Hysteria in the Face of a Hook in My Scrotum

Hysteria in the Face of a Hook in My Scrotum

By Don Hall

I was 9 years old and a latchkey kid.

We lived in an apartment complex on the less than affluent side of town. Mom worked several jobs and the step-dad at the time was a preening, disco-dancing domestic abuser. As such, I found myself out and about without a lot of safety nets in place. I played in a septic ditch just on the outer parameter of the complex. On the other side was an abandoned housing development and I frequently went over there alone to practice my karate (which I thought I was learning from watching David Carradine in Kung Fu, a popular episodic featuring a white man posing as an Asian man who saved people with his peaceful but forceful side kicks). I’d kick holes in the drywall pretending it was comprised of bad guys.

On the north side was, in my mind, a forest but in reality was just a bunch of trees in several abandoned lots. Whenever I ran away from home (a feat that usually lasted until I was tired or hungry) I would go to my forest and “read” the tattered copies of Playboy and Penthouse I had stolen from the aforementioned step-parent.

To the south was a playground for the kids in the complex. A rickety swing set, a teeter-totter, and a broken merry-go-round surrounded by garbage dumpsters. A cursory examination of the dumpsters — a routine activity for a vagabond third grader — revealed a coterie of used hypodermic needles, marijuana roaches, empty liquor bottles and fast food trash.

It’s likely that parents reading this have already crossed themselves or knocked on wood in deference to the fact that their children would never be put in these positions. That their children are safe.

One day, as I had exhausted myself from kicking holes into drywall villains, I headed to the playground. There was no one else around and I decided that I wanted to swing but not on the actual rubber strap. I unhooked the strap from the hefty S-hook it hung from and grabbed it like Tarzan on a vine. I started to swing around in circles holding as tightly as I could to the chain.

Slowly, I began to slide down until the S-hook punctured my white jeans and then into my scrotum. I felt some discomfort and looked down and saw blood on my crotch but I couldn’t disengage. I was hooked, by my ballsack, to the chain. I panicked and did my best to scramble up the chain but the S-hook was firmly in there and the chain just followed me up.

I screamed for help. No help arrived. I struggled and the blood started running down my left pant leg, flowering out like a Rorschach. It seemed I was hanging there for hours but the reality was more likely a few minutes until the hook, now greased with blood, slid out of my nuts and I fell to the dirt. 

Leaping up, I dropped trou on the spot to inspect the damage but there was so much blood that I couldn’t see what was actually a small leaking hole. I cried. I squalled. With my pants around my knees, I ran home.

I smashed into the front door screaming bloody murder that my balls were bleeding. My mother, shocked by the sight of her 9-year-old kid, reddened pants around his knees, crotch covered in blood, and in high hysteria (I mean, who make among us wouldn’t be?), laughed out loud. A giggle turned into a laugh transforming to a barking guffaw.

The more dramatic I was about it, the harder she laughed. Out of shock, out of horror, out of knowing how melodramatic her son was prone to be. She giggled as she washed my junk off and saw the tiny hole. She giggled episodically as she put an ice pack on it and tossed me in the car to go to the emergency room. She stopped laughing by the time we reached the hospital and I received two stitches on the underside of my underside.


Mom used to laugh when she spanked me (an archaic practice when a parent would strike the offending child with her hand or a leather belt as punishment for, say, spray painting graffiti on a neighbor’s door and getting caught because he signed his fucking name to it like a dumbass Banksy). She didn’t laugh because it was fun to hit me. It may have been fun to hit me but that’s not why she laughed. She laughed because when I foresaw potential discomfort, I would launch into Shakespearean histrionics that were so over-the-top it was just funny to see.

If I don’t take seriously the multitudinous cries of the iGen kids heightening their annoyance of micro-aggressions, the reminder that, with Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, old white men in power are only looking out for old white men in power, and any sort of nuanced discussion of either rape culture or identity politics to the rhetorical level of harm, please remember my balls.

I can almost guarantee that anyone of us would rather be asked for the thousandth time where we are from or be triggered by a show trial in D.C. than get a S-hook to the sack.

If, however, you can’t see the point and have been so promised freedom from discomfort and perpetual safety via your parents, your institutional administrators, and the government, please forgive me if I giggle at your Shakespearean tragedies of offense and claims that words hurt as much as physical injury.

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