The Poke

A few weeks back, I bought myself a prosthetic penis just to see what it was like to have one. I didn’t have a plan at first—I wouldn’t use it on myself, you know, like that, even if the thing hadn’t come with a lengthy safety disclaimer written in eight languages with an inflammatory illustration of a penis exploding into a frowny face. But as soon as I drew my new penis from the packing peanuts and held it in my hands, I knew I was on to something. I put it in my literal purse and took it out for a proverbial spin.

At the lake, the sun was shining just right, like kissing with a little flirty tongue, but not all wet where you feel like you’re drowning. I bought some of that sweet-and-salty popcorn that satisfies on all fronts, and was cramming it into my mouth with one hand and doing a little people watching—which I love, like bird watching only judgier—when I realized my other hand had wrapped itself around the penis, inside my purse. This surprised me.

And then my second thought was, well why shouldn’t I have my hand on my penis? It’s mine; I earned this. I found that my hand wanted to pull the penis out in the open, and—Oh. No. Stick it in my popcorn. That’s exactly what it wanted. That’s how good this popcorn was.

I looked around. A pair of loose-skinned women in pastel visors speed-walked toward me, not speedily enough. Just as they passed, a sweet young mother strollered around from behind me, but I couldn’t wait any longer. As if guided by some urethral magnet, the penis dove from my purse and into the sack of puffed-up sweet-n-salty. I watched, amazed, as my fist guided it, in and out, in and out, scattering kernels to the pavement like an offering. A seagull landed to swallow them whole and bob its head in anticipation as my penis finished its work.

My God, I thought as I dropped the penis inside the popcorn bag and clamped my other hand around it, tight. It compelled me to thrust it, even from its hiding place, and I jabbed the crumpled sack at passersby, trying to determine where to go next. At the same time, I was exhilarated. I didn’t want to hide this away. The day was perfect. I’d earned this.

I tossed the sack and rented us roller skates, my penis and I. We jabbed and skated all the way around the lake, jabbed in the clear, inviting water at the end of the dock where people get their wedding photos, jabbed at a roly-poly playdate of Labrador puppies, jabbed at some cute earrings on this girl sunbathing with her top undone.

After we jabbed some hippie’s guitar hole, we skated down to the swimming area, left our marks in the sand, and sat there looking around for what to jab next when a shadow loomed. It was a lifeguard named Trapper, whom I remembered from canoe lessons the summer before. Six feet, five inches of taut, tanned flesh and a squint that reminded me of a twenty-three-year-old version of my favorite professor from college.

He looked down at me over his mirrored shades. Arms crossed, legs spread.

“What do you have there?” he asked me with his perfect lips.

“Come down here,” I said, “I have something to show you.”

Front page image by Lorenia.

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Maggie Ryan Sandford

About the Author

Maggie Ryan Sandford is a science journalist, writer, broadcast media producer, and researcher at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Her work has been published in Slate, Smithsonian magazine, mental_floss, the Onion's A.V. Club,, Paper Darts, and McSweeney's Book of Politics and Musicals, has appeared at the Walker Art Center, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Minnesota Institute of Arts, onstage at the Guthrie Theatre, the People's Improv Theater, and with the Rock Star Storytellers, and on Minnesota Public Radio and Twin Cities Public Television. Learn more about her and dolphin science via @Mandford on twitter and
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