By Brad Willis © 2010
I was nearly out of gas and still 45 minutes from the deposit point. I looked at the bag in the passenger seat and wondered if I should put it somewhere less conspicuous. I imagined a tanned South Carolina trooper peering in the window and asking, “What’s in the bag, son?”
It was white plastic with the words “Bi-Lo” stamped in red on the outside and its contents were more valuable than anything inside my car. Time was an issue, but there was no way I’d get there on the last few vapors of unleaded in the tank. I pulled over at the Chevron and filled the tank.
While the gas pumped in, I looked around the interior of my car. It was littered with an empty potato chip bag, three empty diet soda cans, and the detritus of a man who usually rolls alone. I remembered the advice of drug buddies past: “Cops are more likely to search a messy car.”
Be a man, I told myself. Just drive. Don’t be stupid.
I got on the interstate and watched my speedometer closely. I breezed by overturned red car and a collection of emergency workers, then a city cop harassing a Hispanic guy, then a DOT cop running with his lights flashing. I exhaled.
I had to be there by 4:00pm or what was in the bag would be worthless. I thought about it and almost pulled the passenger side seatbelt across my cargo. One quick stop—or heaven forbid, a wreck—and there was the potential for a lot of questions I didn’t want to answer.
While I was considering the implications of a crash and the mess it would cause, I pulled off on the wrong exit and got stuck in a traffic jam. My chest tightened and my fists gripped the steering wheel. Even Ira Glass’ voice on the radio couldn’t calm me down.
This is what it’s like to drive with a plastic cup of your own semen in the passenger seat.
* * *
The discomfort that goes along with having a vasectomy doesn’t end after the operation. There’s the soreness afterward, the awkward memory of the lady who looks like Joan Cusack rubbing antiseptic on your penis, and the scent-memory of cauterized vas deferens drifting up in the smoke from your scrotum.
Then, there’s the humiliating task of ejaculating into a specimen jar. Unless you have some pretty refined fetishes, there is nothing sexy about a plastic cup, and in the end, it feels more like a medical procedure than such a practice really should. The self-critical stare hopelessly into the cup and ask themselves, “Is that too much? God, what if it’s not enough?”
All of this ran through my head as I extricated myself from the traffic jam and got back on the highway to the office. One in the lobby, I clutched my specimen in my hand. A pretty blonde woman with a little girl stood beside me. They cooed at each other, and I was sure they knew I was holding. The elevator dinged and donged, but didn’t arrive before a pregnant nurse sidled up beside me.
She knew. I knew she knew. It was like that scene in “Reservoir Dogs” with the doper walking into a bathroom full of narcs. I nodded at the nurse and clutched the bag even tighter.
I couldn’t. She knew.
The lab was on the fifth floor. I wore my sunglasses all the way up and walked directly to the lab desk. A pretty girl stood at the counter.
“I need to drop off a specimen,” I said, my voice betraying the confidence I tried to put on my face. This was almost an intimate moment. The rules of the game require the specimen be dropped off two hours from the…point of production. That means, unlike anybody else I would meet on this day, this girl knew exactly what I’d been doing an hour or so before. It was almost like she was imagining it while she looked across the desk.
“Do you have your chart?” she asked.
I’d forgotten the rules. I was supposed to stop at the front desk and pick up my chart before going to the lab. I tried to play it off.
“You’re telling me you just don’t let random guys drop random stuff off with you?”
“No,” she said, clipping the “o” like she was French, and raising her eyebrow in a way that I was sure said, “You sure you did everything else correctly?”
I walked to the front desk and put bag on the counter. I was more brazen now. I took off my sunglasses and asked for my chart.
“Please take a seat and I’ll bring it to you in a moment,” the brunette behind the desk said as she stole a glance at the Bi-Lo bag.
I sat in the waiting room with my bag. A redneck sat across from me talking about the dangers and immorality of underground parking garages. “They shu’n’t even have’em,” he said. “I mean, they got cameras…”
“All the cameras is gonna see,” said a fat lady beside me, “is some guy slitting my throat and stealing my pocketbook.”
All the while, my semen sat beside me.
It had been six months since the doctor had cut open a part of me I never expected to be cut open, cut in two pieces of my body I’d hoped never would be cut, and then seared those pieces with the medical equivalent of a soldering iron. If I hadn’t been on a pretty high dose of tranquilizers at the time, I probably never would’ve been able to speak of it again. When I left, I was told I should have no unprotected sex until I had a zero sperm count. Hence, the benefits of having a vasectomy had eluded me for half a year afterward. It was as if I’d had myself mutilated just for kicks.
The lady at the desk called my name and handed me my chart. I walked back to the lab where I put the chart and the bag on the counter. It occurred to me that there may no more personal item you can give to a woman. Your grandmother’s engagement ring? That came from your grandmother. A jar of semen? That comes from you, brother.
“When should I call back?” I asked.
The lab tech took my bag like I’d delivered her groceries and smiled. “Some time after 4:00,” she said, and then quickly disappeared into the lab. She popped her head back out.
“Would you like to take another cup with you?” she asked.
Another cup. This one I’d just handed over had been sitting in my bathroom drawer for six months. It had smeared toothpaste on the side and the label was wrinkled from some spilled water. I’d looked at it every day when I’d brushed my teeth and thought, “Someday, I’m going to ejaculate into this cup and give it to a woman who doesn’t know my name.”
I looked at the woman in the eye and said, “Yeah. Give me another one. Just in case.”
Brad Willis is a writer from Greenville, SC.