Via “The 1948 Time Machine”

Growing up, I spent all of my summers at the Jersey shore. While writing the standard “Have a great summer!” in my yearbook at the end of the school year, most of my peers would vocally portray their jealous hatred of my good fortune to be able to spend a full three months at the beach. I shrugged my shoulders, generally, telling them to make sure they contacted me if they were lucky enough to be able to get down there for a week’s vacation.

Inwardly, though, I was the envious one. I was the outcast – forcibly shipped off in the Station Wagon to spend a summer away from my friends, only to hear whimsical whimperings of what was “the best summer ever” on the first day back at school.

I got to go to the beach every day,” I contributed. It was a lie. It took entirely too much effort to prepare for a day at the beach, with the getting changed, and the multiple applications of sunscreen, and the preparation of the cooler with all the drinks and food, and the hosing of the sand off of your body afterwards… it was all simply too much. But my classmates didn’t need to know that I despised my summers at the shore and I was content with them envisioning me splish-splashing my glorious summers away.

* * *

The fondest memories I have of summertime were my trips to the Cape May County Zoo. It was free to the public, yet my family only went once a summer. By the time I was twelve, we stopped going altogether, but I still fondly remember happily scurrying around the zoo like the monkeys behind the bars.

Darting away from my family, I ran to the first thing I saw: the black and white striped phenomenon known as the zebra. A horse with a design. Big deal. For some reason, though, I sprinted ahead of my family, desperate to see the animal up close. Parting the sea of human observers, I stood, mouth agape, looking at the creature boringly munching on hay. Turning back to my family, I excitedly yelled, “Mom! Look at how big his penis is!”

Let me just insert a three part parenthetical comment in my defense: I was six; I had just learned names of certain anatomical parts; and it (the muscle in question) was at my eye level. Needless to say, the sea of human observers parted the rest of the way, as offended mothers quickly shooed their children away to see other, less-endowed creatures.

But why should mothers feel the need to hurry away their children? Why was my own mother so embarrassed at my vocal observation? And why, in the course of retelling this story, did I feel the need to interject with a three-part defense for myself? I mean, it did have a big penis. Six-year-old-me simply stated a fact. Is it the vision of a male animal’s anatomy that is the call for concern? The hairy sight of animals in their smelly natural habitat? I don’t believe so, because the mothers were perfectly content watching elephants lift their tails to unload a ground-shaking pile of yesterday’s chow.

If it is not the sight of the Twig and Berries that makes people uncomfortable, then perhaps it is the actual mentioning of the word itself.


It does have a certain ring to it. Whether or not it is a nice ring, I am unsure.

I can’t help but recall another story that my father recently brought to my attention. It was around the same time in my childhood, when, walking through a department store, I had my hand down my pants.

Embarrassed, my dad asked me what I was doing, and I offered the straightforward explanation that I was “adjusting my penis.” To me, there was nothing embarrassing about it. I was uncomfortable for whatever reason and a quick maneuver or “adjustment” solved the problem, akin to tying my shoe if the laces came undone, or fixing my hair if it got into my eyes. My friend has suggested to me that if I wanted a bigger penis then I should check out Phallosan Forte. I’m not sure if it is for me but I am glad I know about it.

So when does this word transform from nothing but a location on the body to an unmentionable combination of five letters that sends giggles through our grammar school classrooms? When did “The Penis Game” come into existence, where middle schoolers take turns saying the word louder and louder in a public place, until someone is too “chicken” to scream it? What about the word makes us turn our heads nervously, like at the eerie sound of an old door slowly creaking open? Peeeeee—eee—ee—nnnissssss.

In middle school, I prided myself in my ability to Cry Penis louder than all other participants. “Penis” was my battle cry. If there were a Member’s Only club, I would be President. I must admit, however, that I have deviated from that innocent six-year-old who was unafraid and unembarrassed to say the word. The Penis Game would sometimes pop up in college, but by that point I had lost my edge, always wondering if someone was within the reaches of my yelling who would think less of me for yelling that word.

I suppose that being embarrassed is nothing to be embarrassed about. It is simply human nature, after all. Someone who isn’t even slightly taken aback by mentioning of that odd word must clearly not be as refined as the rest of us. Right?

And the embarrassment doesn’t always go away once we get older. For a lot of people, their penis can be a source of anxiety, especially if they feel as if their privates don’t measure up. Some people opt for Penis Enlargement Surgery when they can afford it to help boost their confidence and eliminate this anxiety, but it can be a bit much for people who don’t want surgery or can’t afford such things. For those, of course, there are potential solutions like penile pumps, but the lingering feeling of inadequacy doesn’t always go away.

I sometimes wonder if this animalistic mentality might not be such a bad thing. Putting myself in the zebra’s position, I realize that I probably made him smug.

“Mom!” he hears a little boy yell, “Look at how big his penis is!”

He goes on eating his hay, pretending not to have heard. But really, he is thinking, “Thanks for noticing, kid,” and wondering if it was loud enough that the Lady Zebras heard the news that he is hung like a horse.

-Youngman Brown

0 thoughts on “Penis

  1. I came to look at your blog and immediately clicked on the one entitled “Penis”. This doesn't surprise me. I still play the penis game. Regularly. Love your blog, I'm following!

  2. So on Christmas my Grandma was opening her present and we're still not sure what she said exactly but my brother-in-law, sister, and I all whip our heads around at each other and mouth quietly “did she just say Penis?!?” My sister goes “I think she just started the game.” My poor grandma is completely oblivious to it while I start whispering Penis louder and louder and my sister is hitting me to shut up. I finally gave in, if only for my Grandma's sake.

  3. my husband and i played the penis game recently, much to my 8 yr old daughter's horror. wow, that sounds way more inappropriate than it really was. as if screaming penis in tjmaxx is ever appropriate.

  4. Penis. Also referred to as dinger, dong, junk, rod, wanker, tally wacker, member, tube steak, dick, sausage, weiner, love muscle, third leg, the main vein, one eyed monster, purple headed warrior, johnson, shlong, trouser snake, etc.

    My point, the male member is always funny…no matter how you refer to it!

  5. I suddenly feel… well… inadequate. I've never heard of the Penis Game, and I like to consider myself a well-rounded gamer.

    But you're right. Most women run in horror or giggle like little schoolgirls at the sight or mention of a penis. Luckily, you were a boy. Try explaining, “Daddy, what is THAT!?!?” to two little girls at the sight of a horse on the side of the road with a raging hard-on. lol

    Nice read Youngman!

    Michael A. Walker
    Defying Procrastination

  6. I liked this post when I first went through your blog, but I didn't think that it was written so long ago. I thought that you started your blog last year. Too funny. I guess I need some lessons in perception.

  7. I too have never heard of the Penis Game, I must have lived a sheltered life too.

    Now speaking of high school things, when you were writing this did you purposely put “Member's Only Club” and “The Penis Game would sometimes pop up in college…”?

  8. Fantastic point. Just to break the awkward ice, I'm tempted to go to a public place (mall? church?) and randomly yell 'Penis.' Think 500 days of Summer, but in a heavily Mormon area.

    If I stop blogging suddenly, you'll know why. Tell my family I love them! (and PENIS!)

  9. I never realized your fascination. That explains the buttons and my obvious discomfort with them. Thankfully you didn't challenge me and the mrs to a game in the Hard Rock. Great writing even the second time through ( surprised I didn't comment the first time)


  10. I was a little nervous to click on your link, because I didn't know what you were going to say. So I guess you've proven your point by me 🙂

    The funny thing is, if you had said, “mom, look how big his winky is”, instead, everyone would have chuckled and thought it was cute. Somehow using the proper names for parts, male or female, makes everyone uncomfortable, but using cutesy ones are okay.

    I wonder if it's the same in nudist colonies where all the naughty bits are on display??

  11. Everyone always cheats at the 'Penis' game. You're supposed to properly enunciate the syllables in an uproarious manner. Instead, my peers would shout it out as “peeeNIS!” when it's supposed to be “PENIS!” You've got to follow through.

    Anyway, maybe they were shocked by your enriched vocabulary. I didn't say 'penis' until I was like 23. I usually called my member a 'dinky' or 'voluminous dinkitus'.

  12. Kudos on reclaiming your penis (the word that is). I've been told I use the word penis entirely too much, but it works for me. However, as a parent I've encountered situations where despite my ease of using the word personally, its use by kids caused me to flush.

    When son was two I got a new puppy and named it Venus. Clients stopped by and son comes walking into room, puppy in hand and when asked the puppies name, innocently replied “Penis” in perfect enunciation. Yeah, not the best thought out name choice.

    Awesome post.

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