At the mere mention of the title of Anne Louis and Joyce Bandler's new book, Predicting the Penis, Jamie, a raspy-voiced, brunet bartender, explodes: "They're lesbians trapped in a heterosexual mind frame, and they have no fucking idea what they're talking about.... How the hell do they know? Some guys have a dick that's, like, an inch long, and when they get hard, it's, like, seven inches long. And some guys have got one that's seven inches long, and it's not worth shit 'cause it doesn't get hard. What book is this? I want to read this."
I pull out the small pink and green tome. On the cover, a seductress lounges in a chair. I hand it to Jamie, who serves drinks at Kim's Alley Bar (1920 E. Sunrise Blvd, Fort Lauderdale). She flips open the cover and reads Louis's inscription: "The true measure of a man is the ability to love and laugh."
"I believe that," Jamie says.
But what do love and laughter have to do with the size of a dude's wang?
Perhaps it would be better to examine what the authors claim does not produce love and laughter: mismatched equipage. Take, for example, Louis' experience with "Don," whose penis she compares to her lower calf: "When he dropped his pants, I dropped my mouth. There was NO way that thing was going to fit... Yet, the trooper that I am, I tried and, oh, it was not pleasant!"
Years after that encounter, at a business meeting, Louis, a sprightly, 51-year-old, tousled blond who used to recruit actuaries, recalls that she was sitting across the conference table from Don. She noticed a correlation between his extremities and the gargantuan dong of her memory. Her mind went to work, piecing together an algorithm that was to save her and now, with her self-published book, other women from waddling home from unpleasant interludes with three-legged men. The formula appears with a trademark symbol in the book, so I can't divulge the specifics, but suffice it to say that when you combine height, neck, leg, and other lengths and widths in a certain way, you can come up with an approximate number.
"I applied [the algorithm] everywhere I went," West Broward resident Louis said recently at Café Europa (726 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale). "I used it in my head and never really told anyone about it."
The idea of publishing a book came about a year and a half ago, when Louis was walking her dogs and boy-talking with her neighbor, Bandler, who had already penned a self-help book called Hooked on Feeling Bad.
Louis says: "I told her about this man who was interested in me but I wasn't really all that excited. And then I decided that his penis would be too small, and I didn't want to bother."
Bandler, the blond, blue-gray-eyed, 42-year-old coauthor, cuts in: "I said, 'How did you know that?' She said, 'The formula,' and she started explaining it and putting all the pieces together. And my mouth is wide open, and I'm just taking all this in. We started applying this to all the guys I knew. And I knew: There's a book there."
It wasn't long before the two single mothers started writing the book via a series of e-mails passed back and forth for five months. For them, Predicting the Penis doubles as a sort of metaphysical self-help guide. "Do you know that humans are the only creatures that have the ability to express humor?" asks Louis, as her deep, brown eyes fall upon me.
I shrug and try to analyze the psyche of the dogs I've come across.
"Not to say that other animals don't express joy, but not humor and irony. If you know anything about energy and vibrations, laughter is the closest vibration to joy that there is."
What with all the vibrations and joy in the air, I had to ask.
"My passion is A Course in Miracles," Bandler explains. "[It] is a spiritual self-psychology program that teaches one how to relinquish thoughts of fear and embrace love."
This is sounding eerily like the life-line health lesson on binary reality in Donnie Darko that leads the high school boy to tell his teacher to "forcibly insert the lifeline exercise card into [her] anus. "
But anyway, what about the men? In the age of Samantha Jones, metrosexuality, and weekender erection pills, don't men have enough sexual anxiety?
"Some men have been intimidated by it," Louis concedes. "Our comment to any man that feels a little nervous is, you know, well, we give 'em all a thumbs-up. We like 'em all."
But Bandler gestures with her hand and insists, "The individual guy, if you say, I give you a thumbs-up, then everything is fine."
Both women burst into hysterical laughter.
Skeptical, I take their thumbs-up philosophy to the streets.
Cooling it at the bar of the white-collar pickup joint Big City Tavern (609 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale ), I'm skimming the book over a rum and coke when a not physically unattractive, middle-aged man with spikey brown hair and booze on his breath, whom I'll call Bad Boy II, approaches and begins reading over my shoulder. When I don't react, he begins jabbing my torso like I'm the fucking Pillsbury Doughgirl.
A leisure-class man by disposition and his own assertion, he is confident and playful. After I explain the book's premise, he takes to the idea of having his penis sized up with amusement.
He stands five feet nine. I assess his limbs, neck, and hands relative to his stature.
"My arms are normal," he says. "After you guess the number, we'll go into the bathroom and see whether you're wrong or right. So, what's the number? How many inches?"
Hang on to your britches, buddy. "What we're going for here," I inform him, "is more of a ballpark estimate."
A curly, blond female barkeep is looking down her nose at our conversation until I start spilling out the details of the algorithm. For a moment, she listens raptly. Then she nods as if she's heard most of it before and walks away.
After applying the formula, I say to him, "I would say you're average."
"What's average?" he asks.
According to the book, the range of the "average" penis is 4.5 to 6.4 inches.
"What's the girth?" he asks.
"For you, it seems average as well."
"You're right. You're exactly right," he says, claiming to be on the long side of average. "But it's not the meat -- it's the motion."
On a lame-joke kick, he continues: "A hooker takes a guy up to her room, and he takes his pants off. She starts laughing hysterically and says, 'Who do you think you're going to please with that little thing?' He looks at her with a straight face and says, 'Me.' And he's right. Because you know, honestly, when it comes down to the end result, most guys, all they care about is coming."
On to his friend, Boulevard Bob.
He's six feet tall, but his short, stubby fingers and long neck, two of several factors in the formula, don't agree.
"You're neck contradicts your hands," I say.
Bad Boy II pops his head over my shoulder and says, "I'd say that it's only about an inch and a half long."
Boulevard sips his cocktail coolly.
"I would say you're average length, above average girth."
He forms an L with his thumb and index finger and says, "I'm from here to..." He holds his other finger an inch above his hand, "... here."
"So, 7.5 inches?" I ask.
Matter-of-factly he says, "No, six and a half."
"God, you're cool under pressure," I say.
"That's because I have no problem with my manhood."
"So, it doesn't bother you that women might be walking around assessing your physical person?"
"No. I mean, I probably have sex a couple of hundred times a year."
"So you're a pickup artist," I suggest.
"No, I have some girls that I see on a regular basis and some new girls that I meet, and it just happens." He smiles. "I can charm my way in, though, you see."
I ask him about sexual incompatibility.
"Only to the extent that the woman might not have been with a lot of men," he says. "Sex is a wonderful thing. I think it's more technique than size. You have to know how to work it. Look, I'm an older guy."
I return to Bad Boy II to ask him whether he's ever had incompatibility.
He stares at me blankly.
I try, "Are you suddenly getting anxious that we're talking about your penis?"
"No, I'm not anxious," he says, walking toward me, a drunken smirk overtaking his face.
"Is your pulse heightening and your forehead beading with sweat?" I ask.
He answers a question with a question as he begins to crowd my personal space, causing me to walk backward with only my tape recorder for protection. "Is your forehead beading with sweat because I'm standing too close to you? Are you starting to get hot and wet? Now tell me the truth."
"Tell me the truth," he says as he continues to invade my personal space. "Are you starting to get, like, confused? Just a little bit disoriented? Like, 'I don't know what to do, where to go, what to see'?"
"No," I say, "'cause I could turn this thing off and walk away right now."
"Could you? Could you walk away?"
He's so close that I can smell the stomach-turning eau.
"What cologne do you wear, Aqua di Gio?"
"See, you even knew that. What's that all about? Why do you know that?"
He cuts me off, "Does that turn you on? Does that make you happy?"
"Why are you smiling, then?"
"Yes, you are."
"No, I'm not."
He points at the unlit cigarette dangling from my fingers in the smoke-free bar. "You could smoke that cigarette all you want, but it's not gonna help you."
"Help me from what?"
"Help you from being what you want to be, doing what you want to do, going where you want to go."
His dark-brown eyes are casting the same beguiling trance as his fucked-up line of questioning.
I begin to dictate notes into my recorder as he continues to advance, "So, in sum, um, going out and predicting men's penises and letting them know about it usually turns into...."
"I want to fuck you," he finishes. Oh my God, like, so grody to the max.
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