The time has come for me to introduce another important character that has played a big role in my life. For that reason and no other, I will refer to him as Mr. Big on this blog. I worked for Mr. Big for about three years, at two different places. We were close friends at some point. When we met, I had just come into the country two months before, and didn’t really know the ropes. Mr. Big helped a lot over the years by teaching me the American traditions and culture, as illustrated by this story.
One evening, I was in the apartment, giving the kids a bath. They were about five and three years old at that time. Normally, I’d just put them both in the tub at once. While I was bathing them, the doorbell rang. Mr. Goldie wasn’t home yet, so, being the only adult in the apartment, I had to go and get the door. It was Mr. Big. He had an urgent question or something, so figured he’d stop by for ten minutes or so.
While Mr. Big and I were talking, we were rudely interrupted by my two children. They got out of the tub and came to the front door, buck naked. Mr. Big quickly cut the conversation short, and went on his way, and we went back into the tub.
Next morning, as soon as I came into the office, Mr. Big pulled me aside with a serious look on his face.
“We need to talk about yesterday. This is unacceptable.”
“Yeah, sorry about the kids. I guess they got tired of waiting, so they got out. You’re right, I need to teach them better manners, they cannot walk around naked like that.”
“No, that’s not the problem. Yesterday I noticed that both your children are not circumcised. This is not good. That’s not how it’s done in America.”
“Um, er, they don’t circumcise newborns in Russia, and er, as you know my both boys were born there, and, um, now I guess it’s a little too late for that, isn’t it?”
“It’s never too late. Get it done. Get them to a doctor and schedule a surgery. Kids will tease them in school if you don’t. Can you imagine when they start school, and they come to class, and they aren’t, and everybody else is?”
“Everybody else? Are you sure?”
“Absolutely. Remember the guys from our previous job? Jim and Dave and John and Andrew. Even Matt. They’re all cut. It’s the American way, I tell you.”
My jaw would have fallen to the floor, but, during my first years in America, nothing surprised me. I kept hearing about so many customs and traditions (mainly from from Mr. Big) that seemed beyond bizarre to me, but were THE American way, according to my helpful advisors. After a few months of that, I just got used to the fact that Americans were strange creatures. Maybe checking out other guys’ wieners was the American way, too. You could never tell.
“How do you know,” I asked out of sheer curiousity.
“Oh, we all used to go to the same gym.”
“OK,” I agreed meekly, “it’s probably as you say. You’re right, we should get it done.”
Mr. Big had me so convinced, that, a year later, when K9 (then four years old) had to be circumcised for medical reasons, I was happy about it. Finally, I was upgrading at least one of my sons to the American version. One thing I’ll have to tell you about being circumcised later in life, as opposed to when you’re born, is that, from what I can tell, it hurts like crazy. After the surgery, K9 and I spent many a night in conversations such as this:
“I wanna pee.”
“But I’m afraid it’s gonna hurt.”
“So, don’t pee.”
“But I wanna pee.”
And so on for an hour or two, repeat every other hour, get up at six, go to work, pretend to be awake, try not to fall asleep at the wheel on the way home. It was a heck of a time.
But, thanks to Mr. Big, our whole family, K9 included, was positive that it was all worth it. We were making K9 be Like Everybody Else, and helping him escape the Teasing In The Locker Room.
Later on, I found out that, despite the fact that Dave and John and Andrew are all cut, not everyone in America is. More than that, that there are whole groups of mothers in this country that are adamantly anti-circ.
Moral of the story, beware of people trying to show you the One and Only American Way, especially if it also happens to be painful and/or involve locker-room snooping.