Dirtfag Grows a Pair…& Then Some!
by Calum Robertson
A vasectomy is a procedure that makes a man permanently unable to get a woman pregnant.
familydoctor.org (that foundational text of cishet-normative medical thought)
God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.
Yeah, I'm a big boy, honey
Ain't got problems with my insecurities
“Big Boy” by Viagra Boys & Jason Williamson
What Dirtfag noticed first was the heat. Connected to this was the sweat turning to steam under the covers and white undies turning red (from the blood, which they quickly noticed too). But mostly, it was the heat that hit Dirtfag with a cold spike of panic, stabbing right up through their diaphragm, around lungs turning complex interlacing networks of air and veins and nerves into frozen ley lines splashed on a windshield of a lemon rattling down Crowchild towards Banff, circa mid-winter 1997.
Their pubes were wilting. Think a summer choking on borrowed wildfire smoke, turning green prairie grass to long strung out yellow stalks still trying to stay erect. Blood surging down to attend to a rupture, a vein, a riverbank pushed up and the muds all splattered about and the body is panicking and Dirtfag doesn’t know much and Dirtfag is feeling a dreamstate seize control of their shaky brain and it is almost midnight and the doctor said don’t call and but and but and then but also the doctor said for a good time call and the doctor said go to the hospital if grapefruit sprout from beneath the trunk and the blood isn’t spurting only leaking and Dirtfag hates that they sleep in white sheets and who the hell tiedyes with ball blood?
So Dirtfag stands. And immediately collapses. They faint, right foot scuddering out to smash into the desk, chipping off a sliver of wood. Some paint specks will wriggle into the footskin, sneak under the forming scab, stay there until months later a confused Dirtfag body-system will absorb Landlord Helper’s Custom Paint Colour #2. But that isn’t their main concern right now. The dreamstate has descended and their balls are the size of tennis balls and a hematoma is forming though Dirtfag doesn’t know the names of these components, nor are they consciously casting this strange spell their body has become. They’re out of it, dreamstate with a polar bear on the rim of Saturn’s most erotic ring, looking down at a child’s drawing of the earth thinking somewhere down there there’s my balls.
When Dirtfag comes to, their foot has stopped its bleeding. Their balls? Not quite. So to the hospital they must go. Seeking answers, maybe. More like seeking a reason to just sleep it off without worrying about infections. Heatsick feels much nastier than a cold sort of illness. Outside, snow rumbles down King Street rattling the windows of every apartment building feeling extra hollow from winter’s ruminating lashings. It is late summer for Dirtfag’s crotch. Swarmy, swamp, August in Alberta and the fields turn yellow and the bark goes dry and only the truly dedicated still cycle along the Bow, choking on blackfly legs and rattlesnake rumours. Dirtfag never did learn how to ride a bike. After the intended lesson was stolen, they wrapped the replacement in chains, sunk it to the bottom of the garage, amongst saltwash debris from the previous owner’s kids, and when Dirtfag’s daddy wanted to bond on a movie-fine sparkling Sunday afternoon, nothing emerged from the wreckage but bent keys, lost codes, and an eager pair of runners slapping the pavement where wheels might’ve done.
When Dirtfag comes to, they find within themself a calm, masculine voice, charming yet serious, with the authority of someone who knows they need medical attention but have enough of a stiff upper lip to avoid cliches. They listen with slight delight to this voice, this British twink twinge, delicately explain to dispatch the need for an ambulance.
Dirtfag driftwoods again. Somewhen, they come to in fresh blood-thinned undies and a winter jacket, loose boots slapping at bare ankles. On the floor of their building’s lobby. Someone is nattering stay away stay away what the fuuuuuck and another says ah hey buddy you OK? so Dirtfag asks that English silvertongue man who isn’t them but is their voice for right now to saunter on up and say, without moving their neck from the delicious angle bent around the lobby floor tiles ah no worries mate the ambulance is on the way. Dirtfag’s English boydrag pansy would nod, if it weren’t for the body being heavy, the head being too far from the neck from the chest from the throbbing painful late August burn of swollen balls. Outside, snow slams a bristly forehead against the glass door. Somewhere out there, lights sound off with churchbell siren peals. Dirtfag’s getting bored of being in crisis. So. They drift again.
There’s a paramedic or two with a stretcher, questions about the groceries spilt at Dirtfag’s feet. Must be an offering from some other drifter sloshing their way through this strange winternight. Call it Demeter making late summer rites, rising a desert where Dirtfag used to see a meadow. Once, they were alone with forty others somewhere outside of a ghosttown full of tourist dollars. Once, they saw mushrooms sprout from desireeyes and honkytonk lines when friends dressed up as foes and Dirtfag had to hide in the long grass from swinging peckers and hungry lips. This wasn’t that kind of heatsick but it was closer to tall dead stalks bobbing on empty riverbank breeze than, say, a warm fire beckoning with tea and ginger ale boiled over a woodstove like Dirtfag’s daddy always said was best for whatever starts to ail you when your gran is far from here and the words won’t stay on the page and the books all curl with the fervour of peeling leaves but hey look,
let’s try Saints, Grand’s full with all the old folks tipping over into the snow.
and the ambulance ambles through a splatter of half-lively flurries.
Most of the rememberings fuzzy work, so here’s what Dirtfag can scrape together from scraps of tape reels and what was written on the scab on their foot which formed a scar all slick and shiny with summersweat though they are cooler now, the heatsick still lingering, the offerings wilted with the long grass, who knew cabbage and vasectomies would sit together on the shelf of Dirtfag’s recollections?
A statue of the Virgin Mary, scuff mark under her left eye, maybe she’s trying a goth look, maybe Joseph didn’t have enough orders to make tinkering in the woodshop all day worth the weary walk home. Cross yerself, Dirtfag, each time they wheel you past and your balls bob with the rickety pulse of this wheelchair held together by rosary beads and rust, out of habit, but there’s no nuns here, so try your best to fill the oddly quiet halls with something a bit more like faith, remembering the motions and losing the words and gosh but that black mark on her cheek is shimmering and sparkling?
…and the name of your urologist? never heard of him. family doctor? not yours? don’t call? not even for a good time? well i wouldn’t want to bother our urologist but i’ll call him no no its fine hes up its three am thats when urologists like to sit with their feet in a dry gutter and stare at the sun. echoes of the sun left on the swirlings in the sky. you ever see? ya gotta look up more, Dirtfag. here, try these pills. i shucked them from the ceiling. no infection yet so lets pray, shall we? mother mary forgive my youthful ego and the decisions i have made to deny your multiplication tables forgive me a sinner who will not spurt seed and hey Dirtfag why ain’t ya praying?
In the loading dock, hot air is tinged with cold exhaust. There’s a taxi. Two blankets wrapped around borrowed pants. Dirtfag leaves one blanket soaked in blood in the taxi but two months on the driver won’t remember them and though they won’t be bleeding and though it will be earlier in the night and though it will be a heatwave beyond Dirtfag’s sacred grove and though they will have the exact same conversation with this driver about spicy food and journalism degrees from Toronto colleges and Albertan air that hurts your face and reminds you why waking is still worth it this taxi driver nice man that he is sees a thousand Dirtfags every night and loves so honestly with his full heart and fare paid in full with room for a tip that honey you can’t expect him to recall everybaby that bleeds from their balls in his taxi at four in the morning d’ya think even George Jones knew how often he sang that song? Y’know, the one that goes its four in the morning
and now it is closer to ten. and Dirtfag’s on their way to properly waking. heatsick turning heatsweet, so they think of standing. but even just thinking of moving to stay still sets their testicles all a-swaying and the rhythm lulls them back to sleeping.
dreaming that polar bear again, he’s a friendly fellow, a delightful companion to wander inner space with, he snacks on berries tumbling down on starvines from distant suns nearing, that long pink tongue wraps Dirtfag’s tired dry bones in a soothing moist warmth, so different than the saltheavy sweat pouring from them, even in the spirit world their balls are too big and their scrotum won’t stop bleeding and their head hurts with defending why they wanted why they got why all this challenging me i’ve only gone and gotten snipped and burnt and now every doctor needs to hear my thesis defense when the scalpel’s all gone rusted and the scabs won’t form and there’s not much to do but smile sadly and prescribe antibiotics and Dirtfag bucks their narrative even here even with a tuft of polar bear fur soft from long journey’s walk far out in the country get your living done when you’re sleeping so you can rest when waking’s what you must and
Back at Saints, somebody’s cleaned Mary’s face with an oily cloth. She’s weeping grease. The scuffbruise, gone. Dirtfag stumbles down the hallway, walking through a spell of heatsweet sicksweat, trusting legs but trusting the corridor banister more.
think my centre of balance is off y’know weights all wonky Dirtfag says to their partner, loose hair sticking up antennae-set, picking up wavelengths running cross all the veins patchworking through the hospital. Their partner nods, concern is a steady hand placed in the centre of Dirtfag’s back, where shoulderblades dip and sweat pools and something cold squirms while August becomes September choked with BC woodsmoke down by their balls still massive, still swinging, still staggering from one room to the next.
In this next scene, Dirtfag collapses.
In this next scene, Dirtfag collapses, puking, on the ER floor.
In this next scene, while Dirtfag faints and pukes water and soaks their shirt and the nurse’s shoes and the ER floor, the nurse calmly continues talking to Dirtfag’s partner saying eat he needs to eat he needs to and five eager orderlies swoop in to carry the puking watersac Dirtfag up and onto a gurney and Dirtfag starts coming back when the biceps curl around their neck and they hear a gospel choir and they’re back at Bible camp and the polar bear is gone and nothing is new age everything is old time religion and honestly its a surprise it took twelve or so hours for Dirtfag to have a heavenly divine panic cuz the Madonna Immaculate statue doesn’t count that was just art affecting and effecting Dirtfag in the hospital at midnight and in this next scene, Dirtfag collapses, puking, on the ER floor.
In this next scene, Dirtfag doesn’t want to write about it.
In this next scene, Dirtfag doesn’t want to splurge up metaphors about rivers and bowels and guts and late summer.
In this next scene. Dirtfag doesn’t want to remember the disconnect from upper air, the resonance with cold linolenlum, the fear in their partner’s face the delight in the orderlies and their heaving muscle-torso-watersacs the indifference in the nurse seeming miffed that despite her telling Dirtfag don’t pass out Dirtfag still did and Dirtfag is tired and Dirtfag hasn’t stopped bleeding and
in this next scene Dirtfag knows it all works out in the end because they are writing this a couple months on and their hematoma is mostly gone and the bleeding did stop a couple days later and while they still catch a whiff of late summer residue from their balls things are pretty much alright down there and Dirtfag knows it is funny and Dirtfag knows it is funny and Dirtfag jokes about how they should write it all done but in this next scene
In this next scene, Dirtfag doesn’t want to write about rotting in bed, alternating between crude self-sorrow and wry offbeat jokes.
In this next scene, Dirtfag tires of the whole situation.
In this next scene, Dirtfag takes a sip of water, thanks their partner for sharing the stage, and lets bearscent tickle their nostrils all the way to a Saturn-ring.
In this next scene, Dirtfag finally sleeps a restful sleep.
Calum Robertson (fae/faer/faeself) is a full-time tea-drinker, part-time forest cryptid from Mohknistsis/Calgary, Treaty 7, Alberta, currently studying communications in Kitchener-Waterloo, Dish with One Spoon Treaty, Ontario, Canada, Turtle Island. The 2022 winner of the Barbara Schneider Writing Award in Communications, faer work focuses on sound studies, nature, queer identities, and Outsider art. Fae have written nonfiction articles for publications as diverse as university campus newspapers (the Gauntlet), the Christian Courier (community newspaper) and filling Station (experimental literature). Faer poetry and prose has appeared in numerous magazines both online and in print, including Canthius, nod, deathcap, the anti-Langurous Project, Lida Literary, Bourgeon, peculiar, Red Coyote, and Tofu Ink. Fae’d like to be reincarnated as a grouse, next time around. You can find faer on Instagram as @sheepiemcgoaters, where fae typically post cups of tea half-drunk and books mostly read.