Posted by: robinsonwarner | July 25, 2008

The Pen 15 Club Wants You!

Isn’t it amazing how quickly people grow up?  I can recall having this conversation with many of my friends who have just graduated from college or will be doing so quite soon.  It is indeed a surreal feeling to lay witness to how quickly time moves by.  Before I knew it I was an unemployed twenty two year old with a degree from a small liberal arts college.  Okay. So what now? 


At this point in my life, as I’m sure many of my fellow graduates will agree, life is constantly in flux.  Friendships get tested, new ones are founded in the faraway reaches of the United States, and some relationships might end.  Despite the paradox that change is the only constant in this life, I have recently discovered there are some things that never change.

And, no, I’m not going be corny and say something like “best friends”, “true love”, “family”, “the superiority of chocolate ice cream to vanilla”, or “George Bush’s inability to say the word ‘nuclear’”.  I am speaking of something a little more close to home from the days when we were still constantly learning new words. 


There are some words that will always be awkward to say or at least make us giggle a little bit, if only on the inside.  I present to you one word in particular that made us laugh and feel uncomfortable as children and still does today.


The word is “penis”.  I don’t care what anyone says.  The word penis has been ingrained in my memory as something almost as hilarious as the Three Stooges.  Do you remember saying this word growing up on the playground and rolling around in the sand and maybe eating a bug or two and then probably choking on it because you were laughing so hard.  I should certainly hope so.  Seriously, just say it out loud right now.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait…………………………… So did you say it out loud?  Well my guess is that you probably didn’t because the thought of saying the word penis out loud not only would make you laugh uncontrollably which would cause a chain reaction that would make you pee yourself, but you also were concerned about someone hearing you.  As if the word is a secret code word that summons the apocalypse.  Or someone might think you’re the weirdo at your job that spontaneously spews words such as “penis” or “death to the non-believers”.

It is because of the word penis and how hilarious and awkward it is that we have various manifestations of projecting that shame and hilarity onto others.  Because heaven forbid we were associated with that word. 


The first example is the “Penis game”.  This game isn’t as homoerotic as it sounds.  It is when a couple of 10 to 25 year old males who are gathering in some sort of public place.  This is most likely a school bus or perhaps a staff meeting and they would begin by whispering the word “penis” to each other all the while high-fiving zealously.  Each consequent uttering of the word must then be louder than the previous.  It is the mere possibility that someone might hear this word that people erupt into a fit of giggles and start frothing at the mouth.  It usually ends with some bold, shameless individual screaming “penis” from the top of their lungs and everyone laughing at the massive grapefruit-sized pair of testicles on that lone, bold person.  I couldn’t make this game up if I tried.  If you’ve read my previous posts you understand that I am that childish, but most certainly not that clever.

Another manifestation of this is “The Pen 15 Club”.  This was used sometimes in mean spirits by middle school boys who might ask the unpopular kid if he wanted to be in the Pen 15 club.  The unpopular kid, excited to finally be accepted by the perceived status quo would trip over himself to get into that club especially if it had the popular kids in it.  So the initiation involved having “Pen 15” being drawn on your hand, usually with permanent marker, a moment of proud admiration, and then a horrified realization that Judas had just given you the veritable kiss on the cheek. 


For those of you who don’t know about the Pen 15 club or who were home schooled (no offense Kathleen) or who have the intellectual range of a box of slinkies, let me try to make this more explicit.   The Pen15 club, The PENIS Club!  Oh, I know, this is awkward and might be potentially humiliating for those of you who never got the joke and have “Pen 15 4 Life” tattooed on their biceps near their tribal tattoos.  But by the simple fact that this was a horrible humiliation is telling to how silly and hilarious the word really is.

So if this sort of ballyhoo took place in high school and middle school, what is the next step?  Well for those young gentlemen who have been to college and may or may not have been too drunk too early in the night and maybe that certain individual tossed their cookies before midnight and ended up passing out wit the lights on.  And maybe, all their clothes and most importantly their shoes remained on their persons.  ”. 


So what happened next?  Well I would say nine times out of ten it involved drunken boys obtaining a Sharpie and drawing a dozen penises all over the face and body of the passed out guy.  Of course it is boys who do this.  Girls don’t draw on each other; they just kill the one that passes out first.  She is deemed and weak and unfit to pass on her genetic code.  Hey, don’t blame me.  Talk to Darwin.  This is simple science.


So why is there all this focus on the word penis?  Why is it a constant source of humiliation?  Well my guess is that there are several societal pressures that cause us, to be ashamed of and laugh at the word penis.

The first is the repressed sexuality that has permeated Western Civilization for the past 2,000+ years.  We are constantly taught to be ashamed of our bodies as sexualized objects and there’s no sex before marriage and we have to say ten Hail Marys if we end up even thinking about sex or our penises when we’re supposed to be thinking about Jesus’ sacrifice for us.  Or the premium that is put on virginity by all the major religions of the world.  The penis represents 50% of the sexual act and is then terribly dangerous to sexual purity 

Sex and sexual organs are a constant obsession in Christianity.  It is terribly important to people to remain pure that the story of Jesus Christ, the potential savior of mankind, starts as morality tale about how Joseph would totally kick Mary to the curb if she wasn’t a virgin before they got married.  And also she cheated on him.  So ladies, lock it up or else guys won’t love you unless the angel Gabriel appears before him and tells the guy it’s totally cool. 

Why do you think the Virgin Mary remained a virgin when she had Jesus?  Well it is because there is this thought in Western Civilization that sex is bad.  That somehow, by having sex, and losing one’s virginity, there is something of yourself that has been taken away instead of gained.  That something is lost and this mostly affects women. 


Organized religion teaches us to be very ashamed of our bodies because, well… because for all of time we have been told that by people who claim to know the “truth” and what we’re supposed to do with it.  Listen, if God exists, which I sincerely doubt She does, why would sex be something so enjoyable, liberating and psychologically important to the human condition if it was “bad”?


Okay, that is enough of that.  The second reason that “penis” is a source of shame is because of a deep seated homophobia in the world and society at large.  If a guy has a penis drawn on his face or on his hand, well then they must like penis and they must be gay which, for the longest time has been synonymous with wrong.  Guys don’t want to be called gay by other guys because, as mentioned in “An Honest Slow Dance”, this is the worst thing that can happen:  to be out of the heterosexual social circle for any reason, especially homosexuality.


So this post might be a little disjointed for those of you who have read previous posts and I know things just got a little serious right now and some of you might be worried.  I know it seemed like I just hit mommy at the dinner table, but I had to get it out there.  I don’t even have my degree in psychology.


So to end things on a sillier note, here are some other funny words that still make us laugh and giggle and feel terribly awkward:


Poop, sex doo-doo, vagina, caca, noodles, buffalo, equestrian, boobies, military intelligence, wang, pork chops, tater tots, scribble, nuggets, cocktail, wipe, democracy, diaper, retards, meatballs, loins, panties, gerber, Jello, pudding, breasts, goo, yucky, this, post, is, finished.


  1. this is a really great post!

    it is hilarious but then it makes me think too 🙂

  2. This also made me think…made me think that I needed to be tricking friends with this back in school. Damn those missed opportunities!

  3. you were that kid who was asked to join the pen 15 club weren’t you?

    ..poor you

  4. I was absolutely the kid that was asked to join the Pen 15 club. I’m sure the post is dripping with disdain and bitterness for those clever bastards that fooled me oh so many years ago.

  5. No offense taken. Homeschooling for life! Wait, what?

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