The Penisless Female, And Other Phenomena

Written by Jonathan Ames on . Posted in Breaking News, Posts.

How dare
my mother tell Mrs. Ells this kind of private information. Mrs. Ells was this
big sweet old woman whose house I’d be dropped off at. And I liked going
to her house. Her son was grown up but she had saved all his ancient G.I. Joes.
There was one who wore an old-fashioned deep-sea diving costume. I still remember
his gold helmet with the little glass plate in front. I wanted to steal him,
but didn’t. I knew even then the difference between right and wrong, though
I was made to feel, incorrectly, that holding on to my penis was wrong.

Well, maybe
it was wrong. It’s certainly not pleasant to see men grabbing their penises
on the subway or to see ballplayers adjusting themselves on tv. So at least
I do it here where no one can see me. But it would be nice to have one witness–that
G.I. Joe. I’d like to have him here with me right now. I still sort of
long for him. I’d prop him up on my desk and just stare at him and admire
his outfit.

what do women grab when they’re nervous and sitting at their desks? Do
they slip their hands inside their panties? What a distracting thought. Just
the word panty is distracting. I love that word; it implies so much.
I love how women look in panties, how they’re flat in the front. I’m
35, but sometimes it’s still this beautiful amazing shock to me that women
don’t have penises. They just have this lovely little mound of hair and
then this tucked-away glorious hole. Hole. Wait. Hole sounds vulgar. Is passageway
better? Pretty envelope? Georgia O’Keeffe flower? Pussy? Pussy is good.
I like the word pussy. Tucked-away beautiful pussy. I wish I could put my face
in one right now and sing out, "I love you!"

once told me–I think it was a counselor I was seeing–that Freud said
that little boys think girls have penises until they find out they don’t.
Something like that. And when you find this out this somehow alienates you from
your mother or from women or causes fear of castration or maybe makes you think
that women are other, or less than, because they’re missing something.
But it’s all muddled in my mind now. I do remember sitting on the steps
of the chapel of my university with a friend, and it was spring and all the
beautiful girls were out walking around, and I was falling in love with every
other young lass with an ass, and I said to my friend, with great sincerity,
"Can you believe all these girls have vaginas?"

spreading rumors," he said.

So I’m
still amazed by the phenomenon of the penisless female; thus, I must still be,
in many ways, a little boy. That’s why in the past, on occasions of psychic-emotional
disturbance, like during my entire late 20s, I occasionally spent time in bars
frequented by comely transsexuals. I obviously found it reassuring, in some
Freudian sense, to be with girls who have penises. But I’ve covered this
already. There’s a chapter in my most recent novel, available in paperback
by the way, that attempts to explain this important psychosexual issue; the
chapter is called: "A Girl As I Must Have First Imagined Girls."

Well, I
just refilled the coffee cup to restore the tissues, and I’m feeling slightly
tremulous and vaguely nauseous (already had three cups at breakfast, so now
I’m on my fifth), and I’ve just done a word count, 773 words, not
including this last sentence, so I’ve gotten my way through more than a
quarter of this final, swan-song column.

(I wonder
if any interestingly deranged person will count all the words above to see if
this is true; though if I revise, some words might be cut or added; but then
I’ll adjust the number for those of you who might want to see if my word
count is accurate, not that anybody will do this, but I guess I feel like flattering
myself to think that somebody might.)

So what
else can I tell you? I was watching the Super Bowl yesterday (this sounds like
the kind of segue a stand-up comedian would make, do forgive me) and I thought
it was quite macabre that there was a commercial with a computer-generated vision
of Christopher Reeve walking. His face looked beatifically tormented and bizarre,
and it was like that original Star Trek episode where that pre-Kirk Captain
is freed–mentally and emotionally, though not physically–from his
strange computer wheelchair and gets to go into this dream world of forever
youth and sex with this gorgeous woman in a cave. Like all human beings–or
people who ever watched Star Trek–I loved that episode. It spoke
to all our depths, that somehow we could be freed from the dream of our disintegrating
lives and placed in another dreamlife where we never disintegrate; though I
guess that pre-Kirk Captain will eventually die in his wheelchair and so his
dream of being young and beautiful will just be shut off; and that’s what
happens to us when we die: we’re just shut off.

Oh, no,
I’m onto death. I can’t stand it. I can’t stand death. The other
day I was looking at a picture of a relative I love–and I won’t say
which relative, because I don’t want to create some kind of terrible jinx,
anger the gods–and I started thinking how I might look at this picture
when the person was dead, if I should outlive them, of which there is a good
chance, and how I would long for them, miss them, how I’d feel I hadn’t
loved them enough while they were alive, and how my heart would tear apart.
In fact, it tore apart just looking at the picture the other day and the person,
thank God, is still alive.

Okay, enough
of that. If I keep writing in this emotional vein, Oprah might take notice of
me, which brings to mind an interesting hoax. What if one of my book jackets
was put on a decent, sensitive, humane novel where people don’t think girls
have penises, and Oprah got hold of this book and read and loved it, but because
of the book jacket thought I wrote it? Then she’d have me on the show and
I’d become a bestseller, get out of debt and everybody would think that
Oprah had put her stamp of approval on a dipso-sex-maniac. The ripple effect
of such a thing could be enormous.

This brings
me to the next topic, which has just sprouted in the gray matter encased in
the skull at the top of my neck: I’m quitting the column because I can’t
stand writing about myself anymore. Twenty-eight months I’ve been doing
this, and I’m sure a normal person would have grown tired of such a task
long ago, but that’s because a normal person doesn’t have a narcissistic
disorder the way I do. But perhaps I’m no longer narcissistic. I feel that
for long enough I’ve bared my soul and dropped my pants in this biweekly
space. I want to go back to baring my soul and dropping my pants in fiction;
I want to go back to writing about myself in the guise of a character with a
made-up name. Well, so much for my temporary respite from the lash of narcissism.

of narcissism, I was very glad the other day when I was at the World Wrestling
Federation’s "Royal Rumble" at Madison Square Garden that this
humongous fellow known as Paul "The Big Show" Wight referred to another
wrestler–the bestselling author The Rock–as narcissistic. I had taken
my son to this event and I was secretly wishing he had some other passion besides
wrestling, but I was buoyed by the fact that some of the wrestlers’ scripted
dialogue is sprinkled with good vocabulary, like the word narcissistic, and
that my son was getting some positive things, some enriching exposure, out of
his love for this strange, theatrical "sport."

We came
to be in Madison Square Garden because I had noticed an ad for the "Royal
Rumble" back in early December and said to my son I would try to get us
tickets. This was lunacy on my part. Why get the kid’s hopes up when I’m
thoroughly incompetent when it comes to doing something like buying tickets?
So for several weeks, true to idiotic form, I pondered how I might go about
finding the phone number for Madison Square Garden. Of course, I didn’t
call information or seek out a phone book. I was worried that once I did get
a number, I would get some kind of phone tape and have to press several buttons,
which I would find taxing and enervating, so I kept procrastinating. Meanwhile,
my son had actually believed that I might pull the thing off. He loves professional
wrestling more than anything else. He watches it three times a week, reads magazines
about it and his wardrobe of t-shirts is mostly of wrestling figures. Then I
read somewhere that the "Royal Rumble" had sold out. I felt ashamed
I hadn’t even made a manly effort. I was going to have to disappoint my
son yet again.

Then I remembered
that I’m sort of a journalist–perhaps, I could get press passes. Not
knowing how to do this, I procrastinated some more, and then struck upon a brilliant
idea: ask someone for help. I turned to my brilliant, competent editor at New
Press. He then enlisted someone else at the Press. The
appropriate fax was then sent off to the WWF and nothing happened. I waited
a week for some kind of response either by fax or phone call or psychic communique–but
nothing. I then willed myself to make a follow-up phone call–you have to
understand that basic life tasks are exceedingly difficult for me; for example
I’ve been living in this apartment for five months and all my books are
still on the floor because I don’t know where to buy bookshelves or how
to build them–and so I left a message at the WWF. No one called me back.

I had to
report to my son that things were looking very bleak. He was understanding,
but melancholic. Then late on the afternoon of Friday the 21st, there was a
phone call: two free press tickets would be waiting for me at MSG on the 23rd,
the day of the "Royal Rumble." I went into action. I called Continental,
for some reason I’m good at calling Continental, probably because I have
their number on a sticker in my wallet, and I secured a ticket for my son first
thing Saturday morning. I then called him up down in Florida.

are you doing this weekend?" I said. At this point, it was a foregone conclusion
in his mind that I had failed to make his dream come true, and you see his dream
for some time now has been to go to a live WWF event.

he said.

don’t have any plans?"


your psyllium?" This is the fiber supplement I have him on, because the
poor kid has inherited his father’s digestion.


you’re just taking psyllium this weekend. You’re not going to the
movies or anything?"


how about coming up here tomorrow and going to the Royal Rumble on Sunday!"

my God, are you joking?"

completely serious."

my God! I can’t believe it!"

And so it
went. The dialogue was straight out of the old Andy Griffith Show, but
sometimes life is actually sentimental and corny. And my son, who tends to mask
his emotions like his paterfamiliass or whatever the Latin curse word
for me is, was utterly delighted and effusive.

He arrived
Saturday morning in Newark, not having slept a wink Friday night because he
was too excited. We stayed out in New Jersey at my parents’ and went sleigh-riding
and rented movies. It was a good day. At one point, when I was alone in the
kitchen with my mother, she said, "You know your son loves you. This morning
I started doing a wash and he asked me if it was a cold wash. I said it was.
And he said that’s good because you were taking a shower and he wanted
you to have hot water. There are adults that aren’t thoughtful like that.
He loves you."

I have to
admit, it made me feel good to have my mom tell me this.

Later that
day, I dragged out photo albums of all the years of my son’s visits and
we looked at them together. It was wonderful and nostalgic. He’s a great
big hulk of a kid, the largest in his class, but he’s a sweet hulk and
it was hard to believe that the little boy in the pictures is now already nearly
a man. He’s almost 14 but could pass for 18.

So we went
to the Garden that Sunday night and the place was packed with 20,000 people.
The WWF was very kind and gave us excellent seats and my son was in heaven.
And they put on quite a show these wrestlers, quite a spectacle. For three hours,
we watched great enormous men–some of them quite appealingly freakish and
comic–throw each other about and holler at one another for all the world
to hear. It was like a gladiatorial circus, and I didn’t fully get its
appeal, though I certainly wasn’t bored. And most important, my son loved
it and I was glad to make him so happy, and, too, he seems to have the right
attitude toward the whole thing. "It’s a cross between a sitcom and
a sport," he explained to me.

So the next
day, he flew back home quite contented, but also anxious to regale his friends
at school. I returned to Brooklyn and a friend of mine lent me an essay about
wrestling by the brilliant French philosopher Roland Barthes. Barthes loved
wrestling and saw it as a theater of excess, a great cathartic spectacle about
"Suffering, Defeat, and Justice." This further reassured me: my son
has the same taste as a French genius. I knew the kid was bright, but I didn’t
know he was that bright. I’m kvelling (that’s Yiddish for prideful
feelings toward one’s child) just thinking about it.

Well, I
must start bringing this to a close. What I’ve done here in the Press
the last few years is like what Barthes says about wrestling: it’s been
a spectacle of excess, of my suffering and humiliation and some of my triumphs–the
justice part. I’ve happily played the clown, because I am a clown. But
it’s time to withdraw.

So I thank
New York Press for giving me a voice in the city, and I thank you kind
and generous readers for sticking with me over the course of more than 50 columns.
I hope you have found it entertaining, amusing and distracting, and should you
ever see me in the street do say hello and if you want you can let me know that
you liked or loved the column, and you can use as many praiseworthy adjectives
as come to mind. And if you’re a woman and want to hold me to your chest
and let me whimper for a few seconds and maybe let me grab your sweet rear end,
I won’t protest. And if you’re a man and you have an extra 10 or 20
bucks you feel like slipping me, I won’t say no. Well, I guess that’s
about all. So as they say in France (it makes for an elegant ending): Merci
and Au Revoir.