It’s wrong. Plain wrong and dumb. Ain’t no hygiene involved. Ain’t no
reason to cut out the most exciting part of a boy’s life like that. America got it all mixed
up with their clean cut ideas. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with a foreskin. Didn’t God himself
invent it? I told Larry and he just laughed at me. “Aw Jim. Don’t let preacher hear you
talkin’ about this again.”
“Well why not? He done heard me on it before. I think it’s right time we
tell the folks in this town that they’re doin’ a disservice to the Lord. A disservice to their
“They don’t want to hear about no dicks and foreskins, Jim. They’ll laugh
at you as soon as you open your fool mouth. And preacher has plenty to worry about already
with these elections comin’.”
“No other country on God’s Earth do this to their own, Larry. Anyway, I bet
you’d take yours back if you could git it,” I said, kicking dirt. Larry told me once that after
Betty had the twins, he done never touched her again. Said he couldn’t feel a thing. Course,
we make blame on the women and their stretched insides, but it ain’t all them, is it?
Sure, you go ahead and tell ‘em about those poor girls in Africa. Oh that’ll
rile ‘em up, make ‘em go door to door and collect everythin’ they can get their hands on.
They might even make a picket sign or two, or start a letter writin’ campaign. But they
don’t see the wrong thing they’re doing here to their own ‘cause some big britches doctor
tells ‘em that it’s a mandatory medical procedure. Like God let every boy be born un-
How are these small-minded hicks supposed to know any better than what
their doctors tell ‘em? I never knew nothin’ till I went and saw the world.
When our little Jimmy was born, me and Georgia had a giant row over this
idea I got. Course, she won. She looked at his little penis like it was a dead fish – like it was
road-kill or pig’s balls or somethin’. The woman made a face like she’d just ate limes. She
said, “Jim, I don’t care what you say, it just ain’t right.” Now, tell me. How come us
Americans got it mixed up in our heads like this? Thinkin’ what a thing looks like is most
“Anyway, Jim, what’s he gonna think when he looks at yours? Ain’t he gonna
wonder why his is different?”
“Hell no, Georgie,” I said. “When he gets old enough, I’ll tell him he got the
better part of the bargain.” She shook her head like I was talkin’ about the sex alone. Like
I was some fiend. Well let her think it. She asks me questions all the time.
Why do men think so backward?
Why they drive so fast?
Why they beat their wives and children?
Why they touch young ones? Why they rape? Why they kill?
And I’ll tell you again. You know what my answer is.
You can’t sell every damn thing in the world with sex, and then cut off the
best part of a man who can’t afford to buy nothin’.
I was fixin’ to go and see our Jimmy at the County when preacher called to
the house. He looked humble and sad about somethin’ so I sat back and sighed. What more
bad news could the man bring us in a year?
“Georgia,” he nodded. “Jim.”
“I got news ‘bout Jimmy you ain’t gonna like.”
“He ain’t comin’ home, is he?”
Preacher shook his head. “He’s with the Lord now.”
Jimmy started by robbing the local gas station when he was sixteen. He got
twenty-seven dollars and three packs of cigarettes. We was poor. He wanted things. He
wanted everythin’. I tried to teach him ‘bout the world, you know, and how there was more
to it than the commercials on the television, and do you know what he said? He said,
“Pop, you don’t know shit.” So I gave him a hidin’ and sent him on to preacher. Course,
he never made it to the parsonage because he saw the O’Keefe girl walkin’, and when
she wouldn’t go with him, he hit her and, well, you know the story from there. Poor Mother
O’Keefe still in black, mourning nine months on.
Georgia hasn’t touched me since, sayin’ how a boy is a reflection of his
father. She know I ain’t like that. She know I’m a God-fearin’, God-lovin’ man. She married
me in 1970, fresh from two years in Asia, a good son and a good soldier. She know I ain’t
nothin’ like Jimmy.
Once, after they sent him off to prison she asked, “Jim? You think Jimmy
did that ‘cause of somethin’ we did?”
I couldn’t tell her what I really thought. I said no.
“Then why, Jim? I thought I raised him to be a good boy.”
“You did, Georgie. We both did the best we could. Can’t blame it on nothin’.
Just the way things go sometime.”
Some folks will blame it on the television or violent movies. Some say Jimmy’s
generation is morally long-gone because of them ol’ video games. But why would my boy
kill? Takes a deep thing to kill. I know. I done it myself. Ain’t no one thing can make you do
it. Ain’t no one thing made him do it neither.
Problem is, the world moves too fast. Ain’t nobody gonna listen to my
A.S. King has recently returned from Ireland, where she spent twelve years dividing her
complaint without addin’ one or two of their own. And before you know it, there’s a mile of
bitchin’, and mine don’t have any authority. They treat me like I’m a stupid man. Even
Georgia, my own wife. They done changed the way they raise girls, but never changed
the way they raise boys. And they sell everything with sex. And they cut off the best part
of a boy before he even cry the first time. Then they ask all their questions without
thinkin’, when the answers is starin’ them right in the face.
time between self-sufficiency, teaching literacy to adults, and writing. Her work has
appeared in Washington Square, Amarillo Bay, The Huffington Post, Natural Bridge,
Melange, and other cool places. She now lives in Berks County, Pennsylvania.