All-Blacks

I’m at the bar, drinking a diet coke. (It’s early and I’m painfully hungover from the night before). My friend comes to join me. She is telling me about one of the greatest All Blacks ever, whose name I instantly forget. ‘He played a full game with only one testicle!’ She informs me proudly. ‘Where did the other one go?’ I asked. (I am consistently infuriating to tell stories to. I always focus on exactly the wrong thing. My friend once told me a heart-rending story about her break-up and I interrupted 3 times to ask; 1, what bus she took to meet him and if she thought the number 10 was becoming less reliable,  2, if she thought it would ever be possible to re-create the perfect roundness of an uneaten babybel using just the empty wax cover, and 3, if it had been raining when they broke up. To be fair, I think her exasperation with question number 3 was unwarranted. I simply wanted to make an allusion to the kiss in the rain in ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’, and posit that their break-up was the perfect rainy counterpoint to that particular scene. Apparently it was raining, but they were sitting inside. My friend had previously told me this, she reminded me crossly, because I had asked if the butter was in little packs you open yourself or just on a side plate). ‘What do you mean, where did it go?’ My friend asked me, bewildered. ‘Well,’ I explained slowly (one has to be kind to these Antipodeans. They’ve had very few of the advantages we have. Like central heating. Or the ability to correctly pronounce words). ‘You said he played on with only one testicle. But I want to know what happened to the other one. Did it go up inside him?’ My friend looks at me oddly. I explain briefly. ‘One Summer I was playing in a tennis match, and it was the finals, and I drove my forehand straight into the other boy’s testicles, and they went up inside him and he had to go to hospital. Which I was obviously sorry about, and although I was laughing and pointing externally, internally I was very apologetic.’ My friend’s boyfriend raises his head and looks at me despairingly. My friend seems grateful for my interesting adjunct to her story, and continues. (Sometimes Antipodeans express interest in ways that to a less perceptive person could seem dismissive. It is important to remember that they come from a very small island).  ‘No, it didn’t go up into him. It twisted, and died.’ ‘It died?’ I ask, aghast. ‘Testicles can die?’ Internally, I begin to reassess my ‘hierarchy of importance in the human body’. Previously, testicles came fairly low down. Obviously they have excellent reproductive uses, but compared to let’s say, the lungs, seem fairly dispensable. ‘Yup. It’s a surgical emergency. If it’s not operated on, a testicle can only live for 6 hours.’ ‘The shelf-life of an injured testicle is 6 hours?’ I ask, helpfully. (Please see my earlier comments on appropriate attitudes towards Antipodeans). ‘Yup.’ ‘But hang on,’ I interject. ‘This guy’s an All Black. A game is only 80 minutes, and at that level, will be played in a city stadium. So reasonably, the operating room will only be 45mins away. And he’s an All Black! Whoever else is on the operating table will be shoved off!’ My friend says nothing. ‘Also,’ I ask politely, ‘Was it raining?’ 

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