I went to the dentist last week for the first time in over a decade. Fortunately, I have only one (1) small cavity, a fact my mother will be very proud to read, unlike the remainder of this essay.

To determine the quality of my teeth, x-rays were needed. This involved the dental technician placing a long, wand-like structure into my mouth; on the invading end, situated perpendicular to the wand’s length, sat a small rectangular square the size of a matchbox. X-ray film was affixed to this rectangle. The rest of the machine lowered overhead on a big rotational arm whose design could only have been inspired by Dr. Seuss. Located on the end of the arm was the camera, which resembled a sleek hair dryer that was aimed at the rectangular square once it had been inserted into my mouth. 

The first couple shots focused of the front of my teeth, which meant that the wand was placed only superficially into my mouth. Despite this, I was very uncomfortable. There was a lot of squirming and sighing, and the tech had to remind me multiple times to relax my tongue. I focused on breathing calmly and kind of succeeded, but all of this was happening inside a dentist’s office: I doubt that even the Buddha could truly relax in such a setting.

(A dental office may be the final test for any aspiring meditator — if you can find serenity among the soft jazz and the drills’ whirring whines, you really are ready to transcend to another plane of existence.)

After finishing with the front teeth, the tech began to x-ray my molars. He pushed the wand far into the back of my mouth. In doing so he jabbed the x-ray rectangle against the rear portion of the top of my mouth, which promptly caused me to gag. 

If you’ve ever gagged, you’ve probably noticed that your throat constricts and you chomp your teeth closed, which makes sense — this is your body’s last opportunity to reject an invasive throat-intruder, such as a rectangle of x-ray film. In addition, I simultaneously kind of coughed and spasmed while my stomach locked and my mouth filled with saliva. Somehow, probably because I was distracted by all the constricting-and-spasming, I managed not to punch the otherwise personable dental tech who was, it’s worth remembering, simply doing his job.

(This is the part where — if for any reason you’re unfamiliar with the gag reflex — you’re invited to set aside this essay and stick an object into into the back of your mouth.)

The tech removed the rectangle and encouraged me to take several deep breaths. I nodded and forced a smile, then he reinserted the wand way, way back into the rear of my mouth. Despite feeling the need to gag, somehow I managed to remain calm. I did not bite down or spit out the rectangle. Instead, I focused on my breath and slowly became very zen-like, with one tiny exception.

Rather than clearing my mind and being present in the immediacy of samsara, all I could think was — I can’t believe anyone sucks dicks.

Full confession — I’ve never sucked a dick. Not one. I’m nearly 45-years old and to date have sucked zero (0) dicks. I’ll admit this is a lame background for an essay that’s about to pivot very far away from the dentist’s office, but before we get hung up on my shortcomings I’d first like to add a quick but important note on terminology:

No one in history has ever sucked a penis, so it’s going to be a lot of dick moving forward, and while there are plenty of verbs that convey the act, sucked seems to be the most commonly used. Lastly, there are a near-infinite number of wonderful phrases out there about sucking dick, from the sophomoric to the sublime — I’ll do my best not to get carried away, but fair warning: every now and then readers may have to indulge me.

I’d like to back up and reemphasize the context: this occurred in a dentist’s office, an environment I don’t find particularly tantalizing. I’m open to the possibility that had I been located elsewhere — perhaps a warm tropical beach, with several rum drinks in my belly and some Barry White on the speakers — I might have become aroused by the foreign object crammed into the back of my throat. That said, I’ve been on several tropical beaches with plenty of booze in my belly, and never once have I thought — What would really set this evening apart is a nice dick in my mouth!

A quick but important note on dicks — they’re objectively not great-looking. I’m aware of my bias: I’m someone who’s generally not aroused by dicks. I also realize that there are many, many people out there who find this organ not simply highly stimulating but aesthetically pleasing. Still, I think we can all agree — dick is rarely someone’s best angle.

As soon as I left the dentist’s I had to know — How can someone perform this act? I went straight to the source: I phoned a gay man. My logic here was quite simple: Has dick + Sucks dick. My high-school friend John muttered a titillated Ooohhh upon hearing why I’d called.

I’d like to pause and note that if you’re a straight man who has gay friends, you know this Ooohhh. Ostensibly it expresses your gay friend’s interest in the subject, but its true meaning is conveyed with a sidelong glance that is hopefully-wondering, Is my straight friend finally willing to explore his homosexuality — with me…? 

Some people may take umbrage with that last sentence: That’s not what all gay men think! Maybe it’s not — I haven’t met all gay men, and inductive arguments have some built-in limitations. But out of the gay men I have met, I’m yet to find a single one who hasn’t at some point thought/hoped/projected that I’m just one vodka-cran away from becoming gay — or gay-enough; or at the very least least gay-enough-for-the-moment — like a caterpillar that needs a little nudge before blossoming. 

John confirmed that choking-while-sucking was definitely a hazard, but assured me that he had a patented system for working around this. One of my favorite things about John is that we have the sort of open friendship that spares no details — with this in mind, I didn’t inquire further. Still, I couldn’t make sense of the act.

“Oh, it’s fun,” John trilled. I told him that it did not sound like fun to me. He assured me that it was, then added, “But I make everything fun.” I have never before heard a human sound more like a Chucky-doll. I hung up the phone and decided to try some other sources.

Before delving into specifics, I’ll note that the general response to my inquiries involved a long, silent-but-clearly-thoughtful pause, followed by some mumbles that landed somewhere between That’s a good question and Oh, you know how it is. The thing was — I knew it was a good question, but I clearly didn’t know how it is.

One female friend explained that she found dick-sucking too intimate and consented only to having vaginal sex. Despite not possessing a vagina myself, this made total sense — any penetration of your person is intimate, but a dick in the mouth, especially when it’s your mouth, seems like TMI. That acronym should not be confused with TMJ, which is jaw discomfort associated with the temporomandibular joint of the jaw. This is what another friend cited anytime she was presented with a dick-sucking request: she would insist that her TMJ was both uncontrollable and unpredictable, the end result being that she couldn’t guarantee she wouldn’t bite down at any point during the act.

(She never clarified if this explanation was sufficient to deter the various dicks she confronted. Knowing how dicks think — if you’ll allow the use of such a verb — especially in sexually aroused situations, I’m confident that upon hearing this explanation most dicks immediately countered with: What are the odds of that really happening??)

My girlfriend learned about fellatio from an article she read in Cosmopolitan when she was an adolescent. There’s something poignantly sad when I imagine her squirreled away in her room, hiding from her parents while learning how to schlob a knob from Cosmo magazine. I’d like to think that 12-year olds shouldn’t be studying the ins and outs of dick-sucking, let alone obtaining guidance on the subject from Cosmo. At the same time, I also find something hopeful in the image: after all, that 12-year old’s gotta learn about sucking dicks at some point, and dollars-to-donuts that’s not a skill most parents are passing down.

To be very, very clear — I’m not suggesting 12-year olds should be sucking dicks. However, 12 is very much the age in life when dicks start popping up hoping to be sucked. If simply for aiding evasion, more knowledge on this subject seems best.

The most consistent response to my inquiries was something along the lines of: I suck my partner’s dick because I know it makes them feel good, and making them feel good makes me also feel good. The dumpster-fire that was 2021 notwithstanding, statements like that all but prove that there are still generous and kind humans in this world.

It’s also a relatable notion, for hopefully most of us do things simply to make our partners feel good (Christmas dinner at your sister’s? That sounds great!). At the same time, I completely fail to comprehend that response, for surely there’s a categorical difference between smiling weakly across an over-cooked turkey and giving someone a slobby toot on the old bone-trombone. The latter not only contains a high likelihood of gagging upon an objectively horrifying-looking organ, but is an act during which — and this part really can’t be emphasized enough — the sucker receives no direct physical benefits.

In a previous paragraph I suggested that sucking a dick to please your partner proves that saints still walk among us. It’s entirely possible that there’s something far more emotionally unstable going on, for one can easily imagine the willingness to suck dicks as the textbook criterion of insanity.

In short, none of my friends had what I would call a convincing answer for performing this horrific undertaking. That said, I’m not really sure what would constitute a good answer. I suck dicks because I’m a patriot who loves America! Not on my watch, ISIS! Rousing sentiments, certainly, but I’m yet to see Uncle Sam advertise a need for dick suckers.

A few thoughts on that last sentence —

1: What an amazing campaign that would be —  Swallow a scud for Uncle Sam!

1a: I’d give anything to be a fly on the wall at the recruiting office after that ad went live.

2: I generally think war is moronic, but I would totally support any conflict whose outcome could be won by whichever side could muster a better corps of dick-suckers. 

2a: If our opponents really were better at sucking dick, would it actually be a loss if they won the war?

Not surprisingly, everyone I talked with pointed out that if I was so curious about the subject, I could go out and suck a dick on my own. (Well, not on my own, but you get the idea.) While that’s true, as I mentioned above that thought absolutely fails to excite or arouse me. I’m fully aware that many — most —(who are we kidding: all!) — dicks would not be bothered one iota by my lack of excitement or arousal. While my research on this subject will only go so far, my imagination won’t be comparably limited. 

If the dick in question was a popsicle whose stick was clamped between the teeth of a cast-iron bench-vise that had been roto-hammered onto a fixed horizontal plane, such that the popsicle’s protuberance both rose vertically and was limited from rising further due to the stern grip of aforementioned bench-vise — then: maybe? In that situation sucking a dick might feel like slurping from a drinking fountain where the water’s height was controlled, thus allowing me to lower and raise my mouth around it as I saw fit. 

However, if the popsicle was released from the vise’s clasp and allowed to rise and prod manically in the manner that dicks hoping to be sucked have historically behaved, I’d be out. The same goes for situations in which the dick in question was mounted perpendicular to the vertical axis at a height comparable to my mouth — one in which we’d be looking eyes-to-eye, as it were — to say nothing about that same dick being permitted to move freely across the horizontal plane. 

Attentive readers have likely noticed that I’m yet to mention most dicks’ constant companion — the balls. Because clearly what this situation needs is a hairy sack of flesh plonking your face with all the subtlety of a deflated speed bag…

It’s also worth noting that I haven’t addressed the fatal conclusion of most dick-sucking: the old Twinkie explosion.

Honest to god: how do you dick suckers handle that bit? As if the act of sucking a dick wasn’t sufficiently demoralizing, why don’t we follow that up with a little something extra for the effort?? That has to be the worst gratuity ever. Further, once you’ve navigated disposal of that spunky gift — then what? Seriously — what’s your next move? Surely you know that your own sexual desires aren’t about to be attended to, so are you just hoping to settle in for an evening of stimulating conversation about the funerary rituals of various pea-fowl? 

No, no, no and no. All of the above must be rejected out of hand, to say nothing about out of mouth. 

We end as the act would suggest: with a whimper. Half of us ready for a nap while the remainder wish simply to wash the taste of this nonsense from their mouths. The only conclusion I can see is that anyone who sucks a dick is both a saint and totally insane. If I may be bold enough to speak on behalf of all dicks: it doesn’t matter to us which end of that spectrum you land on. Either way — Thanks, suckers.