I opened my eyes the morning following our company’s typically rowdy holiday bash. Every hotel, regardless of how opulent or bland, forces the same fundamental question: Where the hell am I again? This is not my beautiful house! It hadn’t been a particularly crazy night of partying, because I knew the next day deze nuts had a date with destiny.
It was fitting that we threw a company-wide going away party for my fertile years. This may have been only in my head that night, still I talked about my impending procedure to anyone who asked prying questions like “How’s it going?” or“Any plans for the weekend?” or “Where’s the coat check?”
There was still some emotional processing regarding hanging up my reproductive career. Any lingering doubts had to be the remnants of some instinctual, animal-level survival stuff at this point, as I lamented all of the 3 billion+ females who wouldn’t have the opportunity to bear my child. At some point I decided somehow we’d all be OK, and perhaps even much, much better off.
But on this hotel morning, instead of needing to determine my whereabouts I sat straight up in bed.
“Oh, God. I need to shave. My… balls.”
What good would it be to have survived the shaving of that gentleman’s nutbag in the pre-op video, only to have completely missed the point? I would need to shave my own and show up shorn, accessible, and tidy. After 3,500 vasectomies I can only imagine how much my doctor must appreciate a clean workspace. As is my way, I wanted to be his favorite pupil. I not only watched (and laughed my ass off) at the video, but I could also follow doctor’s orders. I was going to be his best patient ever.
So with the grace and guided hand of an Italian sculptor, I shaved my balls. Images of my parents flashed through my mind, holding me as a baby, letting go of my bike seat on our culdesac, and then driving me to my first boy-girl party. All of that life stuff had led me to this: a bathroom in a boutique hotel in Chicago, gingerly shaving myself before closing the door on that aspect of my life forever. It was a bizarre morning of self-discovery.
My parents were characteristically split over the idea of my vasectomy. My Father, truly knowing the raw-power of The Carter Seed saw containment as the only responsible measure. This didn’t stop him from taunting me, saying I’d now sing like Frankie Valli in a permanent, ball-less falsetto. My Mom offered her usual “poor Krissy” condolences. She seemed spooked that all of this was coming “too soon” in my life, or in her life, or in the life of my balls.
Shaven, shaven, showered, and packed, I caught a cab. My brother needed me to swing up North to pick up some Christmas gifts for our family. To be specific, this year Uncle Jason & Auntie Laurie went big and bought everyone iPads. I would obviously need to carry the three individually wrapped iPads on the plane. Luckily I still had plenty of time to get to Midway airport, and through security. I was on an 11:00 am flight, and with the time zone change I’d land just after 1EST. Doctor Spear would need to see me and my tenders out in Akron at 2:30 sharp.
As I’m checking my suitcase with the airline, my license is nowhere to be found. I tear apart both bags, the bag of iPads, everything. No license. Miraculously, you can still check a bag without an ID on Southwest. I headed downstairs to security to barter my identity with the TSA agents. As I’m on the escalator, the whole process comes back to me. I had been through a similar ordeal last year when my wallet was stolen. I would need to confirm my identity through a series of Big Brother questions with The Man Upstairs. They would ask my neighbor’s names, what kind of car I drive, etc. It would set me back no more than 10 minutes. But then I turned the corner and saw an unruly magnitude of holiday travelers. All waiting in line for security, which had all 10 lanes open.
This was going to call for some patented Krissy Big Zen. And, breeeeeeeathe.
The beauty of dedicating so much of your life to meditation is that you can easily dial back difficult circumstances before they spiral out of control. I’m used to being one of the more jovial, agreeable travelers in any airport. I’m used to putting my safety and schedule in the hands of forces I have no control over. The people that don’t get this, especially the frequent business traveler types, are pretty scary or at least mildly stupid. Why would you choose to be miserable in line, or to people doing their jobs, or to your current situation or job just because you have control issues? Let that shit go, I say. In these moments, where I’m being served up curveballs on an already intensely stacked day, all I can do is focus within.
Line them up, knock them down. Step 1 is to be the friendliest mofo the people next to me have met all day. Step 2 is to conjure up any excuse to laugh. “My nads are conspiring to make me miss this flight.” And within a few moments, in circumstances that become other peoples’ hell and chaos, I find my peace.
I’m on my way home. Gayle is driving me to the doctor. I have a bag full of honkin’ iPads for our house. It’s almost Christmas. All of these people have amazing lives waiting for them at their homes. The moment slows down and I can breathe my own outcomes into the mix. I’m fully aware and in control. No outcomes really feel all that bad, in fact I’m now part of a fairly amusing misadventure.
Holding onto the zen as the minutes tick by is the challenge. It starts fading in and out as people get more jittery, less patient, and openly hostile in some cases. The bad thoughts arise: “Gayle will murder me if I miss this flight, and our appointment.” By the time I got up to the TSA desk I had 30 minutes until my plane took off, and there was still an ocean of people in front of me to get to the scanners. First I still needed to haggle my identity. For some reason it was a completely different process than last time. He wanted to see credit cards, and a billing address. I pulled out everything I had and he finally initialed my boarding pass.
A few lanes converged before the scanners and I had to resort to racial, ethnic, religious, sexual-orientation, familial, and economic profiling to improve my odds at making the flight. I tried to recall all of Clooney’s rules from Up In The Air, maneuvering my way through the mess of people, toward a line with the best odds at being efficient. As I was stepping up to take position, an oblivious teenage kid steps in front of me. He’s blaring his Beats By Dre headphones.
This slacker looking, giant- shorts-riding-his-ass, tactless, numbskull is going to determine if my wife and I have any more kids? My brain veered violently off course, and then I reeled it back in. Somebody somewhere loves this knucklehead.
I’m sort of proud that I’m such a horrific profiler, as every person in our line had bag checks. Agents would get up and leave the scanning station, apparently looking for back up. They were bullshitting with each other, laughing. I had about 15 minutes until my flight departed, so I was definitely missing the boarding experience. I become silent, and focused. Then 10 minutes until my flight, and then 9 minutes.
The kid in front of me had a massive backpack full of electronics and a laptop. It didn’t occur to him to remove his headphones either. I had to laugh. I tried to help him, as kindly as possible. Justice served him a full cavity search off to the side so they could keep the line moving. I sent my carry-ons through, genuinely smiling.
It is now 5 minutes until departure, and I’m a good 80-100 yards from the gate. The iPads go through. I tell people what to look for. They scan them again, gather around the screen, and then tell me to send them through one last time. As they’re coming through the third scan, all of the agents are asking me about iPads and why I have so many of them. All I could do was laugh, and think that it would really suck to get this close and then miss the flight. By this point I’m hearing my name repeatedly over the intercom.
Mr. Kris-TOFF-er Carter, please report to Gate B-12 for immediate on-time departure. Final call Southwest Flight 475 direct service to Cleveland.
I got my shoes on, my laptop in its bag, and left my belt hanging wildly from one loop. From this point, it was blind adrenaline. If I was going to make it I’d have to wind sprint as fast as humanly possible, lugging a packed laptop bag and a bag full of iPads. I darted through the moving walkways yelling “on your Left! On your Right!” I bobbed and weaved between strollers, cartwheeled between two kissing lovers, kicked a janitor just for sport, and OJ Simpson’d over a kiosk.
“I’ve come too far, damnit! I’m done with my sperms, foreverrrrr!”
I turned the corner into the gate. The door to the plane had about 4 inches until it was fully closed. I made eye contact with the gate agent, who could see in my soul that I needed this flight to happen. He simultaneously grabbed the ticket, and the door, which hit me on the ass on my way in.
There was one seat left on the plane, riding bitch between two much larger gentlemen. I wedged my heaving, sweaty mess between them and texted Gayle:
Made my flight. See you soon.