By Mickey Dubrow
My brother-in-law is a big sports fan. Me, not so much. Recently, he asked me, “In baseball, do you know what they call one ball, two strikes? A Mickey Dubrow.” He laughed and then apologized. There was no need. It was a good joke. I had had testicular cancer and one of my testicles had been removed. I was lucky. I had a type of cancer that is highly curable, and once the tumor was taken out, I was cancer free.
I was also lucky to have a damn good doctor. I remember the first time she checked my testicles for lumps. As she pulled on her rubber gloves and sat on the stool in front of my naked lower half, she said, “This is the part we both hate.” In my head—let me repeat that—in my head, I replied, “I don’t know, I kind of like it.” But out loud, I said nothing because she was my doctor and you don’t say stupid shit like that to your doctor.
During a yearly physical, my damn good doctor noticed that one of my testicles was larger than the other. You’d think that would be something I would notice, but it went right by me. She arranged for me to see a urologist. The urologist ordered a scan that showed that the inflation was caused by a tumor. The only way to find out if the tumor was cancerous was to remove it. I asked if there was any other way to find out, because what if they took it out and it was just fine? I didn’t want to lose a ball for nothing. The urologist assured me that there was no other way.
I worried that the surgery would damage my sex drive. I knew that I only needed one testicle to continue having a normal sex life, but sexual desire is as much mental as physical. I was afraid that I would convince myself that the surgery had destroyed my sex life.
My sex life is completely vanilla, but I’m one of those guys who thinks about sex a lot. Like all the damn time. I read stories with lots of sex in them. I write really good sex scenes. One of my life goals as a young man was to be a good lover. Let other men climb mountains. Pleasing my sex partners was my Mount Everest.
Men are supposed to have sex on the brain all the time, except when they’re thinking about sports. Since I’m not into sports, I have extra time to think about sex. I’m not quite Portnoy and I have no complaints, but my sex drive is part of who I am.
How sex obsessed am I? Just about every woman I look at, I imagine what she looks like naked. I don’t include underage girls and the very elderly, but every other female is fair game. In fact, if you’re a woman reading this essay, I’m imagining what you look like naked reading this essay.
I’ve never been ashamed or embarrassed by my obsession with sex. I have never understood the argument that sex was only for procreation. Animals have sex for procreation only. Humans have sex for all kinds of reasons: recreation, expression, stress reduction, revenge, etc. Having sex for fun is what elevates humans from mere animals.
The cancer surgery went well. Afterwards, the urologist met with my wife and me. He told us that the tumor was malignant, but Stage 1A which meant that once the tumor was removed so was the cancer. It was an odd moment, to find out in the same sentence that I had cancer and that I no longer had cancer.
My wife and I waited until I had healed from the surgery before we attempted having sex. We moved slowly. She did most of the work, handling me gently, and with loving kindness. As I approached orgasm, fear gripped me. What if something went wrong? There was nothing to substantiate my fear, but fear is often irrational. The orgasm did happen and I felt tremendous relief. The last time I felt this emotional during sex was the first time I had slept with my wife. I knew that something more than sex had taken place.
Most days I forget that I only have one testicle. I’m not sure why anyone would dwell on it, even someone as sex obsessed as myself. You work with the tools you have.
Before the surgery, I thought of myself as invincible when it came to my health. Even though I was in my mid-fifties, I believed that my body would always bounce back from any disease and from the abuse I’d put my body through with too many drugs, too much alcohol, and generally not taking care of myself.
The surgery didn’t destroy my sex life, but I was convinced that I came out of it with two strikes against me. The first strike was the realization that my body was no longer invincible. The second strike was the realization that my body was aging. As I get older, my body won’t be able to ward off disease as easily and eventually age may dampen my sexual desire. This all sounds terribly depressing, but I’m not worried. In baseball, a batter with one ball and two strikes still has a chance to score.
MICKEY DUBROW has been an award winning television promotions writer/producer for major cable networks for over twenty years. His essays have appeared in Creative Loafing, The Atlanta Jewish Times, Prime Number Magazine, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Under the pen name, Allan Kemp, he is the author of the Black Phoenix urban fantasy series.