I don’t have many rules for how I live my life, but one of them is that I refrain from sending pictures of my dick to people.
Firstly, because I don’t really need to. I fail to see a scenario wherein sharing a picture of just my junk is going to get somebody to jump my bones.
And secondly, because I think my penis is unattractive. There is a reason that somebody dubbed the act of sex between a man and woman “Bumpin’ Uglies.” It’s that penises and vaginas are visually unappealing to anybody unless your mind is in the throes of a hormonal takeover.
This presents a strange challenge to men, who have only an ugly penis, and nothing else on a level playing field with breasts, which are, due also to hormonal instinct, glorious to look at, with or without the aid of an Instagram filter. Women also have appealing butts.
On several occasions, I have been lucky enough to receive pictures from women showcasing their naked breasts. It’s a treat, let me tell you, albeit a treat that is short-lived, since it brings with it a feeling of panic re: how you can possibly reciprocate such a gesture. And, truth is, dudes have got nothing. (I suspect this is why so many men go to Jared.)
This is why we send dick pics, I guess, unless you’re a guy who is onto some next-level Anthony Weiner weirdness. The masculine thing is to, if you cannot reciprocate, outdo. Dudes are all about overachieving. So we shill out photos of our purple-headed-yogurt-slingers in an attempt to match the glorious tit pic.
Anytime I receive a photo or am asked to provide one of myself, I remind myself that to fire back with a pic of my junk is not a good idea. (This is partially because when I receive a racy picture, I back it up on a cloud and two external hard drives, and am worried that the woman on the receiving end will behave in the same way—making my dick pic a permanent fixture that can be unleashed to the masses at any time I piss her off.)
I came into February 2015 having never taken a dick pic, and without the intention of ever doing so.
This did not last.
Last summer, I woke up one morning to a real-life nightmare: my penis had some sort of crazy looking rash on it.
I immediately freaked the hell out and scheduled an appointment with my doctor.
Then, of course, I logged onto WebMD to see which STD I had. I mean, it had to be an STD, right? Forget the fact that I—much to my chagrin—hadn’t been having unprotected sex, which is generally a prerequisite for that kind of thing. Using Google images, I ruled out a number of maladies, and narrowed it down to some potential penis pulverizing problems.
My leading contestant was that I had a yeast infection, a hypothesis I shared with my doctor whenever he had me whip my dick out and show him the visual atrocity that it had become.
He did not share my opinion, because “yeast infections are for women,”* but prescribed me an antifungal cream to apply to my smaller head twice daily for two weeks. If it didn’t work, I was to go to a dermatologist. Doc didn’t order an STD test on account of my depressingly inactive sex life, and for that same reason I didn’t take it upon myself to get one.
*Yeast infections are not at all exclusive to women.
When the cream didn’t start to work after a few days, I freaked out. I freaked out even worse when, after about a week-and-a-half of treatment, strange rashes broke out all over my thighs. I convinced myself that I had a systemic yeast infection—which is basically one that starts in the genital region and spreads throughout the rest of the body. In another couple days, rashes appeared on my feet, upper arms, and even torso, while my penis’s condition continued to deteriorate. At one point it looked like it had gotten terribly sunburnt and then started to peel.
I saw two more doctors over the next two months, both of whom hypothesized it was a rare fungal infection. I was prescribed a number of creams and a very strong by-mouth medication that was so hard on the body and liver that I was made to take blood tests for liver functionality. When I did, I was also tested for STDs, and found to be clean (email@example.com, ladies). I also couldn’t drink for a month while on this medication, which was torturous.
I should also note that during this entire three-month ordeal, I was discouraged from having sex with anyone, lest I spread whatever I was burdened with. Not that I needed an excuse to keep on not pursuing women with any passion or outward interest, but it was nice to be able to blame my dry run on something tangible.
The mystery of what was wrong with Scott’s dick and body was finally solved a week after my doctor took a chunk of my afflicted thigh skin and biopsied it. By that time, my penis had miraculously healed itself, which made me the happiest boy on earth, or at least the happiest boy on earth who suspected he might be a leper.
Turns out, I have eczema.
Yes, eczema, one of the most common skin maladies in the world. And it took three doctors and multiple treatments to figure it out. (Thanks, Obama.) My doctor told me I would be dealing with this annoying skin issue for the rest of my life, and prescribed me a steroid cream and many refills, telling me to use it on the rashy areas, but to do so sparingly. Steroids are tough on the skin, and if used too often over a certain period of time, will essentially make your skin very thin. (And I don’t have thick skin to start with. I’ll cry if you look at me the wrong way.)
I picked my cream up at the pharmacy and went home, happy that I finally knew what was going on, even if it was going to be a lifelong annoyance wherein my skin tags will likely frighten and/or repulse some people.
But this story is not done. Recently, I had another eczema breakout on my dick.
This time, it looked even worse than ever before, to a darkly laughable extent. Also, it was itchy as hell. I was strolling around New York City doing The Silly Walk in an effort to keep my eczema-addled mushroom head from rubbing painfully against my jeans.
I was moisturizing like crazy on the old hog, but that didn’t do a thing, and, after a couple of days, I realized I probably needed to seek some professional advice.
I didn’t call my doctor to ask what I should do, because he would want me to come in for an appointment so I could give him a $20 co-pay to look at my junk and tell me what to rub on it. And I’m frugal.
So I did the next best thing:
I called my mom, who is a registered nurse.
When she picked up, I jumped right into it:
“Yeah, so, the eczema is back on my dick in a really big way. I was wondering—can I put the steroid cream on there? I assume that’s not safe, but if I can, I would like to, because this isn’t fun to look at.”
This is strangely normal for my mom and I. She’s used to me talking and writing about really awkward, inappropriate and often sexual things.
However, it is not par for the course for Marlow, the woman my mom goes to weekly for pedicures.
Which is where my mom was when I called her.
And I was on speakerphone.
And Marlow’s 16-year-old daughter was in the room.
“Scott, you’re on speaker,” mom said.
Sometimes when crazy stuff happens, it’s best to just roll with it and hope for the best.
“Hm. Okay,” I said. “Well, can I put the cream on there or not? And if I do, will it make it bigger and stronger?”
Mom told me she’d call me back when she got home.
“Send me a picture. I want to see how bad it is,” she said.
And later that day, I broke my “No Dick Pics” rule.
Scott Muska lives in New York. He writes frequently for Playboy.com. He is followable on Twitter.