You walk carefully, the tray of five mocktails more precariously balanced than ideal, especially after the duo of decidedly un-mock drinks you and your Better Half have downed in rather quick succession. Your drinks contained equal amounts gin, green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and freshly pressed lime juice, shaken with ice and strained. Very pleasing. Very drinkable also. Rather moreish, to use your Better Half’s turn of phrase, rather moreish indeed.
(The mocktails on the tray of course contain none of the gin, green Chartreuse, or maraschino liqueur, but you’re quietly proud of the verisimilitudinous combinations of pungency, spiciness, and cherry-sour sweetness you’ve achieved without the aforementioned alcoholic liqueurs. Don’t want the girls getting tipsy, even if they are of an age when alcohol could most likely be responsibly introduced, you decide firmly. No, not on your watch, nor the watch of your Better Half; save that sort of shenanigan for one of the shabbier parents, one of the smoking single dads or something, one of those Middle-Australian parents who don’t take all the proper precautions with their teenaged charges, don’t take their custodian roles altogether seriously. No, you are firm about this kind of thing: mocktails until sixteen, that’s the rule.)
The tray is difficult to balance, but you soldier on: no shirker of difficulty you, most definitely not. Five mocktails on thin stems on a gleaming silver tray, and nary a drop is spilt. If there were medals awarded for the responsible and stylish serving of non-alcoholic drinks to giggling gaggles of teenagers, you’re convinced that you’d be first in line. Nary a drop, you note again, proudly.
You pause on this side of Angelica’s stout darkwood door, not to eavesdrop, quite: more to listen without being observed, in a parental capacity. To take decent and proper care of an aforementioned gaggle of teenagers, sometimes one must bend the rules of common etiquette in order to more fully understand the details of the situation at hand, you decide firmly.
There is much giggling going on, of the sort to be expected when five fourteen-to-fifteen-year-olds of the female persuasion are in shared company, safely secured behind a stout and dark-wooded bedroom door, a door which, while not expensive, was definitely more pricey than one’s Better Half had led one to believe, but no matter. One pays for quality.
You are quite literally about to knock upon the door (a complicated but doable maneuver, with the palm of your left hand directly centre beneath the serving tray’s underside – and, true to form, the full sum of the liquid remains contained within the five evenly-spaced vessels upon the topside), when you hear, quite clearly, quite unexpectedly, and quite definitely, from the enclosed space of Angelica’s bedroom, your fifteen-year-old daughter giggling about the small size of your penis.
The exact words she used are lost in a blur of shock and disappointment and gin, but the overall anecdote is as clear as day: back when she was a young child, the two of you shared the occasional bath, and, in her memory of these shared bathing experiences, you had, for want of a better word, a tiny, tiny penis. Tittering. She remembers it clearly, she says. Tittering once more.
The sharing of this gross distortion of the truth results in her peers cackling with mirth, as though the size of a man’s appendage were any laughing matter at the best of times, let alone while said man was in the really quite difficult process of bringing a tray full of drinks from kitchen to bedroom while nary spilling a single drop. And gross distortion of the truth it is, you know in your heart: not that you’ve spent much of your adult life comparing dimensions, to be fair, but you have caught the accidental glimpse of another man’s package at various times (and even, though you are loathe to admit it, once or twice Googled the various averages of length, width and girth as found in different races and age demographics), and, damn it all, you are certain that your own attributes, while not on the rampantly gargantuan end of the bell curve, fall well within the acceptable.
“It was like a cashew, a teensy cashew!” is not a phrase that any man likes to hear, and is not a phrase that you ever thought might be directed in a descriptive sense at your own nether regions, but that particular phrase you can’t help but overhear, nor can you help but overhear the raucous unfeminine laughter that the cruel and blatantly untrue phrase brings forth behind that scandalously over-priced dark-wood door.
Your hands shake with furious horror, and the glasses lose a small amount of their contents onto the gleaming tray. Not a large amount given the severity of the circumstances, you note, but still. Damn it all.
There’s no way any man could enter that room at that moment, you decide. Even the most grandly-bestowed gentleman in the world could hardly enter a room in which he knows a chirruping gaggle of just-pubescent harridans are chuckling crudely (and cruelly) at his God-given organ. Instead, you turn on your shaking ankles and march right back to the kitchen, where your Better Half is busy preparing another cocktail.
“They’re just so moreish,” she says, and stops, looking you up and down. “What happened? The girls didn’t want them? Too much lime?”
You rest the tray on the bench top and breathe deeply. You remove a perfectly-ironed and bleached white kerchief from the pocket of your bone/camel slacks and wipe your forehead. The kerchief smells of fabric softener. You turn to your Better Half.
“Those children,” you begin. You reach for your drink and down it rather too quickly, but forgivably given the state of affairs. “Those girls,” you try again.
“They’re not smoking, are they dear?”
“What? No!” you bellow, then sigh, then wipe your forehead again. “They were talking… they were laughing, you see… Angelica was telling her little friends… about bath time.”
Your Better Half has an uncomprehending look on her aging face. Damned woman, why can’t she read between the lines! Fine cheekbones but no sense of subtlety. She’s going to make you spell it out in all it’s confounding detail, isn’t she.
“Well, of course they can have baths if that’s what they’d like, dear. But the hot water system-”
“Angelica said I have a tiny cock.” Damnation, the curse just bursts out of you like a bullet. You attempt to blunten your harsh language with a softer tone. “I overheard her telling her friends I have a very tiny penis.”
And damn it all, your Better Half doesn’t draw you into a sympathetic embrace, or attempt to soothe your sorrows through kindness, or even silently but ruefully pour you another drink: she laughs.
“I’m sorry, dear,” she says, trying to hide her cruel amusement behind sad eyes and a caring gesture, “that was unexpected. Your… really, what context… are you certain?”
“Yes, dammit! I heard it with my own ears, clear as day. Like a cashew, she said.”
Your Better Half hides her disgusting joviality behind her hand, her petty tittering beneath her. Oh the shame, to be surrounded by the weaker sex, to be so alone in this moment of ridicule, so damned alone at this time of torment.
“Oh dearest,” she says, too late, and through lips that struggle to carry compassion rather than mirth, “you’re really not that small.“
“You think I don’t know that, woman?” you want to shout at her. “A man knows the size of his own endowment! A man knows the hang of his own heft, and I know that, statistically-speaking, my dimensions fall well within the racial average! I’m not an idiot!” you want to scream, red-faced and ruddy. “I was having a bath! Any fool knows that the coolness of the surrounding air relative to the heat of the water causes a certain amount of shrinkage! Any damned fool knows that!” you want to rave, fists waving and jaw jutting pugilistically. You want to huff and puff, you want to roar, perhaps even break some crockery (not the good set – heaven forbid! – no, the ugly set given to you by your Better Half’s Middle-Australian sister with no taste). But instead you say nothing, stare at the kitchen bench in awkward fuming silence. You don’t like raising your voice, and, now that you’ve said it, it seems that your Better Half finds your concerns petty and amusing. You don’t know that you can take more humiliation.
“Well, no point crying over spilt milk, is there dear.“ Your Better Half says, wiping the tray clean of drips, few as they are. “What’s done is done. No point getting all worked up about it-”
“Not for you!” you say, raising your voice. You immediately regret it: your Better Half has had no part to play in this ghastly farce. You breathe again and try to get her to see reason. “It’s all right for you, dear. They’re not in there casting aspersions about your whatsit, are they. It’s me they’re making fun of! A cashew! It’s much larger than a cashew, you know it is. They’re laughing about the most precious portion of a man, his very manhood itself. It’s just so unfair, it really is. I can’t go back in there. A cashew!”
With a look she normally reserves for political issues or besting you at whist, your Better Half picks up the tray and expertly carries it aloft.
“You’re a grown man. I really don’t see what all the fuss is about.”
With that she whisks the rather convincing mocktails away with fluid motions that really do seem to minimise the actual amount of effort and concentration that it takes to carefully balance so many drinks on such a thin and valuable tray. She waltzes briskly from the kitchen as though carrying several stout-bottomed tumblers, rather than five spindly and elegantly-shaped cocktail glasses made of pure crystal dammit. Dammit dammit dammit.
Damn her to heck.
As silence settles into the kitchen around you, you imagine a whole series of cruel and angry epithets to call your Better Half when she returns. Pouring equal measures of gin, green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and freshly pressed lime juice, you imagine cursing her repeatedly with increasingly witty retorts, until you are empty. As you shake the mixture, only partly hearing it sluice and clunk inside the gleaming metal canister, you realise that really, instead of taking your embarrassment and anger out on your Better Half, you should funnel it into something more constructive. Namely, shaming your daughter and her vulgar acne-infested brace-toothed associates. The cheek! The damnable cheek of those pimply harridans, those selfie-worshipping narcissistic unsexed nincompoops: as though they even know how a proudly turgid male organ appears when properly tumescent! How little experience, you think, how little practical knowledge these giggling children have in such matters! What do they know about the male organ’s expected dimensions? They are simply unqualified to judge! How dare they. How dare such ignorant infantile schoolgirls pass judgment upon one’s flaccid member (effected by cold-air shrinkage, no less!), when the real test of a manhood’s mettle is in the swollen glory of arousal – about which they knew nothing! It was like judging a peacock without its tail, or, or, well, some other thing with a central component missing! Why, if these spotty-faced immature waifs ever glimpsed his shuttle in full-flight, they’d think twice about laughing-
“Delivered, without incident.” Your Better Half’s paucity with words is matched by the limited range of emotion displayed by her sullen gaze.
“I’m sorry dear,” you apologise, quickly pouring the cocktails, though with your angry quivering hands, they do come together with far less panache than usual.
“You need to forget all about it,” she says, her sternness melting away at your stammering apology. She touches one hand to the shoulder of your cardigan. “They’ve already moved on, let it go. Put it behind you, that’s the way.”
“You’re right, dear.”
“Forget all about them. They’re just silly school girls.”
“They are, dear.”
“Now,” she says, “let us drink to something. To what shall we toast?”
“Maybe…” you start, then stop. Then start again. “Maybe you could just have a quick word with them.”
The shame, the hurt, the statistical untruth of it all!
“Maybe you could, you know, put in a good word for me. Just pop in, mention offhand something about the perfectly regular dimensions of my, you know. My hardware.” Your Better Half doesn’t say anything. “Just, perhaps, maybe, I don’t know, balance the debate somewhat. Unskew the, you know, data. Add to the discussion.” Still nothing. Just a look. “The, ah. Help right the scales of justice, so to speak.” Is that too much to ask, dammit? Is that really too much to ask?
Your Better Half’s usually quite tolerable face is now a frown-eyed hatchet-featured fishwife’s, a wrinkle-lined axe-head of a thing. Most unflattering.
“Have you finished?”
“Ah. Yes, I believe I have.”
She glares at you. “Are you seriously asking me to waltz into my daughter’s bedroom-”
“You want me to confront my daughter and her friends, and tell them that you, my husband and Angelica’s father, have a perfectly standard-sized penis, thank you very much, have a lovely evening.”
“You want me to announce, to a room full of children – that’s right, children – you want me announce to them, loudly and clearly, that your penis is an average size. Is that what you’re asking me to do?”
“Slightly above average, if you believe the figures-”
“Is that what you’re asking? Am I correct?”
You take a sip of your cocktail. It’s hard to focus on its deliciousness when she’s looking at you like that. And those are top shelf liqueurs, top shelf. What a waste.
“Yes,” you say quietly, “yes please.”
Her glare is cold, so very cold. Colder than the ice slowly thawing in the strainer.
“I think perhaps you ought to retire upstairs for the evening,” the damnable woman says, “I can take care of everything down here. I think maybe the cocktails have gone to your head.”
“I’m fine!” you bellow, then quieten down. “I’m fine. I’m just, I’d just like this to be, ah, laid to rest.”
“I’m not doing it.”
“I’m not doing it,” the damnable woman insists, looking for all the world like a stubborn ruminant.
“Just a quick word.”
“One word, please.”
“Please, just one small tiny little-“
“Damn you!” you explode, like red fireworks. Why won’t she help? Are they all on one team, automatically, just because of whatever damnable biological mishap made them female instead of male? Hateful, spiteful, weak creatures, united against common decency and the Standard of Truth! “I’m not asking you to lie, dear! Just to correct their mistake!”
“If you talk to me like this much longer,” says your Better Half, barely moving her cold thin lips in a treacherous murmur, “you may not be welcome in the bedroom tonight at all.”
Bah! It could all be so simple, but no. No, first scandalous lies about one’s proportions, then complete and utter mutiny from someone who is supposed, according to your solemn vows of betrothal, to stand by you through all binary extremes. No support! No help! What do marriage vows mean, to what do those sacred promises tally, if, when it comes to moments like this, your Better Half chooses to side with injustice over truth? Bah!
“I’m going to smoke a cigarillo in the den,” you mutter angrily, turning on your heel and marching away from your supposed partner.
The den is plushly carpeted, and barely audible smooth jazz skitters along persistently from your towering black German speakers (cost a small fortune, but the quality of sound is highly praised by audiophiles from London to Detroit). Normally, a slender cigarillo and a cocksure smattering of anonymous swing standards does wonders to rouse you from even the most sullen moods, but you can’t seem to let this one go. It’s not just about your personal groinal aspect, no: it’s the lies, the untruths, the spreading of falsehoods. That’s what you can’t abide.
The more you think about it, the more the situation appears to require some sort of reparative action. Despite your Better Half’s insistence that you move past the issue, that you “drop it” in today’s parlance, you still feel that a Great Wrong has been committed. Despite her assurances and protestations and damned advice, despite her suggestions that everything is all right, it feels all wrong. The entire state of affairs is just so unfair, so monstrously unreasonable, that you can barely think straight – that, and the continuing series of neat single-malt whiskies you pour yourself in the den to help ease your mounting fury.
Your member was flaccid! Of course it was flaccid! Is it unreasonable to expect that a man’s member remain flaccid during a bath with his own infant daughter? Of course not! Indeed, had your protuberance been engorged to its fullest during said bath, warning bells would – and indeed, should – ring out! No man of sound principles would be tumescent in such a situation, couldn’t that coven of cackling pock-faced harpies understand that? The fact that your manhood had sat tucked so honourably in repose, so decently atrophied, so sensibly and properly petite – this, this should have been the focus of the discussions! Proof you are a good man! Proof you’re not some deviant! Its smallness – not that it was even all that small, let’s be clear here, it was well within the averages, slightly towards the larger end – its smallness should be recognised as a mark of honour, not seen as some matter for cruel childish amusement! Would they rather you be some swollen predator, some inappropriately-sexed miscreant? Damn them all!
You throw back another Scotch. Damn them all.
Your cigarillo is pleasing, if not entirely to the tongue, at least to the spirit. You are not a bad man. You are not a small man. You are a good man, and a sensibly-sized man. Damn them. You are a man of the correct proportions. And the truth will out.
Another puff on the cigarillo, another shot of the single-malted peat-smoky top shelf Scotch. Pricey, but in this state you are in no mood to care. But still, quite pricey.
The plan is clear: you will massage yourself in the area in question, until you are properly turgid, properly engorged. Then, once your manhood is undeniably within the middle-to-upper side of the statistically-appropriate limits, you will simply deliver the irksome ingrates another tray of mocktails, or some other beverage more suited to the late hour. Perhaps hot chocolate, it doesn’t matter. Perhaps just tea. Anyway, doesn’t matter what the beverage is, damn it all. In the process of delivering the aforementioned drinks – perhaps hot chocolate, perhaps tea, it really doesn’t matter – in the process of delivering these drinks, the dull chattering urchins won’t be able to help but notice your lower portions, stiff with pride beneath your bone/camel slacks, and, as their eyes widen with mixtures of both shock and appreciation (as well as some red-faced flushes of pubescent lust, let’s not quibble), you simply leave the room without a word. Justice, as well as some suitable beverage – perhaps tea, perhaps hot chocolate, nevermind which – will have been served. And no-one needs ever speak of these events again. You will have been restored to your rightful position, and all and sundry shall know your true dimensions. Truth will out! Victorious. And righteous. And all without actually exposing yourself to teenagers.
You drink to that. You, sir, are a genius.
Your cigarillo now resting in the crystal ashtray, one hand reaches at what lies between your legs beneath the bone/camel slacks, and, once it makes purchase on your hidden and sleeping shaft, you begin fondling your manhood beneath the cloth, caressing it into action. Despite the bitterness, despite the humiliation, and despite the copious alcoholic drinks, you sense movement down there, and your breathing quickens. You close your eyes and picture your Better Half when she was a great deal younger, that one night in the hotel room in Luxembourg when she let you erupt while still in her mouth (that one time, that one precious, memorable time, revisited on so many occasions in the theatre of your memories), and you can feel the tightness in your undertrousers growing. You feel harder than ever, to be quite frank. They’re not going to be able to believe their eyes.
A niggling voice creeps into your consciousness, saying:
This is not right.
(Almost immediately, your todger begins to cool in your lap, and you sigh, frowning.)
You clear your throat and adjust your belt. You pour another really quite pricey Scotch.
This is not right. This is not right at all.
It’s too subtle! Blinkered self-obsessed square-eyed ignoramuses like Angelica’s flibbertigibbet school-mates could easily miss even the largest trouser bulge, and the whole thing, the whole damn enterprise, would be rendered pointless. As though flighty witless Twitter-fed youngsters like that would even look up at you as you brought them beverages! As though they’d even look! They were likely to grunt something incomprehensible while locked on their smart-phones, not even a thank you, let alone an acknowledgement of substantial groinal sizability. Or, knowing them, they’d just titter, titter like the sparrow-witted harpies they are, laugh right in your face, with nary a look beneath the belt for what wonders may there lurk! Stupid man! Furthermore, a tray of beverages, whether carrying mocktails, hot chocolate, or tea, it really didn’t matter, a tray of beverages – or snacks, that was always another option, you suppose, not that it matters now – a tray of any sort would likely cast shadow across the very region you’re hoping to highlight! What were you thinking? A tray? Madness! No, this plan is a bad one, no two ways about it. Too subtle, and too obscuritan. You need something more powerful. Something that can not be missed.
“Are you in here?” Your Better Half startles you with her unwanted words, and you jump in your aged leather armchair.
“Yes, yes dear.”
She enters: she’s carrying a small plate of biscuits. But the biscuits are not what fills you with rage, no: it’s her expression. The biscuits look delicious, to be perfectly honest. But that look, that expression on her tired, aging face: it’s a look of pity.
“You’re not still thinking about it are you dear?” she asks, putting the really quite tasty-looking biscuits on the coffee-table next to your extinguished cigarillo and your empty tumbler.
“Leave me alone, woman!” you want to bark, ferocious that she fill your den – your own private space! – with that most inappropriate of emotions, pity! As though you had already lost! As though you had seen humiliation and simply taken it, lying down! Prostrate, helpless, defeated, the hideous girls stomping all over you and your manhood with their expensive heels, laughing, always laughing – well, no! “I think you’ve done quite enough, don’t you?” you want to yell at her, make her quake a little – just a little – at your lion-like rage, your animal prowess, your silver-backed might. But instead, you mutter quietly:
“Sorry, what? Thinking about what, dear?”
She smiles gently. Still that damnable look of pity, like she’s humouring a small child. Damn her straight to heck.
“Come to bed, dear. It’s getting late.”
She’s complicit in all this, refusing to help you in your time of need. She’s One Of Them.
“I’ll come soon, dear,” you say quietly, “I’m just enjoying a little Maynard Ferguson.” The nearest CD cover with the largest writing on the cover says ‘Maynard Ferguson’, and you know your Better Half has even less of an idea who’s currently playing on the 5-CD random shuffle than you do. “I’ll join you later.”
Your Better Half glances at the bottle of really very expensive single-malted peat-smoky Scotch on the coffee-table, damn her eyes, and then back at you. Pity, and concern. Concern! Bah!
“You’re slurring, dear. Please.“
“I’m fine dear. Off you go.”
You wait, closing your eyes and nodding slightly to the beat of the smooth jazz whispering from those towering great audiophile-approved speakers, until she sighs, stands up, and leaves. Immediately you get up and close and bolt the door behind her. You stride back to your throne and collapse into it (slightly more forcefully than you’d hoped, but righteous indignation can make one fragile at the knees).
You pour yourself quite a sloppily large Scotch, and weigh your options.
If you decide to simply “man up” as they say, march right in there and set the girls straight with a clear and descriptive oration about the exact size and shape of your package, both flaccid and erect, and all the good and proper reasons why your member appeared so wanting in the bath so many moons ago, turn to page 18.
If you decide to slip into your daughter’s room once she and her friends are asleep, find her phone, take a picture of your upstanding member with the telephone’s ingenius in-built camera (a “dick pic” is apparently the modern terminology for such an intimate portrait, you’ve heard), and then proceed to send said “dick pic” to her friends, as lasting proof that her description of your organ fell far short of the truth, turn to page 23.
If you decide to change into your snug-fitting bathing suit, engorge yourself, arm yourself with a towel, and confront the roomful of chattering pubescents under the guise of quite innocently asking if any of them would care for a midnight swim, turn to page 25.
If you decide to wait, naked and aroused, in the bathroom (under the pretence of being about to have a shower), lurking with the bathroom door ajar, waiting until one of the giggling young ladies accidentally comes in and spots your resplendent outcropping in its proper state before rushing back to the herd and breathlessly reporting on your correct size and stature, turn to page 31.
If you decide to strip down to nothing, stumble drunkenly into your daughter’s bedroom, swearing and spitting incoherently, and brazenly stand there, angry stamen in full bloom, red-faced and shiny and slick with perspiration and drool, shouting momentarily, arms flailing, reaching, grabbing at limbs, yanking at hair, forcing yourself upon that disrespectul teenaged harem with brutal bright carnivorous vengeance, before you collapse, cross-eyed and brittle, having been struck over the back of the head with one of Angelica’s heavy netball trophies by a quick-witted and instinct-driven young friend of Angelica’s who had already seen too much at the hands of an abusive step-father of her own and was not going to take this kind of shit ever again so God help her, turn to page 37.
If you decide to sit alone and rock back and forth slightly as you cry salty silent ethanol-scented tears of hopelessness and embarrassment and futile worthless despair in a plush-carpeted prison of your own making, turn to page 42.