By the time I turned twenty, I realized that being a rock star would require more dedication (okay–and talent) than I could muster, and that being a full-time carpenter was no walk in the park either.
I was getting paid well, but spending most of my money on gas so I could drive all over the DC Metro Area in my 1978 Plymouth Fury 440 Police Interceptor (9mpg Hwy/7City) for work and band practice.
Any money left over after paying for my 60-gallon-per-week habit went toward auto parts, insurance, moving violations, court costs, and bar tabs.
I kept crashing cars too, which got expensive.
I wasn’t even paying for rent or groceries, and I was running a huge deficit.
I’d like to say that I finally broke down and went to college to slake a lifelong thirst for knowledge that I could no longer ignore, but the truth is I just couldn’t afford not to.
I needed to go someplace where I could be a pedestrian.
So I lit out for my ancestral home state of Montana, where they had to let me attend the university in Missoula because I was a resident (based on the criterion of having written my grandparents’ address on the application) and I had graduated high school (barely).
For a number of reasons, I turned out to be a pretty good college student.
I realized that it took far fewer hours of studying to get on the Dean’s List than it had taken hours of working to keep my gas tank filled.
And I learned that college towns are the best places in the world if you love going to bars on your bicycle.
I also saw a lot of things I did not expect once I got to Missoula. I thought I was pretty worldly, having been hanging out alternately with harcore DC punk scenesters, and redneck Virginia construction workers.
Violence? Sure, saw some of that. Drinking? Check. Drugs? Yup. Bizarre, horrifying, sexually explicit performance art? Well, one of my buddies from high school had just formed a band called GWAR, with whom my own band sometimes played, so…yeah.
But nothing had prepared me for what I witnessed at, of all places, a “sporting event.”
“Maggotfest” is a “festival style rugby tournament” that’s been held annually in Missoula since 1977.
By 1988, when I was a student at University of Montana, it had become an institution.
On the week leading up to Maggotfest, bars lay in extra stocks of liquor and beer, couches all over town are opened up to visiting players, and, at least when I was there, it seemed like a lot of the ladies were wearing their Levis 501’s a little tighter and their patchouli-scented cleavage a little deeper.
When I rode my bike out to the pitch in the middle of the afternoon to see what all the fuss was about, I found myself in an atmosphere not completely unlike a GWAR performance.
There was profanity, outlandish costumes, nudity, and a real danger of being spattered with bodily fluids. Only, at Maggotfest, this all took place in broad daylight, with parents and children walking around.
And, unlike the synthetic blood and semen spewed by the gallon at GWAR shows, the fluids at Maggotfest were the genuine article.
I strolled past a circle of people that had formed around a petite, attractive young lady with long blonde hair, who was guzzling from a beer bong with a 4-can capacity.
After she had drained the funnel, she began to spin like a whirling dervish.
She continued to do so as the contents of her stomach left her body through her mouth, creating an agribusiness-grade vomit sprinkler that drenched anyone within a 20-foot radius.
After narrowly avoiding the puke-shower,
I squeezed into another group that had gathered around an old school bus with the logo of a rugby team from some town up in Saskatchewan with a name like Dog Leg or Moose Bone spray-painted on its flank.
“Step right up, ladies and gentlemen,” called out a huckster from atop the dilapidated bus. “Step right up and see the world famous Flying Zamboni brothers astound you with their impressions, contortions, and concoctions!
You won’t believe your eyes! Two of the seven wonders of the world, right here, right now!”
The two burly, bearded men who shared the stage with this impresario removed their robes to reveal their matching outfits, which consisted of rugby jerseys, socks, and sneakers.
The men began stretching out, as if in preparation for a match: first their quadriceps, then their hamstrings, followed by their shoulders. And then they began stretching their flaccid penises penes penii dicks to the limits of their plasticity.
Once they were properly warmed up, the show began.
“For their first impression, ” hollered the impresario, “The Zamboni Brothers will perform…’The Pretzel’!”
At this, the men interlocked their tallywhackers as if they were the intertwined arms of newlyweds drinking their first champagne toast as spouses.
They grabbed the loose ends of their respective dongs and pulled them taut, creating a passable fleshly representation of the type of pretzel you might pick up from a kiosk at the mall, minus the salt crystals.
From there, they moved on to the more difficult “Baby Elephant Being Born,” which required them to turn their backs to the audience, bend over, and pull their wieners and their scrotums scrota scrotaea balls out from between their legs so they would peek out from under their butts, like tiny elephants with penis trunks and testicle ears.
Playing to a largely receptive audience, they ran through an impressive repertoire, including tricks with names like “The Crossbow,” “Night Train,” “Mount Rushmore,” and “We Are the World.”
And for the grand finale, the MC recounted to the rapt audience the origin myth of the Zamboni Brothers.
“What you might not know about the Zamboni Brothers,” he said, “is that, when they were born, they were actually conjoined twins. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Mikey and Tony were born as Siamese twins, joined at…the penis.
“They were not expected to live long in this condition, and if it were not for the skill and precision of a certain fearless surgeon, perhaps these two fine young men would not be standing here before you today.
“Well, ladies and gentlemen, we are lucky enough to have with us today, that very surgeon who first operated on the Zamboni boys so many years ago. That brave man who defied the odds, risking the lives of these fine lads, as well as his own reputation, in order to give them a normal childhood.”
He paused, letting crowd soak up the dramatic implications.
And then he bellowed: “For it is I, Dr. Pudcutter, who performed the lifesaving operation that allowed them the rich, full, existences they are enjoying today!” The crowd burst into applause.
“And for our final number,” he went on, “I will be re-enacting that surgery right now!”
The Zamboni Brothers then approached each other on center stage, and, by some intricate, and probably copyrighted, manipulation of foreskins, managed to attach their schlongs one to the other in such a way that their hands were free to wave to their fans.
Meanwhile, Dr. Pudcutter had produced a large kitchen knife and was “sterilizing” it with a bottle of warm Molson.
The good doctor raised the knife up above his head, and, with one swift motion, brought it down between the two men, who pulled apart just in time to give the illusion of the knife having bisected their shared wang, rendering them distinct humans with their own sovereign pricks.
The crowd went wild, and I drifted away, lost in thought, to witness further debauchery, performance, and sports.
So what’s the point of this story? Just this:
As I wandered away from that rusty bus, my young head was spinning with questions and ideas.
Questions about sexuality, sports, art, and Canadians.
But also the gut feeling that there was a deeper meaning to this performance than just light entertainment.
When my friend, fellow dad blogger, and nicest guy you could ever meet, Jim Higley, asked me to be a part of the “Man Up Monday” campaign for his “Single Jingles” testicular cancer awareness foundation by writing a post that may or may not relate to the health of men’s undercarriages, this is the story that immediately came to mind.
It took over 25 years, but finally, the message was revealed.
The Zamboni Brothers were presenting a critique of the taboo surrounding men’s nether parts.
To protect our junk, their performance suggested, we must not oppress it with shame, but rather expose it and celebrate it! Well. Maybe not literally “expose.” And maybe not literally “celebrate.” But you know, talk about it.
Especially to our sons, who may be reluctant to discuss abnormalities or changes in their testicles because of embarrassment.
Testicular cancer is the #1 cancer in young men, and it’s also highly survivable.
But to survive it, you have to detect it early, and to detect it, you have to know what to look for. So talk to your son.
About his balls.
But I’m not sure you want to bring up rugby.
It’s Man UP Monday!
I’m proud to be a member of the Single Jingles Man UP Monday BLOGGING TEAM!
Today, I’m doing my part to spread an important message about Testicular Cancer.
- Did you know that Testicular Cancer is the #1 cancer in young men ages 15 to 35?
Did you know that Testicular Cancer is highly survivable is detected early?
Did you know that young men should be doing a monthly self-exam?
What can you do?
Stop by the Single Jingles website for more information on Testicular Cancer
Request a FREE shower card with self-exam instructions – it just might save a young man in your life!And if you’re feeling just a little AWKWARD about this conversation, check out this video from some parents who feel the exact same way!