The first time I saw a foreskin (I think I just plagiarised that opening line from Dickens) I was in a big tree. Now, before you get too aroused at all these titillating details, I’ll point out that I was eight years old. Also the foreskin was probably about seven, but it’s hard to tell with those because they’re born old. Foreskins and scrotums are the Benjamin Buttons of the body (only they don’t get younger… so not at all like Benjamin Button). I’d also like to take this opportunity to point out that the foreskin was attached to a body. Luke’s body. Specifically it was attached to Luke’s penis.
A brief round up before we continue: As a child, I was in a big tree when I saw the safe, clean, anatomically correct, atheist foreskin of another child.
It was all consensual and unrelated to anything sexy. We had been building a den when Luke said, ‘Do you want to see something I can do?’ and I said, ‘What can you do?’ and he dropped his trousers, pulled something out of his pants, and squeezed just below the end of it. At this point in my life, I’m aware I saw the head of his flaccid penis come peeping out through his foreskin. But at the time I saw a mesh of garbled flesh, as though Luke had been in an accident, and whilst he had healed from the accident, he had healed poorly and misshapen. So I said, ‘Oh yeah,’ and we got back to building.
My parents’ house has those little windows above the bedroom doors. Instead of normal, nice thick wall between door and ceiling, there’s glass. This utterly redundant window provided a prime viewing area for ghosts and monsters to watch me sleeping as a kid. I would stare at that window from my bed, gazing into the darkness of the hallway beyond, and all-but-know there was a shadowy face grinning down at me.
My mum eventually put a translucent floral decal on the window, but by this point I was eighteen and the monsters had transferred their voyeuristic tendencies to younger kids in the neighbourhood. Fourteen years too late, Mum.
Anyway. One day, when I was somewhere between the ages of five and nine, I was alone in my bedroom pretending to be dead. I’d turned my rocking horse onto its side and draped myself over it, eyes closed, dead. After cycling through a few different death positions, all involving the rocking horse (some, more elaborate deaths involving stretching between the upturned horse and my bed), I looked up from a particularly dramatic pose to see a face in the window. I screamed.
My father had stood on the laundry basket to spy on me in my room through the bastard window. The fear of seeing a face watching me, through glass, from eight feet high only barely masked my embarrassment at getting caught dying. Neither of us ever mentioned it.