This weekend we saw a man cycling on the high street and his penis was hanging out of his cycling shorts - kind of wedged between his leg and the seat. That sort of thing catches you off guard no matter how open minded you are. I suppose a penis on a Bank Holiday Monday morning seen out of context does that to a person. I wanted to chase him down and tell him, because I would have been mortified if it was me (if I had a penis that is) and I'd want someone to tell me. My husband blushed and said he wouldn't. We discussed the structure of cycling shorts and I said: "But wouldn't he notice? I mean, doesn't he feel it against his leg and exposed to the fresh air? Hmmm maybe men always feel it against their leg even inside of their shorts, so maybe not." My husband smiled awkwardly as I mused about the ins and (in this case) outs of inadvertent penis exposure and turned a deeper shade of red. But I still maintain if I was on the path and not in the car, I would have told him, whereas my husband would not. I'm beginning to wonder if this is a man thing? Two weeks ago I was at my osteopath and when I got home I saw that my mascara had run under my eyes to such an extent that I resembled a panda. My osteopath, a man called Matt, had said nothing. I'm not talking a few flakes or a smudge, but serious amounts of black stuff under my eyes. The following week when checking my eyes before leaving I mentioned it and he said he genuinely hadn't noticed.
Would you tell a stranger (not a flasher but someone who had accidentally exposed himself) his penis was hanging out? This might be a good post dinner conversation starter in more or less similar territory to the ever controversial question: If you saw your friend's husband or wife in a passionate embrace or more with someone other than their husband or wife, would you say something?
This is always a very tricky question and the responses are as varied as the people you ask it to. The most common response is: If it was me I would want to know, but I'm not sure I could be the messenger that prompts the ending a marriage/relationship. Years ago I was in this position and had to deliver news to someone very close to me about their partner who was, as it turned out, a serial cheat. I approached him first telling him I knew and offered him the opportunity to tell his fiancé first. He sneered and said: "I guess not." And before you think I am just some meddling cow, please know I took this business extremely seriously and had absolute evidence before doing anything. And his response, non denial, absolutely zero visible contrition of any kind, not to mention the cocky response, all helped me feel my decision to tell my friend was right. And so I was the bearer of bad news, which ended their engagement and she moved out of their shared apartment. Later it transpired that there were quite a few women and a lot of his life was fictionalised. My friend, now happily married to a lovely man, assures me it was the right decision. But I imagine this instance was an exception and it can be a lot more complicated in other cases especially where there are also children involved. Also one only has to watch shows like Jerry Springer to see that sometimes the messenger quite literally gets shot, or at the very least beaten up. Actually, scrap that, I don't advise watching Jerry Springer.
Recently I had a taxi driver, a gregarious older man in his late 60s, who told me that he works from 12pm to 3am every day, but not on the weekends. I asked him what business he gets in the early hours of the morning during the week, apart from say prostitutes? (I joked). "Er, yes, I have a few of those," he replied matter of factly. "And people travelling to the airport. But the prostitutes are not a problem actually, it's the young girls who fall out of the clubs in the early hours. They've spent all their money and are quite drunk. So they offer me sexual favours in return for a ride home. And I think to myself, this is someones daughter. I mean, I have a daughter and a granddaughter. It's tragic."
And then I took a moment to shudder and pray to god that my daughter would never be in that position and promised myself to get her a safe and professional taxi company account so she could always find a ride if her father or I were not able to collect her that is, regardless of the late hour. Please note this is at the very least 10 years away - but why put off neurotically worrying about something in the future that you can lose sleep over today right? And of course I made a mental note to lecture her endlessly about the dangerous of excessive drinking. Oh bloody hell. Like a friend of mine says: "Now your children are little and they are in and out of bed and asking for one more bedtime story or a drink of water, and you are tired and increasingly annoyed. Well enjoy it. At least you know where they are and that they are safe. When they start going out alone with their friends, and you are lying awake in bed at night unable to sleep before they get home, now that's tough." And when I hear this taxi driver talking I think how right she is.