Monday, May 13, 2013

The Gift of the Peni

In case you haven't yet heard me not-so-casually bring up the whole "Yeah, I was totally on the cover of the Nightly News webpage," here's a screenshot for good measure:

I so know best.  CLICK HERE for video segment.

I was going for a certain Mad Men meets Leave it to Beaver look.  I thought it would be a nice juxtaposition against my somewhat risque piece, entitled The Gift of the Peni (a spin on The Gift of the Maji).

Because the videos will not be available until this Summer, I've decided to post the text of my reading below.  Outside of my years in insurance, it is the first thing I've written that was intended to be read solely aloud, so I'm hoping it works as a written essay as well.

I also wrote it at like 3 o'clock in the morning and the under the influence of Rum Chata because I was secretly trying to sabotage myself.  What kind of producers would actually select an essay about penises?

Melisa Wells and Tracey Becker apparently share my love for the irreverent.

So without further ado, here is:

The Gift of the Peni

The penis.
Penis penis.

(whispered) Penis.

I do have a point here.
Once upon a time, before I had kids, I went to a psychic.  She was one of those coffee grind gypsies who could look into your cup and predict all of life’s great accomplishments and failings.  I watched as the other women finished their readings and walked out.  They talked about prophecies involving career, love, travel. Me?

I got penises.
Madame Musaude  was very careful with my cup and stared into it for a good long time.  She tipped and turned it.  Rattled and tapped it.  My prophecy was unshakable. 

Finally, after what felt like hours, she offered one, solitary forecast:   

(with accent, think Count Chocula):   You are going to be su-RRROUNDED by many, many penises.
At the time, I thought she was calling me a floozy. 

But now?

Penises are my life.

With three little boys who can’t hit the broadside of a barn, let alone the inside of a toilet, I know penises.  I know how to tuck them facing down while installing a fresh diaper.  I can treat a newly circumcised one better than any doctor or rabbi out there.

I am practically a penis whisperer.

Not that I’m complaining, mind you.  I was somewhat relieved with the birth of each son.  I was that rare 6 foot tall girl who was always directed to the back of the crowd for every class picture and grammar school performance. 

I knew my heart would break watching a daughter of mine get ushered behind the smaller kids, the cuter kids, the preferred kids.  I worried that I would not know how to instill confidence in a girl as I continued to struggle with confidence myself. 

So God, the universe, and my husband saw to it that Team Y Chromosome  won every foot race imaginable.
I welcomed each son with enthusiasm.  I had the clothes.  I had the toys.  I had this.

And then,  something changed.
I knew after our last son was born that I should not pursue more children.   My uterus was paper thin.  It was scarred and stretched.  Another pregnancy would undoubtedly just free up my husband to pursue that trophy wife.   

Still. I couldn’t help but think about a daughter.

Who would take care of me when I got old?  Who would watch Lifetime movies with me or help dye my grey hair?  I started lobbying for an infant girl from China immediately. 
After all, she’d never be 6 feet tall.  Or tossed to the back row.  Or get asked to carry the heavy box for her 3rd grade teacher.

My husband’s response?

 “No.  We’re good.”

Joe is a man of few words.   I tried desperately to decipher what “we’re good” meant.  Should we simply be happy with the three healthy sons we had?  Was it greedy to want a little girl?  Would we be defying our very destiny by seeking out more children than already allotted to us? 
I tossed and turned for weeks trying to make sense out of my husband’s nebulous decree on the matter. 

Finally, Joe picked up on my angst. 
“Oh Lord.  What now. What  What. What.”

I responded.

“What did you mean when you said ‘we’re good’?  Are you truly happy with three?   You came from a family of seven.  SEVEN. I thought you told me back when we were dating that you wanted at least one of each?”
Joe replied:

“Oh cripes, Marianne.  I also told you that I loved the theatre back then.  I was full of crap.  Never believe anything a guy tells you when you’re dating.”
“So when you said ‘we were good’?” I questioned one more time for assurance.

“I meant we’re old.  We’re done.  I want to retire before I’m 80.”
For someone like me who has problems with self-image, my husband helped provide an interesting take on our happy house of many penises:

“You need to see the positive in this, Marianne,” he counseled.
“What’s that?”

“Have you even looked at the boys’ growth charts from the pediatrician?  You’re gonna be like the shortest person in our family.” 
Whatwasthat?  Did Joe just call me ‘dainty?’ I was going to be dainty? Dainty dainty me?

“Hey, you guys know Marianne?  Yeah, she’s totally dainty.” 
I let the implications wash over me like a warm ocean tide.

The front row could finally be mine, but now? 
I didn’t really want it.

I wanted to be in the back.  With my boys.  With the kids with the big brown eyes, endless freckles and humongous feet. 
Motherhood had somehow tilted my world on its axis.

For this time out, the cool kids, the preferred kids, were all standing in the back row.

And they were saving a spot for me.


  1. I loved it then. I love it again (now). BTW - I am the father of three sons - all of whom are taller than I. Which means I get to stand in front.

    1. I think you'd be in the front row no matter what, Lou!! And thank you for the kind words! xoxo Mar

      P.S. If you want to drop any tips for surviving 3 sons, I'd be much obliged.

  2. I LOVE this piece. Personally, I had to get over being surrounded by vulvas and the fact that I was never going to get that cute little freckle faced boy I always wanted.

    BTW: I totally did a happy dance when I saw you on the NBC page!! Way to be beautiful and hilarious!!

    1. Ah...but you will have your girls FOREVER! A true gift! My boys will drop me like a hot potato the second they marry girls named Mimi or Candy.

      But thank you for the nice words! xoxo Mar

  3. I think your spot will be secure, as long as you encourage the boys to marry short. So glad to see your superstardom has not kept you from posting here for the little people! Congrats again!

    1. I will never leave you, Andrea. Unless of course the law intervenes...

      Thank you!!

  4. I can hear the laughter in the spots of this post where you read it...LIVE.
    In LIGHTS.
    And I roared in laughter yet again.
    You have a way with words, my friend.
    And with penises too.

    1. You do go on.

      Don't stop.

      (: Thank you, my cute little blond friend who I secretly want to wake up and be ala "Freaky Friday" one day.

  5. You are such a good writer, and you never fail to make me smile. And kudos to you, my dear, for being able to read this out loud. I would have never made it. I might have even blushed a bit reading it! ;)

    1. Holy crap, trying to get a drink before going on was like living in Chicago during prohibition. I had to say "penis" like a thousand times for chrissakes! Get me a whiskey shooter!

      Glad you liked it, Jennifer - I'll be looking for your audition write-up next year!

  6. I bow down, once again, to the genius that is Marianne. Excellent post! But then you can't do wrong in my eyes. :)

    1. I need to get to the UK this year and take you out for a drink, Lily! I do everything wrong in everybody's eyes most of the time. And I totally need a British BFF.

      Thank you!

  7. Love the essay, Mar!
    I too live in a penis house... even the dog is a boy
    And they are always naked, letting it (them) flop around.

    Wish I could have been there in person :)

    1. We are living the exact same life except I was smart enough to opt out of adding a 4-legged male to the mix! Crazy.

      I was a little scared to push coming with friends because I was convinced I was going to tank, but holy cow! It was so much fun and it all started in your home state! If you're up for it, I'm dying to go again next year as an audience member - I'll save you a seat!

  8. LOL!!! This is an absolutely delightful "piece" about a "dainty" subject as only Marianne could write.

    Hey, Marianne, good news. Before you go to a shrink about being six feet tall, or any other of your imagined insecurities (I see only pluses for you) you WILL shrink. At 68 I was 1/2 shorter when I went to the doctor recently. Enjoy the back row before the sons tower over you.

    Who is surprised to be 5'8" now

    1. Oh sweet Jesus, let it be true. And make me 5'7" before I die!

      Thanks for the vote of confidence and happy news! Here's hoping!!

  9. Fantabulous!! I can't wait to see it. That was so well written and I'm sure well spoken :) Here's to penises!

    1. Yes! To penises!!

      Just forgive my phlegmy voice. I blame allergies.

      Thank you! xoxo Mar

  10. That was breathtaking! I have a similar gift/curse only it involves be surrounded by feces.
    LOVED IT!!

    1. Oh that stinks! heh heh. Feces, you know...

      Sometimes I just shouldn't type.

      But THANK YOU for the kind words!!

      xoxo Mar

  11. hysterical....

  12. You penis whisper you. My husband is swimming in the deep end of the estrogen pool with his floaties. on.

    1. Get that man a beer! Well done, Mrs. Tuna.

  13. As the mother of 3 boys myself, I feel that this is really the story of my life. And you know what else is crazy? My husband is also from a family of 7. Six boys and one I didn't really get my hopes up about having a girl myself. Great post! :)

    1. Wait - Joe comes from a family of six boys and one girl! ARE WE RELATED???

      And thank you!

  14. Soul Sisters, we are. My LTYM piece also included a reference to boy's parts (tho' I wasn't brave enough to actually say penis). I love, love, love this and can't wait to watch it.

    1. I've got to work on corrupting you. And I am giddy to see yours as well! Thanks, Julie!

  15. Great essay! Perfect.

    Wish I had been there to cheer from the front row.


  16. So fun! I had two boys, so I get it. Funny, but endearing too. I'm tall myself and HATED it. My grown boys have surpassed me now and I LOVE LOVE it! So...just wait. You'll have daughter-in-laws too, so you'll gain the estrogen to balance out all the peni. :-)

    1. Daughter-in-laws??? But I'm not even mentally ready for middle school! holy moly