Imagine: uno. A human testicle, which, if you’ve never seen one, looks like a ball of Silly String if the string could carry the elements of human life in its coils. An organic factory, producing the seeds of Generation Z.
A few years ago, I dated a man with one testicle. He had testicular cancer in his early twenties, and his parents paid a Yale graduate to pluck the right walnut out of his body on an early afternoon in May. The graduate put it on ice. It was irradiated with ultraviolet light in late June. Its ashes are in a landfill now. A seagull ate one of them yesterday.
We dated for a year. Met each other in softly lit corners of lower Manhattan. Took cabs. Bit our lower lips. Wore belts. Played with our belts. Bumped our belts together. His parents lived in Boerum Hill. They had a brownstone—or if it wasn’t brown, it was burgundy. They were away one weekend, so we kissed in the kitchen, next to a lazy Susan and a few glass pears. Went up to his bedroom, which was painted blue and held a pile of stuffed animals in the corner.
He was blond, and green-eyed. We’d met in college, and found each other in New York, at the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue where we both waited to get our phones fixed. I was sitting on the stone bench at the bottom of the glass staircase, and he sat next to me. Water damage, for both of us. I ran into him as I was walking home from the gym a week later. Texting ensued.
Testicular cancer affects seven to eight thousand American men per year. The cells that divide to form sperm cells keep dividing, and they don’t stop. The survival rate is 99%. The easiest way to survive is to barter with your balls. You give one up for a life of making love in brownstones next to hand blown glass fruit.
If you ask for it, your surgeon will give you a lima-bean-shaped counterweight. Costs $3,000. The counterweight is sewn into your scrotum. The first testicular prostheses were made of metal. In the 1950s, they were glass spheres. Today, they are made of silicone. A silicone shell filled with salt water.
If there’s a watershed moment in my sexual history, it’s the moment when, in a Boerum Hill brownstone, I wrapped my lips around a cold polymer imitation testicle wrapped in a real man’s skin. A water balloon. A skin-covered water balloon.
Sucking on a $3,000 water balloon.
And this is love, I assume. You kiss the thing that was once a cancer factory, and, I guess, that’s very profound.
I remember thinking, “this is what happens to dogs,” and then, “this could happen to me.” And then reaching between my legs every six hours for the rest of my life.
See, your testicles are your soul. The only parts of you that are immortal. They know. That the rest of you will be nothing but stray carbon one day, food for seagulls in Pennsauken or wherever, but a twitch of life in your testes will still be alive, in some form or another, breathing and hugging and kissing and getting its phone fixed at the Apple Store on a Tuesday.
I know I’m fetishizing this guy’s disease. I know. I don’t know if he’ll read this, or if it matters. All I can say is: If I ever purchase a silicone sack filled with water, I want someone to kiss it. Though I may not be able to feel it, I still want them to. To suck the bulb of all the possible futures of all the possible beings and destinies that might have existed but don’t, though other things exist in their place.
We haven’t seen each other in two years. He lives in Los Angeles now. Better for his green eyes and blond hair. There are swimming pools. I’m sure he’s having a great time.
Check out Harris Sockel’s Thought Catalog book here.
This post originally appeared at Human Parts on Medium.
featured image – peddhapati