Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Shiksa alert!

Remember the Seinfeld episode called "The Bris," in which Elaine has to hire a mohel to circumcise a friend's baby? This is the same episode in which Kramer sees a pigman in the hospital, and a suicidal jumper lands on George's beautifully parked car, and Jerry the godfather flinches during the circumcision and gets his finger sliced. You can read the entire script here (you'll have to do the voices yourself).

I just read it because I've been invited to a bris for the first time, and I had to do my research. Kramer tries to sway the baby's parents: Imagine, this will be his first memory. Of someone yanking the hat off his little man. I know you love your baby, but what kind of perverts would stand idly by while a stranger rips the cover off his 9-iron and then serve a catered lunch? As I understand it, this week's bris will be a little more breakfasty. I've been promised a morning of bagels and wine, which I can get on board with. I mean, who's got time for a full luncheon two days before Christmas? Presumably a whole lotta Jewish people, yes, but I'm not sure I'll be done buying and wrapping Christmas presents by this Friday.

21 comments:

Charlie said...

I'm not sure I would enjoy that. The wine and the bagels, yes, but the actual brising? We had our son circumcised, and we were more than happy to let the doctor take him out of the room to do it. Neither of us particularly cared to watch.

(That's a shameful story, isn't it? What people won't do to their children to conform. "Look like his father" indeed. Honestly, I now wish I hadn't had it done. But enough with the mea culpa.)

I hope you have a good time. You'll have to tell us all about it -- I'm thinking there's a good chance I'll never be invited to a bris.

Mignon said...

Reminds me of the story about the doctor that decided to make something out of all the foreskins he'd cut off in his career. He brought them all in a jar to a leathersmith who, after several weeks, presented him with a beautiful wallet. But the doctor says, "I gave you over a hundred skins and all I get is a wallet?" And the leathersmith says, "Yes, but if you rub it, it turns into a briefcase."

Orange said...

Holy cow! Were you two just sitting there, clicking "refresh" and waiting for a new post? Those were mighty fast comments.

Thanks for the joke, mignon.

And Charlie, this'll be my first involvement with a circumcision, as Ben is uncircumcised. We figured he wasn't going to look like his dad unless he managed to sprout pubes as a child, and then there's the whole size difference.

I hope I don't get queasy on Friday...

Ellen said...

You don't have to look. Just stand in the back, and then enjoy the food.

leslie said...

delurking to say I've only been to one bris (despite being Jewish) and the actual circumcision was done with just the family present. Your experience may be different of course.

love your blog - been reading for just a little while.

Maine said...

Mmm..... lox.

Ken / Cazique said...

I'm also Jewish and have never been to one, like leslie. We had our son circumcised in the hospital (my wife is not J and was having no part of a celebration for it, and it's not something I've ever felt the need for).

If you think you might get queasy, just don't look. The most important thing to know about Jewish events is that there will be food(*), and you are expected to eat your ass off. Feel free to schedule an emergency trip to the chopped liver during the actual snipping.

(*) Save for the few exceptions where fasting is the whole point, but you're less likely to encounter those.

The Un-Apologetic Atheist said...
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Mona Buonanotte said...

I like my penises sans skin-coat.

Just thought I'd throw in my dos pesos.

kathie said...

We did not circumcise our son...hopefully boys/men will stop examining one another's dick's before my kid hits the gym room showers. Or it will give him a real concrete reminder of why he hates us...here's hoping he doesn't, but at least there'll be a built in reason to do so.

Couldn't bare a circ. after he was born early and poked and prodded for weeks in the NICU...

Orange said...

Hey, Kathie! The NICU thing entered into our decision not to circumcise, too. After the IVs, the heelsticks, the monitor leads, the lights and noises—it would have been too much.

My word-verification sounds like a rolling burp: vruhkh!

Candace said...

We didn't circumcise our son either, the rate in the U.S. has dropped to around 50% now so for these guys there will hopefully not be any gym shower issues.

Mignon said...

Can you all quit taunting me with your foreskin-coated babies? I left the decision up to my husband, but I was very against it, and I still regret it. Now the poor little guy's belly button sticks out farther than his penis.

Leslie said...

We also chose to not circumcise our son. My mother was so appalled by this that she demanded my brother call me up and tell me that I was dooming my son to locker room hell. So E duly called, told me he was under orders and I asked him if boys actually looked at the state of each other's penuses (penii?). He said "nah, just at how far anyone can pee!". End of (very minor) worry for me although my mother never really was reconciled to it.

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

Despite what people say, there still may be health benefits to male circumcision. There is a rough correlation between areas that don’t circumcise and the distribution of AIDS in Africa. I believe the jury is still out on whether this indicates causation, although a recent South African study points to it.

That said, we did not circumcise Joey, under the theory that an uncircumcised penis would only really be a health risk in the presence of other factors, like the ones that are present in Africa. (Last I checked, the major source of the AIDS plague in Africa was the presence of widespread untreated syphilis, which means that many people have open genital sores, which are in turn a conduit for all sorts of evil. [And although this means I am drifting off the real topic into a far more depressing one, the fact that so many people have untreated syphilis in Africa even though the disease is totally treatable is a fucking crime against humanity.])

Orange said...

What would be more pertinent, as Rob suggests, is what the data from Europe show, since conditions in the US are more similar to Europe's than to those of sub-Saharan Africa. I've never heard of rampant HIV or cancers in Europe being related to uncircumcised men.

But you know what? They'll be serving mimosas at the bris! I'm looking forward to going.

The Un-Apologetic Atheist said...

I don't think a potential reduction in HIV infection rates even begins to warrant circumcision, particularly not in the light of the fact that a small (but real!) percentage of the surgeries are botched, requiring later surgeries to correct.

I talked with a friend about this last night, and she said her little brother had to undergo FIVE surgeries to repair the damage the doctor did to his penis during his circ. I call to evidence this relevant quote:

"The estimated 1% to 3% incidence of complications after newborn circumcision covers only the immediate postoperative period prior to the infant's discharge from the hospital. The reported risks are hemorrhage in 1%, infection - occasionally leading to sepsis - in 0.5%, meat[iti]s and meatal stenosis, u[r]ethrocutaneous fistula, adhesions between the glans and remaining prepuce, secondary phimosis, and cosmetically unsatisfactory results. The rate of subsequent repeat surgery to correct adhesions of the glans, meatal stenosis, fistula, and phimosis with buried penis is unknown, but our practice at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia includes about two such cases per month. While this is not a large percentage of the total number of circumcisions preformed, it is a significant number of children undergoing surgery for the complication of this operation." - Schwartz, et al. "Pediatric Primary Care: A Problem-solving Approach" pp 861-862. (emphasis mine)

Now if it was standard practice in our society to, say, cosmetically slice a bit off the labia minora of infant females (assuming that caused no loss of sexual function), resulting in the above specified list of problems, including permanent scarring of the genitals, how would you all feel about it?

The Un-Apologetic Atheist said...

Ack, mis-linked. This is the cited source.

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

Rob UA: I'm with you here, which is why we didn't do it to Joey. As far as we know (or at least I know) the health risks of not circumcising are (1) only significant in the presence of other factors and (2) can actually be dealt with entirely by decent hygene, even when those other factors are present.

DoctorMama said...

I left the decision up to my husband too, but since he's Jewish, there was extra pressure to do it. I wouldn't have. There is a pretty major protective effect for women in areas with high rates of STDs and HIV (probably including areas of the U.S., though it hasn't been studied here), so I comfort myself with the idea that he might one day be helping out some woman. (If he disobeys all the warnings of his parents and doesn't wear a glove.) I have also had a number of elderly patients who ended up needing late-in-life circs, even though they presumably washed appropriately most of their lives. I know these are rationalizations, but the thing is over and done with. (My husband did go in and watch the whole thing, so I can't say he didn't know exactly what he was doing. Baby didn't even notice what was going on, apparently. He did yell after, though.)

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