I don’t know what it’s like for you, but every time I prepare to see a new doctor for a physical exam, I wonder how they’re going to react when I drop my pants.
Will there be a moment of awkward silence? Will they suddenly cease their chatty façade or professional jargon, and adopt a poker face to conceal their pity or envy, disgust or desire?
After all, this is the most intimate possible one-way-street we experience on a standard basis: strangers witnessing all we have to offer, getting as up-close-and-personal as it’s possible to get without revealing anything of themselves in return. There’s never any compare or contrast. There’s never any tit for tat. I will never see my doctor naked. I will never know my doctor’s sexuality. I can never guess what my doctor thinks or how they feel when they see how I’m hung.
Of course it doesn’t matter. They literally don’t care, and neither should I. They see thousands of naked bodies, all of the available options, and always only in a clinical sense. There’s nothing titillating, and certainly nothing remotely erotic, in getting or giving a hernia check or testicular exam. If the risk of cancer and a latex glove aren’t mood-killers, well then, nothing is.
I mean, be honest. You’ve had the fantasy, right? The sexy doctor fantasy? The erotic exam? The one where you have to change doctors for whatever reason, and you have no idea what to expect from the new physician: personality, professionalism… pheromones… but whatever they’re bringing, it’s coming in heavy and hot?
I’d like to blame this impulsive cliché on being brainwashed by too many cheesy plotlines from porn, but I was definitely imagining inappropriate scenarios prior to physicals in my early teens, years before I encountered adult entertainment, and at least a decade before my doctor wasn’t someone old enough and unappealing enough to be my grandfather.
After all (my mind argued), what if he was gone that day? What if the hot young nurse practitioner was forced to examine me instead? What if they had to call in the equally hot young front-desk clerk to lend a hand? What if, against all odds, they’d never seen someone with genitals as perfect as mine before? What if they were conducting a national virility survey? What if they needed to test the firmness of my erection? What if they needed a semen sample? What if they both wanted to help?
Juvenile, of course. Guaranteed never to happen, of course.
But so is my other fantasy. The non-erotic one.
In this scenario, the context is the same: I’ve moved to a new town, started a new job, received new health insurance. Found a new doctor. Again, I don’t know what to expect. Again, I wonder what they’ll think and how they’ll react when I bare my wares.
Again, I spend an extra five minutes in the shower that morning, trimming my pubic hair and shaving my balls so nothing interferes with the tactile exam. Again, I massage in just a hint of cocoa-butter oil to ward off any offensive musk. Again, I select my nicest pair of boxer-briefs to unveil as proof of the care with which I keep my body.
Sure, it sounds like I’m prepping for a date, but it’s just professional courtesy, I assure you.
In this fantasy, like the others, I arrive at the office, go through the drudgery of waiting in line, filling out forms, having my driver’s license and insurance card scanned, coughing up my copay, silencing my phone.
In this fantasy, like the others, I am eventually escorted back behind the main door, where my height and weight and blood pressure are checked by someone anonymous who I won’t see again.
In this fantasy, like the others, I am finally deposited alone in an examining room that is the generic model for every other examining room across the country: paper-draped table, informative posters, carefully labeled cabinets and cartons and jars. Bright lights. Venetian blinds. Sterile air. The command to strip and change into the disposal paper gown. The promise that “the doctor will be with you soon.”
In this fantasy, like the others, I take off my clothes. In this fantasy, like the others, I wish it was warmer: I’m a grower, not a shower, average-sized, sure, but every inch helps as a confidence boost. In this fantasy, like the others, none of the rest of my body matters: I am nothing but a penis and a pair of balls contracting in nervous anticipation on an examining table. Waiting for the inevitable.
Minutes go by. Hours. Days.
In this fantasy, like the others, the door finally opens, and the doctor breathlessly whisks into the room. They’re my age. Attractive. Friendly, funny, disarmingly charming. We chat about TV shows. We gossip about politics. We agree on almost everything, it seems. They make me laugh. They make me relax.
They check my eyes, ears, nose, and throat. They check my glands, lungs, heart. They palpitate my abdomen. They ask me to stand up and lift aside the paper gown.
They see me for the first time.
And in this fantasy, it doesn’t matter how I’m hung. In this fantasy, it doesn’t matter if we’re sexually compatible.
In this fantasy, the first words out of their mouth are “I’m so sorry.”
Because, in this fantasy, being circumcised from birth is a tragedy. In this fantasy, every conscientious medical professional shares my feelings of trauma and loss. In this fantasy, the sight of a partial penis — scarred, withered, bare-faced, numb — is an outrage, a remnant of a less ethical, less protective, less caring generation.
In this fantasy, my doctor doesn’t want to fuck me.
In this fantasy, my doctor simply wants to heal me: to replace my foreskin, erase my scar, though of course they can’t.
Still, at least in my imagination, they care, and that’s enough.
It’s certainly more than I’ll ever get in real life.