I’m not a fan of the word used to identify the male organ, the one that rhymes with “Venus.” I’ll use the word, of course, when necessary– perhaps in a clinical sense, or when quoting somebody else. But all things being equal, I avoid it.
And I especially avoid it on TV. In the late 90s, as Bill Clinton shed his dignity with an intern, legions of newscasters followed suit by uttering that particular word ad nauseum while reporting the lurid details. I don’t want to hear that word on the news. I sure as hell don’t want to say it.
When I’d caught wind of a small but interesting story about the bad behavior of members of the moneyed class at Atlanta’s Piedmont Driving Club golf course, the details put me in a bit of a box. The letter outlining the bad behavior was wry yet explicit. One of the more amusing passages involved the word best not uttered by news folk:
“…one of the drunken golfers passed out in the men’s grill, and another member opened his pants, pulled out his penis, and slapped the passed out member’s head with his penis.”
A second passage, perhaps even more amusing, was this one:
“One member decided to show off to other members and a caddie his ability to pick up a golf ball with his naked butt cheeks.”
The story cried out for quotes from the letter. But I was averse to uttering the words “penis” or “butt cheeks” in my marginally basso profundo newscaster voice. So I set out to find some golfers, and asked them to read the letter on camera for me.
This quest took me to Candler Park, a more accessible and better-behaved course than the Piedmont Driving Club course.
Thankfully, I found some golfers willing to play along. They were equally obliging when I questioned them about their inclinations, or lack thereof, toward golf course undress. I also questioned them about their technique for picking up golf balls. The questions required a dead-serious approach.
In hindsight, I don’t recall ever interviewing anybody about those particular subjects before.
By the time Mike Zakel and I put the story on TV, I’d opted to omit the “slapped the passed-out member’s head with his penis” passage. The “butt cheeks” material seemed to sufficiently convey the level of playfulness among certain members at the prestigious Piedmont Driving Club.
The result arguably had a serio-comic quality that obscured the fact that I had very little tangible editorial material in the piece. Click the image below to see the video.
Oddly enough, it was the second time in one week that I’d produced paperwork quotes for a TV interview. The first was Memorial Day, when I showed Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Georgia) passages from Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech, and asked him to re-phrase them. It made sense at the time. Woodall, a politician with a refreshing sense of humor, also played along.
At least Churchill and Woodall avoided using any words rhyming with “Venus.”