The Thing About Life is That One Day You'll Be Dead

The Thing About Life is That One Day You'll Be Dead by David Shields Read Free Book Online

Book: The Thing About Life is That One Day You'll Be Dead by David Shields Read Free Book Online
Authors: David Shields
was going out to watch me play punchball. That was the first time in all the years I’d been playing that he expressed a desire to see me play. We played in the street in front of my house. The only interruptions came when a horse and buggy came through. My father found a place to watch at the left-field foul line. I saw him standing there and waved as I took my turn to hit. This time, I hit the ‘Spaldeen’—that’s what we called the Spalding high bouncer—with all my might and it shot like an arrow for the very spot where my father was standing, going probably sixty miles an hour. My father stood there, waving at the ball futilely. It struck him on his left cheek, missed his eye by inches.”
    According to Boyd McCandless, “A youngster
is
his body and his body is
he.
”
    Tolstoy said, “I have read somewhere that children from twelve to fourteen years of age—that is, in the transition stage from childhood to adolescence—are singularly inclined to arson and even murder. As I look back upon my boyhood, I can quite appreciate the possibility of the most frightful crime being committed without object or intent to injure but
just because
—out of curiosity, or to satisfy an unconscious craving for action.”
    Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 
    A dozen or so teenage boys stood atop a jagged rock in the middle of Rattlesnake Lake, four miles southeast of North Bend, an hour out of Seattle. Several teenage girls did the same. I lazed about on a raft, watching from afar. The boys wore cutoffs and, nearly without exception, boasted chiseled chests. The girls, wearing cutoffs and bikini tops, seemed considerably less toned. (During the pubescent growth spurt, girls’ hips widen in relation to shoulder girth. Boys’ shoulders widen in relation to hip width. Eighteen-year-old girls have 20 percent less bone mass in relation to body weight than boys of the same age.)
    The rock was perhaps one story high. The boys chose to dive from the higher parts of the rock into the lake; most of the girls dove, too, but less spectacularly, less dangerously. One girl who didn’t dive kept being pestered by her friend: “I can’t believe you’re seventeen and you won’t dive. If you don’t, I’m never going to speak to you again.”
    The boys at Rattlesnake Lake kept asking one another about their own dives, “How was that one? How did that look?”
    It looks like this: the average penis of a man is 3" to 4" when flaccid and 5" to 7" when erect. The recorded range for an erect penis is 3.75" to 9.6". In the 1930s, mannequins imported from Europe came in three sizes according to the size of the genitalia: small, medium, and American (compared to other cultures, Americans are obsessed with the size of sexual organs: penises, breasts). Lyndon Johnson frequently urinated in front of his secretary, routinely forced staff members to meet with him in the bathroom while he defecated, and liked to show off his penis, which he nicknamed “Jumbo” in a private conversation, pressed by a couple of reporters to explain why we were in Vietnam, LBJ unzipped his fly, displayed Jumbo, and said, “This is why.” Phallocrypts, sheaths that cover a New Guinean man’s penis, run to two feet in length. The length of my penis when erect is 6" (boringly, frustratingly average); I’ve measured it several times. My father, though much smaller overall than I am, is, I’m pretty sure (glimpsed discreetly), markedly more well-endowed. No wonder he used to be such a sex fiend.

Boys vs. Girls (ii)
    At birth, body fat is 12 percent of body weight, increases to 25 percent at 6 months, and 30 percent at 1 year. At age 6, it’s back down to 12 percent again, then it rises until the onset of puberty. Postpuberty, the rise continues in girls, while in boys there’s a slight decline.
    During high school, girls’ bone development is 2 years ahead

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