Man & Boy: Giles Coren On 'The Foreskin Dilemma'

The Esquire columnist on making an important early life decision for his son

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My quest to create a better man than I am began with the selection of his mother. Initially, of course, it was my wife's perfect tits and loose morals that attracted me (qualities which, if they are passed on to my daughter, will create a whole heap of parenting issues of their own) but then, when I met her very tall father and sisters, I thought, "Hang on, this one could be a keeper".

Because the Corens stalled at 5ft 9ins some 500 years ago and ever since then have been a relatively small family. I did not enjoy being short at school and knew that the first gift I gave my son would have to be height. That way, if he was into sport but was a total malco, he could still play first-team rugby or get a gold medal for rowing. Also girls would talk to him in nightclubs without him having to be rich or interesting. Then I wanted him to be old for his year at school, so that as well as being bigger than the others, he might be more intellectually advanced. I was neither, and the 47 years I have spent trying to compensate for that have been exhausting. So we aimed for a spring conception and a winter birth.

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But my wife, lovely tits notwithstanding, went and miscarried him the first time. In the dentist's chair of all places — poor guy must have thought he'd drilled right through her. (I apologise for "miscarried", by the way. It is a brutal, macho metaphor that suggests the fumbling of a straightforward pass by an inept receiver, when, in truth, foetal "stickiness" is now thought to be a genetic capability imparted from the male side.)

That was in June 2012 and my wife was then inclined to shut up shop for the summer because after a miscarriage you are meant to avoid conceiving for three months and by then we'd be into the autumn and the possible horrors of a summer baby, which she didn't want any more than I did. But then on the night of 4 August, home late in a terrific mood from covering a historic day at the London Olympics, when Britain had won gold in the heptathlon, the 10,000m and the long jump, I hopped her bones like Greg Rutherford, hammered away relentlessly in the manner of Mo Farah and got one off (prematurely, before I'd got round to whacking a condom on) that stuck like Jessica Ennis's javelin.

We considered termination on the grounds of school year irritations but decided he had just scraped in and so nine months later, on 6 May 2013, my boy was born. Big, blond, silent, uncomplicated. Just like a man should be. He was perfect in every way. Except one.

"Yeurgh! What the fuck is that?" I said as the nurse handed him to me.

"That's his foreskin," said my wife Esther, from the bed.

"Oh yeah," I said. "Of course. Sorry. It's just that I've never seen one up so close before. It really is disgusting, isn't it? It'll have to go."

As the obstetrician and nurses blenched and tutted, Esther replied, very tactfully for one who had just shat a grenade, "There are different schools of thought on that but you know what I think: your son, your call."

So it had to come off. I couldn't look him or my ancestors in the eye — or anywhere else — if it didn't.

This — apart from the tits — was why I married her. Previous girlfriends, all of them gentiles like my wife, had made a massive fuss when the subject of circumcision came up. They spoke of genital mutilation, unnecessary infant pain and barbaric blood rituals. And so each time I would patiently explain: "Darling, for 5,000 years, since the covenant God first made with Abraham, male Corens have circumcised their sons. I may have drifted from the Judaic life but I will not be the one to break a chain that goes back 200 generations. Now put your keys on the hall table and go."

"But your lack of a foreskin made you unhappy!" they would protest. "You were teased at school! You were too shy to undress in front of a girl until you were practically 30! You said yourself it makes wanking trickier because you have to use so much spit to get a slide on! You've never even been inside a synagogue!"

And it's all true. But your tribe is your tribe. The Eighties boarding school anti-Semites may have got to me but that shouldn't give them a victory over my unborn son. Indeed, should he pass 6ft 6ins and 16 stone (as he rather promises to do), I'd quite like him to go and seek the motherfuckers out and butt-rape them to death with his giant, circumcised Jewish schlong.

No, I'm not Jewish by practice. But if my son chooses to be in later life, then he'll need the right cock to gain entry. (Although who has ever chosen to be a Jew?) And there's the thing about being protected from certain STDs and cancers, which some use as an argument for circumcision. But frankly, if I cut off his arms and legs that would stop him getting killed in a rock climbing accident, so it's not much of an argument.

There was also the big problem of me not knowing how you're meant to look after a rank, flappy, old sock on the end of your dick. Doesn't it get all cheesy? I wouldn't want to be showing him internet pages of a load of old Christians piously scrubbing their bellends with Imperial Leather and have no answer to the question: "Why is mine all squinty and gross like an anteater when yours is all sleek and beautiful like a python, Dad?"

So it had to come off. I couldn't look him or my ancestors in the eye — or anywhere else — if it didn't. I only bottled it to the extent of not getting in a mohel — the ancient cutters who travel with their switchblade and a single skill and do it on the dining room table while you hold the boy down yourself — choosing instead to have it done by a fully qualified Indian (female!) doctor in a posh baby hospital.

It sounded terribly modern at the time but the woman made an awful hash of the day, showing up late, stacking up her clients in a waiting room like kettled protestors, and demanding cash in her actual hand before completing each hurried procedure. A mohel, I felt at the time, would surely have been less commercially grubby and more respectful of the solemnity of the occasion.

But then I guess the way to get your dick treated with a bit of feeling is not through a hasty cash transaction on neutral ground with a random foreign bird. It's a lesson Sam was always going to have to learn some time.