I once laughed so hard I threw up. It is the God’s honest truth. I was sitting on the balcony of my apartment, which I rented with my good buddy Matt and he told me a story. A story so beautiful and rich and vulgar and awkward that I could do nothing but sit and absorb a moment neither Twain or good ole Earnest himself would be able to pen.
It is the story of a man, a rubber band and the color blue.
Now is the time to put the kids to bed. This is a grown up story but it is true in its entirety. I promise.
This is the text from an original post in the spring of 2005 from my friend Matt, or as he is know on the web, middle-class tool. I copied the text from his blog to here because it’s on his old blogspot account and that site is doing some funky things. I post this in honor of man I never met but who has brought me the greatest moment of laughter in all my life.
I promise, if you’ve ever known an outspoken person of the elderly kind, you will understand this story. So, without further ado, I give you…
Ladies and Gentlemen, MacGuyver (written by Middleclass Tool)
So to break up the Star Wars-related posts (that’s two, count ‘em, two so far), I thought I’d switch gears and go for something a little more personal. I thought I’d tell a family anecdote, something to make for a light-hearted Thursday. In short, I thought I’d make a post about my grandfather’s penis.
Wait. Let me back up a minute.
Tony Bennett tells the story of the first time he ever heard Charlie Parker blow his horn. Parker was an upcoming musician, but hadn’t yet reached the fame he would ultimately achieve, and Bennett hadn’t heard of him yet. If I remember the story correctly, Bennett was sitting on the bandstand while the band was wailing away, when suddenly Parker stepped up for his first solo of the evening. The way Bennett tells it, Bird’s soloing was so incredible, such an assault of notes that he, Bennett, was overcome. So overcome, in fact, that he had to run out to the alley behind the club and throw up.
When I heard him tell that, it struck me that vomit might in fact be the highest compliment one can give — somebody’s so bowled over by something you did that he can’t even hold on to the contents of his stomach. I realized that it would be my Holy Grail, to use my skills to make another guy puke. And a couple of years later, I did just that.
I shared an apartment in Springfield for a couple of years with my good friend and future best man Stuart, whom I mentioned over in the fear of clowns thread. We both smoked at the time (actually, we’re both closing in on our non-smoking anniversaries — please send cash), so one of our favorite pasttimes involved sitting outside on the balcony, drinking beer and smoking and cracking each other up. One summer evening, that’s where we were, when I told the story of my grandfather’s penis and made Stuart vomit.
My paternal grandfather, God bless him, is so very comfortable with his slowly-deteriorating body that he’s not at all afraid to share it with you, warts, polyps and all. No boundaries. It’s not that he’s a dirty old man — okay, he is, but that’s not why. He’s just comfortable in his own skin, and he’s endlessly fascinated by the science of illness and treatment. The human body is a wonder to him, something he can sit and talk about (with special focus on his own ailments, natch) for hours.
And he will spare no details. God Almighty, he will spare no details. Like the time he showed me full-color photos of his colonoscopy while I was eating pizza. Special emphasis on the polyps.
Or there was the Christmas he actually dropped trou in front of my friend Seth and me to show us the catheter and urine bag he’d had to wear for a couple of weeks (which he preceded by asking if we wanted to see “what the best-dressed men are wearing this season”). Seth nearly fell down the stairs and broke his neck at the disturbingly goatlike appearance of a naked octogenarian hooked up to a crazy straw and a Ziploc bag. Thank God for sturdy railings.
He was forced to wear the catheter for a little while because of some blockage in his urinary tract that the doctor had cleared but needed to keep from healing shut. Not a problem in and of itself, but it complicated some other tests that had to be run. Ol’ Jim’s doctors believed he might have prostate cancer, and they needed to run a couple of scans to be sure.
Now, the best way to get a good scan of the prostate is evidently to have the patient come in with a full bladder, as an empty bladder will droop down and obscure it. This, at any rate, is how he explained it to me. But my grandfather had been wearing a urinary tube for a couple of weeks and had only had it out a couple of days. Anyone who’s been forced to wear one will testify that your muscles for controlling urination will atrophy if not allowed to work for long enough, and it takes awhile to build them back up. To put it bluntly, the poor old man damn near had to run to the bathroom the very second he felt the urge to pee.
How to resolve the problem? He needed to have the tests done immediately, but couldn’t have them done without a full bladder. On the other hand, he wouldn’t be able to hold a full bladder for weeks yet. He fretted and worried about it, asked my dad what he thought, but neither of them could come up with a viable solution. Dad was a little worried for him, and I’m sure hated to see his father suffer such indignity, even if it didn’t bother the old man much. Old age is a vicious bitch.
Dad left work that morning to come pick him up at the house and take him to his appointment. Ol’ Jim shuffled out to the car, plopped into the passenger’s seat, and grinned at him.
“You work out the problem?” Dad asked him.
“YUP,” he grinned (he’s nearly deaf, to boot). “I’VE, AH… I GOT A RUBBER BAND ON IT.”
I got a rubber band on it. This, dear readers, is why I adore my family.
Dad waited until he could control his laughter, then drove on to the doctor’s office. He walked my grandfather in and sat with him in the waiting room, just to keep him company while they were waiting for the nurse to come and get him. The two of them each grabbed a nearby section of newspaper and started reading.
“I GUESS YOU KNEW,” my grandfather declared, “I GUESS YOU KNEW THAT MEN CAN HAVE AN ORGASM WITHOUT EJACULATING.”
Heads turned to look, poked out of doorways. Birds fell out of trees. Traffic outside the hospital stopped. A coyote howled in the distance. A shot rang out. A baby started to cry. Somehow the microphones from Lou Gehrig’s farewell speech had been standing in front of them the whole time. My father sunk down behind his newspaper and waited for the nurse to come.
Stuart (and, I hope, you) had by now been laughing to beat the band since “I got a rubber band on it.” The beer had probably made it funnier, but I like to think my impressions were a contributing factor. At any rate, he thought the story was done. Not so.
Dad went back to work during the actual testing, and my grandfather called him to come pick him up when he was done.
“Well,” Dad said, “how’d everything go?”
“EVERYTHING WENT ALL RIGHT, I GUESS.”
“Did you get any news?”
“NO, IT’LL TAKE A LITTLE WHILE FOR THE RESULTS.”
“…Did, ah…did the rubber band work?”
“YEP! TURNED IT BLUE!”
At which point my father pulled over. At which point Stuart hoarked foamy Budweiser onto our downstairs neighbor’s patio. At which point I will now bow out and wish you all a good day.