I used to live at 2814 W. Cassia Street in Boise. You’re free to Google-map it right now. Mom & Dad moved out in the early 2000s but the house looks much the same as it did during the 25 years I called it home. Polk’s City Directory for Boise, 1955 to 1960 editions, lists Donald W. Lynch of the U.S. Forest Service and family living at 2868 Parke Circle Drive. In the David Lynch autobiography film The Art Life David describes how he was playing outside his Parke Circle home one evening when a naked woman appeared out of the night from the intersection of Shoshone and Parke Circle, and the fact that the inciting incident that turned a young Boy Scout into the future director of Blue Velvet happened not 100 yards from the house in which I grew up suggests there’s a subterranean deposit of weirdness particles that helped make he and I into the men we are today.
In August 1983 a windstorm came through Boise and knocked down three trees in our front yard. Boise’s a city of trees, and we had well over a dozen, including seven locusts lining the street. One big one toppled over in the storm and dominoed the other two. There’s a picture of me standing in the hole where it ripped up the driveway with its elevated roots. I’m wearing a yellow T-shirt and short blue shorts, legs together, hands together. Annoyed and scared, like a similar picture from that era where I’m posing with my local YMCA basketball team. Definitely a gay pose, but back then I had no idea. That day I’d been at Grandma’s when the storm blew through, and I was in her study with the loom where she made so many awesome textiles when I looked out the window and saw trees in the neighbor’s yard split and fall in the hundred-mile-an-hour winds.
Apart from the tendency to wig out whenever the winds picked up, the immediate side effects this storm had on me were mostly in the category of household chores. We had, in short, firewood. Lots of firewood. There are Polaroids of the family cutting wood, Dad wielding a chainsaw, me leaning on the log pivot and raising timber in the air. There’s also a color slide of neighborhood friends helping chop up the wood. Helping is one way of putting it. Fucking around is more succinct. They came over with little axes, mounted the toppled trees and hacked away. This was fun. In one slide you can see Luke.
Luke was missing one forearm. He lived a couple of blocks away and he was in my class at Monroe Elementary School. The one time I went over to Luke’s house was with some mutual friends, probably Craig (he lived on Shoshone) and Jason (he lived on Grover). We were all there in Luke’s bedroom with Luke’s older brother, and Luke’s brother was playing with a pellet gun. It was the usual hijinks with deadly weapons, pointing it at people’s faces and saying bright, logical things like “It couldn’t be loaded” and “Point it at my ass.” Luke took the gun and pointed it at my crotch. We were sixth-graders. Christ we were stupid.
After he pulled the trigger and I discerned that the gun had in fact been loaded, I had a choice. I could do nothing, or I could writhe in pain. Not being of the age when a shot to the balls would cause horrible death agony, I decided to feign mild discomfort. Laughter abounded and we all went home.
A year or so later during a routine physical a doctor reached for my testicles to do an inventory count. He counted only one. The other was eventually found recessed in, I think, the Inguinal Canal, where it had retreated following its terrible gun-induced shock. So I had an issue. I needed to get that gonad down. Several techniques presented themselves.
Already a fan of self-abuse, I was pleased to hear that one possible way of bringing the testicle back into the testicular sac was to massage the area in question. Days I massaged, and nights I dreamed of public masturbation, sitting on a bench with a hand in my pocket, protesting obnoxious innocence to passersby. “Hey—I have to do this!”
But mainly, on doctor’s advice, I waited. “You’ll go to camp this summer,” he’d said. “Ah yes, camp, physical activity, running around and so forth. Just you run around a lot and come back in a year and we’ll see if it comes down by itself.” I went to camp. I ran around. I built little rafts with candles and Episcopal prayers of goodwill written on them that floated across the lake and disappeared. The testicle did not come down.
In 1986 I took a day off from eighth grade and had outpatient surgery—an orchidopexy. The doctor was the father of a guy in my class at school. His son and I had gone to the same elementary school and at one time he had stolen my bike, a red thing with a banana seat, and brought it back later when he got bored. I went in for the surgery and counted backwards from 10, as they always ask you to do. Can’t remember how far I got before I went under. But I remember coming back to consciousness; I was shivering. So much nervous energy. Mom was holding my hand. They took me home. My crotch ached like hell.
That’s it, really. It hurt for a while, I got over it, and the runaway testicle is there right now, in the right half of my testicular sac. It’s a little smaller than its twin, so when one considers My Balls they aren’t exactly symmetrical. I’ve always been obsessed with sex—convinced that it’s everyone’s ultimate goal, that the more you have the happier you’ll be, that your sex frequency is a yardstick that measures how alive you really are. So the fact that I know so many people on Twitter who bust a nut twice a day while in my horniest weeks I only need to rub one out every two days at the most makes me think—if it had been in the right place all this time, would I be the sex machine I was meant to be, instead of the strictly average sperm donor I became? How alive am I, exactly? And am I still as sexually mature as that 14-year-old, who didn’t know any gay men, and wouldn’t know what to do if he met them? You can’t wish for more and better sex for a 14-year-old boy in America. But I wish that guy had found somebody sooner than he did. Someone he could get naked with and say “Look at my scar.” And laugh.