Standing in the bathroom two days after I lost my left testicle to cancer, I looked at the scar for the first time. First thought: Shit, not another thing to add to the "sexy time" conversation.
Seeing my scar was traumatizing. Not so much in the whole "I have a cancer scar because I have cancer" way, but more in a "Not another very awkward flaw to deal with as a human being" sort of way.
I'm a 30-year-old single man. Okay, 30-year-old single man with an unhealthy complex when it comes to intimacy and sexuality. Pretty much the average American male. So yeah, I'm 30-year-old single man.
Getting sex isn't the easiest thing in the world, and the majorly awkward "No AIDS? Protection? Democrat?" basic pre-sex conversations are just -- well they're not exactly Hepburn and Tracy Banter™ moment -- but add on to that song and dance the explaining of a frankenscar above my junk? It's not the scar that's the problem. It's not the what. It's the WHY. "Oh yeah, I have a scar because of CANCER, carry on." The prelude to sexy times for me is now a cancer pre-show. It's not sexy, and I just can't see this new fact doing a great job of setting the mood. What's less sexy than "I had cancer"? Please let me know, I seek perspective.
"Oh H. Alan, some people are into scars." - Someone Right Now
Hey Someone Right Now, who are these people? I've never met them. But then again, I live in the worlds of Los Angeles and New York City, where a scar is more "I had a bad experience with a Chinatown delivery guy" and less "I heroically rescued the football coach from a burning log cabin." Scars have sad stories in my world.
I get that some people are into scars. It's bigger than just the scar, it's the tidal wave of realness that's figuratively attached to it. BOOM -- humanity. BOOM -- illness. BOOM -- realness. BOOOM -- truth. Hello potential love interest, hope you can handle my truth, because my truth is a pretty crazy scar hovering above my "love interest place." So much for humanity. And yes, I understand that being human and real are good things for relationships, but this isn't about me dealing with Heavy H. Alan Thoughts, it's me dealing with Heavy H. Alan Cancer, right? I don't have to actually face real intimacy and genuine human emotions, do I?
My ideal relationship progression has always been:
#1: Fall in love;
#2: Have petty-but-cute-like-on-TV fights;
#3: Make decisions together... like, do we nap or not on the new living room couch?
I'm starting to get some signs that there's more to it than that.
Fuck. It's ALL CONNECTED? Am I in Cloud Atlas?
My parents' generation got married at age 20, 21. How did they do this? I was still using glossy gel point pens at age 20. I suppose they were too, they were just using them while married. If my mom got cancer at my age, she would have had her husband, her family, her Jane Fonda tapes ('80s!). Aside from some pretty incredible friends, I am alone. I am far away from my family. My family, oddly enough, raised me to be so wonderfully independent. Is the independence that my parents instilled in me backfiring? Am I left to forge my own "H. Alan Scott Is Single... With Cancer" lifestyle?
Being a member of a generation of independent-minded individuals who all opted out of settling down until all of life's goals and adventures got finished -- or at least started -- makes me proud. But with that independence comes a lack of a playbook for having to deal with a huge life interference like cancer. It makes dealing with the cancer -- something that's already hard -- just seem harder. I'm going to have to use my glossy gel point pen to write the Single and Cancerous playbook myself.
Still, I wouldn't have it any other way. In fact, one of the things that I've treasured most during this cancer period is my independence. In the rom-com of life, I'm free, I'm single and I'm happy (cue saxophone music), and even though I have this horrible new quirky-best-friend-type called "Cancer" (FRENEMY)... I'm in control of me, even when my frenemy decides to pull out all my hair. And when I beat the shit out of my new frenemy (I'm H. Alan Scott and I approve this violent message), it might actually end up a pretty badass and REAL thing to add to that "sexy time" conversation. Meet-cute THIS, Hollywood!
Public Service Announcement: If reading this has turned you on in any way, all inquiries can be sent to my OkCupid profile.