Unlike many of my junior friends, I, Bradley Bailey, columnist extraordinaire, am a man about town who will actually be about town this year. That’s right, kiddies, I don’t “do” semester abroad. I don’t need to eat bats and squat in a mud hut to prove that I know my anthropology. As far as I’m concerned, the only reason to go abroad (besides the obvious: duty free!) is to bear witness to the strange and strangely titillating sexual practices of foreigners. But even that’s not worth the vaccinations and harsh lighting of passport photos. Take my advice, friends, save yourself the time and cultural exposure, and just get your ass domestic.

For most Yale women, excursions to foreign countries are a necessity. You’ve already gotten on all the single straight men at Yale, and they were both during Bulldog Days. For one of my friends, Spain promised to be a country bursting with Catholic machismo and antiquated dating practices, but, alas, this was not the case. Take for instance, our most recent phone conversation:

“So, any boys yet?”

“Not exactly.”

“Whaddaya mean?”

“I just can’t tell if, well, if they’re, you know, if they’re gay or not.”

“Oh, honey, it’s simple. If they like to have sex with other men, they’re gay. If they like building stuff and futbol houliganism, they’re not.”

“Actually, Bradley, I really can’t tell.”

“What do you mean you ‘can’t tell?’ Do they dance with their arms above their waists or not?”

“It’s not that simple! I mean, I’ve been surrounded by gay men all my life, and these men are so coiffed and waxed and tanned and, well, I just don’t know! I mean, Jesus Christ! I do theatre! I know what gay is!”

You see, Spain had thrown her gaydar into a tailspin. The ones who looked kind of gay were usually straight, and the ones who looked obviously gay were on freaking fire! I mean, for the love of God, is it really worth the cost of a first-class ticket (and if you turn right getting on that plane, you might as well turn right around) to try and find love, or even dirty sex? Well, after extensive research, I have determined that there is only one reason, and one reason alone, for you to even consider leaving this lovely New Haven weather behind.

This is, of course, the uncircumcised penis. Yes, that’s right, I said it and I meant it. The woody-with-a-hoody made the top of the list. It seems that something like 70 percent of American males have had their foreskins removed — maliciously stolen like so many car stereos in South Central Los Angeles. And let’s be honest, people, these wild foreskins are all certain regions of the world have going for them right now.

In my opinion, an intact foreskin can make up for any lack of infrastructure you may encounter in your travels. I was worried, though, that this was an opinion unique to me, so I asked a couple of friends in what we hardcore journalists call a “Gallup Poll” or “sourcing.” These are some of the responses I got:

“Wait. Foreskins? They still have those?”

“That’s freaking awesome! My parents made me go with them to see the Parthenon, but I’d have way preferred to see one of those, maybe not touch it, but definitely see it–“

“Once you get past the the creepy anteater thing, I bet it’s okay.”

“Oh! I once dated someone who has one. It’s a lot less work than a regular ol’ penis. It was kinda weird-looking, but man, I miss that. Handjobs were so easy!”

This last response was the one that confused me the most. If it’s true that you lose hundreds of nerve endings in that little flap of skin, why would anyone actually want to be circumcised? I needed answers and no one at the Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life was returning my calls. I frantically telephoned and instant messaged all of my friends. I was desperate. I didn’t know anyone who still held onto his foreskin, or if I did, no one was talking. This foreskin was like a Yeti. Did it actually exist, or was it merely the hackneyed fantasy of a Sherpa guide, dizzy from high altitude? Finally, one of my friends cracked. He confessed to shooting his gaze a little too low in the showers at a YMCA in Mexico City. I don’t know about you, but I had always assumed that checking out other guys’ blood sausages in Latin America would get you shot. I stand corrected. He said that they were all uncut.

While we’re on the subject of showers and all things clean, I feel that I should touch (ooh! feel! touch!) on the one drawback of holding onto that foreskin: hygiene. It was once the case that the buildup of smegma (the dirt and — uh, other stuff, that can stick to a penis) could lead to foul odors, disease and even cancer of the penis. Thanks to the advent of soap, this is no longer the case. From what my friend — the only girl I know to have touched one — said, it wasn’t dirty at all, which I suppose makes sense. It’s kind of like wearing a little turtleneck all the time. Maybe it keeps you warm, you just have to clean the lint out. So I guess in that sense it’s like a Maytag. And let’s be honest here — whose penis doesn’t require a little maintenance?

After hearing this, who wouldn’t go to the four corners of the earth in search of such an archaic masterpiece of surgical negligence? Or, better yet, what guy wouldn’t want one for himself? Well, gentlemen and, indirectly, ladies, here’s the good news — help is available. There is a movement sweeping the United States to abolish the practice of male circumcision. There is a chance that your offspring may not fall victim to the surgeon’s (or rabbis as the case may be) scalpel.

But if you got cut, there is still hope. You need not venture all the way to Dakar or Taipei to get your hands on (grr!) one of your very own. You can have surgery to have it restored, although I bet this does very little in the way of bringing back the lost sensitivity. From what I can tell, it only disfigures your winky for the sake of appearances. I personally don’t want a wang that puts on airs. I caught mine once doing really uppity French pronunciations of all the wines at College Liquors! How uncouth he was, mon petit bourgeois gentilhomme!

So, if an elephant man penis isn’t for you, you can always check into a nylon sock. Yes, that’s right. It is possible to restore some of nature’s original and horrifically ugly gift to your foreskin-less love wand, but it’ll take time. Lots of time, and it won’t be easy either. You can wear a tight nylon sock over your penis every day, to decrease the friction between it and your undies, or you can buy one of many complex systems that include tiny pulleys, lead weights and duct tape to apply slow, constant pulling — and what appears to be intense, constant pain — to what’s left of your foreskin to stretch it back out. Think of it as a medieval face lift, in reverse, for your bits. Actually, don’t think of it at all! You won’t be able to sleep at night! Believe me!

Yes, that’s right, your options are surgery, penis pilates, or third-row seats on the Concorde. It looks like travel’s the best option, unless of course you were lucky enough never to have had yours severed, in which case, congratulations or mazel tov — actually, probably not. You should be proud! If you got it, flaunt it! Hit that runway, honey! Foreskins are in!

I should, however, mention that not everyone is happy about the retention of their foreskins. My best friend’s cousin didn’t realize that he still had his until he was 12 years old. To me, this would have seemed like Christmas morning, only way, way better. But to him, it was positively terrifying, the worst experience of his life. He exclaimed over Thanksgiving (yes, Thanks-freaking-giving) dinner that he found uncircumcised penises “ugly.” Then a dead silence fell over the table. His mother looked up from her plate of turkey and glared at his father.

“You haven’t told him!?”

“You were supposed to tell him, Susan!”

He slammed his fists down into his ca
ndied yams and ran back into his room. His penis, which he had believed to be a thing of beauty, was in an instant rendered hideous, ugly and wrinkled. Essentially, he looked down and saw Joan Rivers in his pants. Happy Thanksgiving.

On the bright side, though, he did save himself the airfare, and the disappointment that is Slovenian cuisine. When you step off that plane and they stamp your passport, you might not get what you’re expecting. Semester at Sea (“you make me wanna be a better Pua” and oh my God, Veronica was such a klepto!) probably isn’t the 24-hour-a-day Caligulan orgy with open bar that MTV wants you to think it is, but then again, I signed on to this whole Yale thing because I thought it was a non-stop ‘tang party nine months out of the year. Go figure.

Bradley Bailey loves covered wagons. Go west, young man, go west!