rants such as mine a lot. “Do you want me to schedule this next available appointment?”

I sigh. “Yes,” I say. I’m no match for the doughy impenetrable wall. And my ball feels funny. I just want them to microwave it in their ultrasound and tell me if I have ballsy or what so I can get on with my life.

A few days later Dad sends me an e-mail, just to check in and say hi. I explain the situation, and he tells me he’s had a benign something-or-other down there for 20 years. I’m like, “Great. Out of all the things I could’ve inherited – good looks, smarts, some sort of moral center – I get the ball lump. Who put that order in? Hmm, I wonder whose lump is bigger? We should have a race.

I spend the rest of the time before my ultrasound almost catatonic. Dad’s message helps a bit, but the power of the Costanza is irresistible. Things do brighten a day or two before the actual procedure, as philosophy sets in. So what if it is cancer, I think. They’ll just snip that sumbitch out of there, and unless Lance Armstrong has spread all up into my brain I’ll just go on with my life. And I’ll probably be better off – when did those things ever do anything but get me in trouble? It’s not like I even use them for anything… Anything important. I should be happy! Happy to see it go! Good day, to you, cancer ball! Good day, and good riddance! Harumph.

The ultrasound itself was mostly unmarked by incident, except for that whole thing where I was lying on a table in a dark room with my pants down around my ankles as a strange man rubbed a magic wand all over my naked balls to see if any cancer was hiding in them. Depends on how you define incident.

Oh, and my phone rang, down there in my pants pocket. I have Two Live Crew’s “Me So Horny” for my ringtone. Amazingly, the ultrasound tech didn’t think this was funny. But then he didn’t seem to think any of it was funny, not the alarming number of small towels he made me use to arrange, display prop up and cover various portions of my weiner and balls, or the pint of clear ultrasound goo he had to smear all over my crotch to facilitate his various explorations. Me, I thought it was all pretty damn hilarious.

The tech was pretty cool when it was over, though. Even though they’re not really supposed to be diagnosing shit, he really helped put my mind at ease.

“I don’t think you have anything to worry about, dude,” he says.

“So it’s a cyst?”

“I don’t think it’s even that. I think you just a normal anatomical variation you haven’t noticed before. Like one of your tubes is just weird. But I didn’t see anything in your actual testicles.”

Shit, that’s good news, I think. Still, if anything I’m more exhausted than relieved.

A few days later, the nurse calls me up to let me know the radiologist looked at my ball innards and confirmed it. No cancer. I just have a naturally weird ball. Once again I am happy and productive and full of sperms. C’mon over, we’ll take my ball out for a test drive. Life is grand, right?

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