Yours, four-year-old brother of my five-year-old friend, was the first one I ever saw, that summer afternoon when you dropped your shorts to take a leak on a bush in our backyard. Your penis dangled limply, almost absurdly in its shriveled laxity, and seemed to me no more noteworthy than my own peeing-mechanism, only somewhat more pronounced.
You, stepfather, revealed yours to me without ever knowing it. One Sunday morning while I was eating my cereal in the kitchen you emerged from the bedroom you shared with my mom to fetch the newspaper from the doorstep of our apartment. Did you have to do that entirely naked? I did not need to see you that way, my newest dad, did not need to be stuck at the age of eight with the image of that penis, so much longer than my best friend’s little brother’s, wider, thicker, and half-erect; a grown-up penis for a grown-up man.
Your penis, my high school sweetheart, was the first I ever touched, ever held, ever took into my mouth and body. It was yours that I squeezed too hard or not hard enough, yours that I learned to protect and be protected from, yours that was not only a penis but part of a package which conformed so neatly to the cupping of my hand. Your body was still growing then, and your penis was, too: the sweetly modest member of the boy I had loved transformed into the stern soldier of the man I didn’t.
Yours, my cocky, confident friend with benefits, was oversized overall, but I didn’t know that then; I knew only that I never seemed to have enough room to contain it all. Yours was the one I measured, so I might in future have a basis for comparison, and I think I embarrassed you with my giggles and my ruler. I wondered afterwards if you ever knew how you stacked up against other men, and if you did, whether that was what gave you your self-assurance.
You, my college chums, casual boyfriends, victims of my capricious lust, introduced me to a variety of penises, short and long, thick and thin, curved and straight. You had brown ones and red ones and black ones and purple ones and you gave them to me in many forms and guises, from different directions, and at different angles and different speeds. And you let me pat them fondly and be on my way without lingering, without embracing, without promising if or when I would see you or them again.
Your penises, you miscellaneous, meaningless men I met after college but didn’t especially care for, yours were as immemorable as your faces, your bodies, your spirits. Not one of yours could I pick out of a lineup, not one do I recollect fondly, not one among them did I ever really want to have or to own, but every now and again I still needed to have, even if I did not need to own.
But then came yours, my love, my life, the penis to put an end to all the other penises. From you I learned that it is not the penis that matters, but the man who stands behind it. For sometimes it is red, and sometimes brown, and when you hold me one way it is large, and in another small; you curve it into me when it needs to be curved, and straighten it when it should be straight, and if I want it to be fast, it is fast, and when I want slow, it is slow. I don’t even look very carefully at your penis anymore, except when you’re climbing out of the shower and it’s dangling there all shrunken and lifeless and resembling very much in form, if not in size, the first penis I ever saw. Your penis may be different from all of the others, but it is also exactly the same. And that is how I know that there is more to being a man than having a penis, for after all these years, and all those penises, I’ve only kept coming back to yours.