In keeping with my proud academic tradition of turning every (goddamn) paper in late, here is my entry into the pantheon of Sidespin Athletic Failures:

PART ONE: WITH HAIRY HANDS, I TYPE

"Do you masturbate?", my Father asked, trying his best to be sympathetic to what he thought my problem was sure to be.

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Now, at 14, I never wanted to have to admit to that particular act to this particular man unless he happened to accidentally barge in on me one day, but this was a medical emergency. "Yes.", I admitted, staring a hole into my sheets and blanket, my cheeks burning.

"When was the last time?"

"Two days ago." I lied, by a day.

Well, that rules out blue-balls, he must've thought. "OK, let me take a look."

I slowly pulled back the blanket and pulled down my sweatpants and underpants, revealing a testicle so swollen, it stretched the skin of my scrotum, and so painful, just brushing it against the inside of my thigh made me want to vomit from pain. "Holy shit", my Dad said, then called out to my Mom, "Hon! He needs to go to the doctor! Does Dr. Miller take patients on Saturday?!"

"I'll call!", she shouted back, and began making phone calls.

My father looked back down at me, embarrassed for both of us for what I'd been unnecessarily forced to admit to him. "Hey, kid." he said, "Did you hear about the Irish kid who confessed to masturbation?"

"No.", I mumbled miserably.

"Yeah. The priest told him it'd make him go blind, so he asked, 'Well, can I keep doing it till I need glasses?'", he finished, and we both laughed precisely the right amount. Then he awkwardly pat/rubbed the back of my head, and left to see how my Mom was doing, giving me a chance to reflect on how I'd ended up in this situation.

PART DEUX: A HARD RAIN'S A-GONNA FALL

About 16 hours earlier, I was carefully following the trajectory of a punted soccer ball headed back to earth. It was my turn. The rest of my teammates on the Freshman soccer team of the Catholic high school I attended (and nearly graduated from) were watching me and laughing. We were in our uniforms, because we were scheduled to have a game that day, but our opponents hadn't shown up. Our completely overwhelmed first-time coach had had a hell of a time cobbling together a schedule for us, since not a lot of schools had Freshman soccer teams. The result was a lot of strange and sometimes unreliable teams on the schedule, and a lot of wasted time.

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So, being a normal bunch of 14-15 year olds, we started acting like assholes. On this particular day, we were practicing Hungarian Ass Traps. Our goalie was enormous, and was terrific at booming punts straight up in the air like they were shot out of a fucking cannon. A Hungarian Ass Trap was the act of waiting for the punt to hit the ground, then quickly positioning your ass cheeks over the now rapidly re-ascending ball and trapping it with your buttocks. Fun! I have no idea what Hungary has to do with anything. I'm sure they're fine people.

So, our coach was staring towards the parking lot, hoping to see our opponents' school bus pull in, his optimism draining away like warm Jell-o (thanks HST!), and we were running around the field backwards with our asses sticking out, laughing like a bunch of dumb dicks. And like I said, it was my turn. So, here comes this fucking soccer ball, and I'm under it. I'd never tried this, but I was confident. The ball hit the ground, so I swung my ass over what I thought would be it's path back to outer fucking space, and waited for impact. Would this be a good time to mention that I wasn't wearing a cup?

Well, I wasn't. And I got drilled right in the yam bag, barked out some fuckawful sound like, "Guh-HILT!!!", went through the standard Hit-In-The-Balls agony, and thought that'd be that. Soon after, our coach gave up, had us scrimmage against each other for awhile, and sent us to the locker room. My balls were still pretty achy, but I figured it was just because they'd taken such a mighty shot. I'd played in the scrimmage, but the pain had been pretty persistent. It was like playing on a wet field with a pulled groin. Lots of favoring one side, ginger stepping, and very circuitous routes to the ball. I boarded the Late Bus, and it rumbled off into the chilly mid-October twilight.

PART THREE: HEY! I THINK MY BALLS ARE GONNA EXPLODE!

There were three wonderful features of my high school Late Bus:

1) They sat in the parking lot idling forever, with the heat on full blast and the doors and windows sealed shut, so when they let us on, it'd be like stepping into a preheated oven.

2) There were enough empty seats on mine that everyone got a seat for their bags and a seat of their own to stretch out in.

3) For a variety of reasons, I was never in much of a hurry to get home in those days. This was a Catholic high school, which meant the student body came from all over Long Island. My morning bus covered a pretty concentrated area, then had a 40 minute drive to get to the school. The Late Bus, in contrast, had fewer kids, but combined several routes. So, if your stop was on the end of the route, you could be on the bus for a hell of a long time, which, on most days, was fine by me.

It was on the bus that I began to realize I might be nursing a serious injury. The warmth on the bus had loosened all the muscles in my body, perfectly isolating my right testicle as the clear source of what was rapidly becoming an unbearable ache. The slightest touch produced a startlingly sharp pain, but to this point I didn't percieve any swelling, and I diagnosed myself with a bruised ball. Embarrassing, but not fatal. The short walk down the street from my bus stop to my house was pure agony.

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It was Friday night, and everyone else in my family was going out. My older brother was "going to the movies" with the rest of the Cross-Country team. My kid brother was already up the street having a sleepover at his best friend's house. And my parents were going out to dinner with the neighbors. So as they all got ready to go, I settled onto the couch as the familiar smell of Shalamar, vodka gimlets and Marlboro Lights filled the house. Soon, they were all banging out the door with a flurry of phone numbers and return times which I immediately disregarded, and I settled down to a pizza from Pelligrini's and 2-liter.

Now, at this point, I had made myself as comfortable as humanly possible, and I'd taken Advil, which I hoped would take the edge off the pain. It did not. The testicle was so sensitive at this point, that just shifting on the couch produced 5 minutes of teeth-clenching, moaning pain, so I continued to sit, motionless, watching TV until the pain became so overwhelming, I had to reach down and see what the hell was going on. To my absolute fucking horror, my right nut had grown to the size and shape of an overripe grapefruit slice, and was now hot to the touch. Now I was terrified.

I shut off the TV, shuffled into my bedroom, and climbed miserably into bed. I took some more Advil, spread my legs and propped my nuts up on a throw pillow. I found that if I laid perfectly still, and took very shallow breaths, I could relax a little and wait for my parents to get home. I never thought I'd be able to fall asleep. I did.

PART THE LAST: THE BURSTENING?!?!

It was always my Mother's job to drag our asses out of bed; a miserable job she always hated. I don't even recall what I had scheduled that day, since I couldn't play club soccer during the school season, but there she was, badgering me to GET!! UP!! As soon as my eyes popped open, the agony returned in full force. I told her I was sick and couldn't. Fear and embarrassment kept me from telling her why. But she kept prying till I had no other recourse than to blurt out, "GET DAD!! I NEED DAD!!"

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The rest of the story is terribly anti-climactic, I'm afraid. The doctor was a fucking pro, and immediately knew what was wrong. (I had a dermatologist who was more squeamish, and all he had to do was squeeze some lousy blackheads out of my ears. Puberty sucked.) I told him what happened, and he explained that when the ball hit me, my testicle flipped all the way over, like a fat guy falling off a hammock, thus pinching off the whatever-tubes, which caused the swelling. Anyway, he flipped it back over, which was excruciating, but I could immediately feel relief. By the end of the day, everything looked normal again, but the soreness lingered for a few more days. I took off a couple of practices, but made it back for a mid-week game.

I probably could've kept the story to myself, and no one would've ever been the wiser. I don't even think they told my brother, and I know I certainly didn't. Asshole. But not long after this happened, I started drinking and getting high with the guys on the team, and when you have that caliber story about balls, you tell that fucking story.

Anyway, that's my Traumatic Sports Fail. I'm sorry it's late. I know you'll have to penalize me a letter grade. Thank you.

[peers out at empty ballroom]

[puts mic back in stand]

[switches off power]

[goes back to sweeping up after Raysism's farewell party]