IN WHAT SEEMS LIKE AN ACT DRIVEN BY THE DEMENTIA OF OLD AGE, I RECENTLY PAID SOMEONE TO STAB A HOLE IN MY SCROTUM AND SNIP AWAY AT MY ABILITY TO PRODUCE CHILDREN – QUITE POSSIBLY THE ONE THING I’VE PROVEN TO BE ANY GOOD AT.
Luckily for you, this is a car magazine, so I won’t go into the details about how my balls swelled up like two coconuts inside a battered black punching bag, nor how bending over felt like a tiny donkey had taken up residence in my lower stomach.
What I will say is that it struck me that having a vasectomy must be a lot like the day you have to hand your driver’s licence in, because you realise you’re too old to safely do something you’ve long loved.
Sure, you’ll still get around, and even go in cars, but it’s not going to be quite the same, is it? Mentally or physically.
The mere thought of this properly scared me, more even than the sight of my scrotum, particularly when I found myself sitting in the passenger seat of the new Rolls-Royce Cullinan next to a man who’d been in the job so long he filed his first story using a stone tablet rather than an Apple one.
After mumbling something about how he’d been to the first Rolls-Royce launch ever, which was more frightening than impressive, he proceeded to drive in a fashion that would be familiar to anyone who’s ever been stuck behind a bowling hat piloting a car.
The fact that he’d clearly lost the ability to determine right from left was the first sign of a problem and after a while I just closed my eyes and listened to the panicked yet painfully polite squawking of the Rolls-Royce minder in the back seat: “No, sir, I’m terribly sorry but I meant left, no, the other left, sir, if you don’t mind, no, that’s a one-way street ... no, NO!” My co-driver was a lovely bloke, as it turned out – looked like Omar Sharif would have, if he’d lived to be 100 – and his tales about “the wars” (I think it was the Napoleonic ones) were fascinating.
But the fact is, he probably shouldn’t be driving any more, and certainly not as enthusiastically as he seemed to think he was capable of.
This is, of course, the problem, particularly with men, because it takes a hell of a lot of convincing to get us to believe we are not good at things.
As one friend put it while explaining to me why he’d never get The Snip, men are hugely optimistic, which is why we like to keep our options open.
Right up until our mid 40s, some part of our brains still believes we might get called up to represent Australia at cricket, or that we could still win Bathurst (“Yes, Lowndesy’s done it at 44, there’s hope for me yet!”).
And personally, I just can’t imagine a moment in time in which I won’t still think I’m a better driver than most of those bloody young whipper snappers out there, by God.
I’ll have no excuse for my ignorance of course, because I’ve done the research and I know that geriatricians have found that we all start losing the ability to multi-task properly between the ages of 50 and 60.
Some ugly research also suggests that if you keep driving into your 90s you become just as accident prone, but possibly not as stupid, as a driver in their early 20s. You already know that our population is ageing, of course, but just chew on the fact that the ABS reckons the number of drivers aged over 60 could almost quadruple by 2050.
On the one hand, I just can’t imagine that I’ll ever hand my licence in, after all my grandfather never did, although he wisely drove 10km/h slower for every year he was on the Earth, up to the point where he’d just sit in the garage and not actually go to town at all.
But then I never thought I’d volunteer to do other things to reduce my sense of manliness, so anything is possible.
On a vaguely related note, I would just like to say that I give up, you win. The fact that even Rolls-Royce is making an SUV now, on the same planet on which people used to throw tomatoes at Range Rovers for being evil and unnecessary, means the battle is won. Giant dinosaurs once again bestride the planet.