Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Eye Wit's Book of Etiquette or the Lack Thereof: Your Guide to Grabbing the World by the Short Hairs

Once again, I reach into the burgeoning, aromatic mailbag, and try to answer a question about life.... The universe.... Anything. Most of the letters begin with the phrase "What the hell should I do? For God's sake, please help me!"

Why exactly that keeps happening is still a mystery to me. It has been suggested that many of the people asking for wisdom from The Book had been drinking heavily at the time. Preposterous, I say! Why, most of the letters I receive smell like the great outdoors, not Southern Comfort.

So, to whom shall I try to provide comfort this evening? To advise them, so that they know, with full confidence, that they're getting the best bloody etiquette advice in the world? You see, the problem with most etiquette books is that their essential aim is about how the world "should be". All very nice and well, Emily Post (Oh, she was a real bitch in person. Everyone in the Newport mansions used to say so, and would comment in the most graphic of terms about her chronic flatulence)(But I digress). The Eye Wit's Book, while it does try to create a framework for a more tolerable world, is heavily based on the world as it really is. There's no sense pretending that anyone nowadays cares if you use the wrong fork at a formal meeting of the Akron Cannibal Society. There's not a lot of sense in pretending that many people care about Akron, either.

Well, let's see what I draw....

Dear Eye Wit,

My wife and I just adopted a baby boy, and she insists that he ought to be circumcised, because no decent man should arrive at an orgy and "still be wearing his coat". I'm not very comfortable with the idea. I mean, who wants a razor-sharp blade aimed at their-- Look, what I want to know is: Who ever thought to start circumcisions, and what is the exact purpose of the procedure?

-J.W. Bobbitt

Well. Didn't see that one coming.... but, it's a very good question. Naturally, in its voluminous pages, the Book has the answer:

Dear J.W. Bobbitt,

The practice of circumcision goes far past the limits of recorded history. Cave drawings have been found in Luxembourg depicting the practice in its earliest known form. This consisted of several men holding the circumcisee firmly against a tree. The next drawing shows what is believed to be the village wise woman inserting the circumcisee's member into the mouth of a goat. Alas, the rest of the pictogram is lost to history; as any zoologist will tell you, the guano of the Luxembourg Smallberries Bat is the most corrosive in the world. The earliest known written reference is a frantic inscription on the edge of the Rosetta Stone that said "Take your damn hands off me, and touch not my foreskin, as I was planning to use it later!"

It is generally accepted that the practice was not, at first, voluntary.

To most males, this is not a surprise. Among Indo-Europeans, circumcision was a tradition practiced upon warriors who were called "The Losers". This occurred during the Bronze Age, when metal tools were not as sophisticated; many times, the incision of circumcision lacked precision or supervision, and the excision exceeded the mission. In these cases, the ones called "The Winners" would engage in a ritual called "Knee-slapping". This practice was followed by many cultures for thousands of years, since the Indo-Europeans were widely regarded as "The Most Hip" in ancient Europe. The ethnic group that was on the cutting edge of this "custom" were the Jutes; the reason being, that the Jutes were chronic members of "The Losers" faction. Feeling that they had little more to lose (at least, that they cared much more about), they eventually settled in the area now known as Denmark. This was the beginning of the biggest economic boom in the history of Sweden, just across the Baltic Sea. The Swedes were most famous at that time for their "Swedish Dikini Team", which always made them swell with national pride. This was key to their learning of the Jutes' shortness of pride, and their subsequent offer to the Jutes to assist them (for the right price, of course). The Swedes were also known as skilled healers, surgeons, and especially massage artists. While they had not developed a way to un-circumcise "Losers", they proffered a more radical approach: keep right on cutting, and create the semblance of a very ugly but somewhat "functional" Jute woman from the pitiful remains of a Jute warrior. The Jutile men, desperate for anything to grasp onto, drove in sails- wait, sailed in droves to Sweden. The Jutiful women, who hadn't quite gotten the point of the project, excitedly met the returning ships at Copenhagen, expecting to see their men restored to their glory and ready for some "invasion" in their own country. Imagine their disappointment when they were greeted not by their men, but by strangers to them: a new type of Jute woman. It was a bitter day, indeed; not only had the women NOT regained the services of their men, but the new "women" were more attractive than they were.

To this day, asking someone for a date in Denmark is a risky business.

The next major phase in the history of circumcision, of course, was the introduction into the Mosaic Law of the Hebrews that all males were to be circumcised as a sign of being of the Chosen People. Some of the Dead Sea Scrolls shed some light on this, describing a heated argument between Aaron and Moses.

Aaron declaimed: "What kind of crazy idea is this? Cannot our God choose some OTHER way for us to have a sign marking us as the Chosen People?"
"I'll tell you what, Aaron: You go up Mount Sinai, and you tell Him it's a bad idea."
"Well, it simply isn't practical, Moses! What, are we supposed to approach the heathens in battle, and 'whip it out' to show them that they'd best not touch us because this is the mark of our Mighty God?"
"Practical, schmactical! Aaron, God just wants to know if you're really, really serious."
"I'm plenty serious! You see this ephod? Do you know how much it COST?"
"As I recall, it was made out of gold and gems we took from the Egyptians."
"That isn't the point! Every time I go outside, somebody tries to mug me and swipe it! And I would not have time to disrobe and show the assailant the reason for which he should not transgress! So, thank you very much, but I don't need you waving that sword at me with the intention of swiping my-"
"Aaron, stop kvetching and hold still! You want I should slip?"

And there the fragment ends. History proves to us that Moses apparently won the argument. The next reference in the timeline was uncovered recently in the archives of the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantines were fascinated by style, and would adapt nearly anything to their culture that they thought might make them seem (and this is the first historical reference to this word in this context) "cool". Well, one of their kings, Bezelskrotum, was hosting an orgy in honor of the visit of a unnamed king from the Steppes. Bezelskrotum, having heard of this VERY exclusive practice among the Hebrews, decided that he just had to have it. On seeing the evidence at the orgy, the other king asked incredulously what the hell he'd done to his "purzansker", as they called it at the time. Bezelskrotum laughed mockingly and said "The joke's on YOU, dung-breath! Look! It makes 'mine' hang lower than 'yours', and we all know what THAT means!"

What it meant was a horribly bloody war between the two peoples, which plunged all of Asia Minor into such abject destruction that a rogue group of Far East adventurers rode in and took over, establishing the Wangg Dynasty. In intervening years, circumcision continued to be a hotly contested practice. The Teutons let it be known through fierce fighting and incendiary comments about their foes' mothers that nobody was going to touch THEIR "geshtungas". In the Russias, it fell largely out of practice, because cold things contract, and there were too few people with steady hands. In Morocco, they adopted a law that allowed males to perform the mandated circumcision on themselves, as long as they brought the "evidence" to the priests, who were also the communal cooks. This, in turn, led to a deception where some men would cut the pizzle-swaddling off of a camel to present to the priests. The camels did not react well to this, and killed or maimed most of the men who attempted it. Thus did circumcision once again escape the Sword of Damocles, though the Sword was a damn foolish thing to use to try to perform a circumcision with anyway.

Cultural mores regarding circumcision came and went. Women in many cultures complained that they always came too soon, and before they'd even noticed that anything was going on. However, in the "modern era", if we have the hubris to call it that, we have primarily British physicians to "thank" for its continuation. The official explanation was that it led to a more sanitary life. The REAL reason, and why it continues today, is that it gives them something else to charge their patients for. Although it is a fiercely protected secret, the excised tissue is spirited off for a secret ritual practiced by the Freemasons.

The practice is in very common usage in America to this day, although there is no longer any connection to the Freemasons. They have been far too busy in recent years lobbying the author Dan Brown, pleading with him to write something conspiratorial and sneaky about them to give the public some reason to pay attention to them. Stupidly, the purpose behind that is that if people do start asking probing questions of the Freemasons, they'll refuse to answer.

Now, as to the question of your son: At this point, it truly is optional. Some doctors expound upon the advantages of circumcision, but most of those doctors are Toastmasters. There's not a compelling social reason, either, though you should be aware that many women have a decided preference between "cut" and "uncut", and in some cases, "cold cut". Whatever choice you do make, keep in mind that your son will eventually be the one to have to deal with it. However, in order to settle the issue between you and your wife amicably, I hope, I offer two suggestions:

-Tell her that the chances of him ever encountering some pillaging Assyrian soldiers, and needing to wave his denuded wand to scare them off are practically nil.

-Take a survey of what's currently popular, and make a calm agreement between yourselves that whichever option is most in vogue, that is what you will follow. This way, it's strictly a numbers game.

To do this in the fastest possible way, I recommend that you search the Internet. You'll need to find a lot of porn sites depicting naked men. Although I'm not an authority in that area, I can refer you to someone who knows a lot about the Internet and penises:

Former Florida House Representative Mark Foley, Republican.

I hope that helps.

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