The theme of the February show is PENIS (ALL CAPS).
I have been dreading this show for months.
I haven’t encountered or interacted with a penis in a really really really really really really long time.
I kind of remember what they look like, how they feel. Pressed up against my back on the subway during rush hour on the way to middle school, while I try to squirm away from its owner, usually a gross dude hiding behind a copy of The New York Daily News shoved up in his face.
Or something to be careful of while fumbling around on a extra long twin bed in a pitch black dorm room, clumsily trying to make sure I don’t hurt myself or the penis’s owner or the penis itself with a sudden jerk of my elbow.
I know it must sound like I am afraid of dick but I’m pretty sure that’s not true. There are scarier things in the world. But I was once taken aback by a street dude flashing his penis at me while he urinated in a glass bus shelter near work. I remember grimacing and rolling my eyes while the man laughed and danced, sort of like a naughty marionette.
I think what I need are positive experiences with penises that are more recent. Have penises changed much since the last time I encountered one? Is there something like the Meetup web site only instead of arranging group outings around a common interest like craft beer or the New York Giants you whip out your junk for admiration followed by a Q&A? And not so illicit as casual encounters arranged through Craigslist, if only because I don’t think I care to spend that much time scrolling through blurry, poorly lit of penises that appear downright mangy.
What I envision is something not unlike the Stingray Touch encounter at the Shedd. The Stingray Touch is a shallow pool just outside the aquarium itself, where you lower a hand into the cool water and let the stingrays swim near. There are attendants that I think of as lifeguards (they even sit in lifeguard chairs!) that warn people not to agitate the water so they don’t work up the stingrays. The rays may brush against your hand. They may try to hump their way up your arm, like they did to me last summer when I visited the aquarium with my brother Patrick. It’s safe, it’s pretty clean, and afterwards you can buy yourself kettle corn. That’s what I want.
The Shedd’s web site asks “How do you think a stingray feels? Soft, like a pillow? Squishy, like a marshmallow? How about scratchy, like sandpaper?” Having felt up and been felt up by several stingrays, I can tell you with absolute certainty that I don’t remember what they felt like. Slimy, maybe. Or more slick? Nothing scratched, nothing hurt, and everything was lovely underneath the waves.