Biff America column: An uncomfortable groin tingle while riding in the desert
It was two hours into a four-hour bicycle ride when my groin began to tingle. The sensation was disconcerting but not altogether unpleasant. My first inclination was to check my bike shorts, thinking a biting bug had somehow found a home and was enjoying a meal. Finding no creature, I stopped several times, checking the height of my seat, the padding of my shorts and the lay of the anatomical land. I could find no probable cause for my sensation but every time I got back on my bike, the tickle returned.
My bride, Ellen, and I were joined that day in the Utah desert by four friends. Though my mate has never been known for her nursing skills, I had nowhere else to turn. I waited to get her away from the group, when I told her the news. “Hey, Ellie, my groin is tingling.”
Her response revealed her misunderstanding of my condition. “There is nothing I can do about that now, maybe when we get back to the RV.”
When I pointed out that my condition was more medical than romantic, she gave me her full attention.
“A tingling groin is nothing to fool with,” she said. “Check your seat. Is it too high? Tilted back? Is there a wrinkle in your shorts? Are you day dreaming about the first lady doing push-ups?” She asked those questions in rapid succession; I answered no to all. (I saw no need to come clean on Michelle.)
I then noticed the power lines.
High-voltage lines ran parallel to the road for several miles, at times hanging directly overhead. I came to the conclusion that I was somehow picking up a slight jolt of electricity through the steel on my bicycle, which was transmitting it to my seat and thus charging my butt. What I didn’t understand was why I didn’t feel anything through my hands or feet. I can only assume my bottom is AC/DC and the rest of me isn’t.
I was curious if any of my riding mates were likewise copping a power-line buzz. We charged ahead and caught the group, and I asked if anyone felt a groin tingle. All pleaded innocent, though Philip admitted he could be talked into it.
I then explained my sensation and theory for it. I was surprised by the resistance I was met with by my otherwise open-minded friends. Since they couldn’t feel it, they didn’t believe it. All were willing to consider the obvious: bug, bike seat or FLOTUS fantasy, but the thought of me receiving electrical currents through my seat, while they felt nothing, was unfathomable. I had no explanation as to why my groin was more receptive than theirs, and I did not try to convert them, but I will only say that the symptoms ceased when the power lines disappeared.
A tingling crotch, and the possible reasons for it, can be a metaphor for many of life’s unanswered queries. In every life there will be more questions than answers, sometimes you have to eliminate all that which is least plausible and go with what’s left. That said, often we get it terribly wrong.
Humankind is famous for searching for the causes and origins of the things we don’t understand. Early man took thunder to be the grumbling of angry gods. The church has been historically quick to deem behavior it does not approve of as “Devil’s work.” It wasn’t too long ago that our leaders dismissed the dangers of smoking, yet suggested that allowing teenagers to listen to rock ‘n’ roll music would lead to promiscuity. (Seems my high school girlfriend never got the memo.)
Pick an issue and you can get countless theories, some plausible, some ludicrous. Often, widely held wives’ tales of the previous generation are disproved with the passing of time. Usually the correct conclusion is only determined over time by a process of elimination.
The road was wide and traffic light for the rest of the ride, thus making conversation easy. I had given up trying to convince my partners of the validity of my electric bottom; but they couldn’t seem to let it go. Phil asked if, when we got back to camp, he could plug his iPad into my fly, and Ellie wondered where my fuse box might be located.
I mostly suffered in silence, but I did offer my observation that I was comfortable with their scorn because I was in good company. The skeptics mocked Galileo, Pasteur and Plato. My group countered that my butt could not hold a candle to those great minds. I didn’t try to convince them; they would have only further mocked me. Convictions are sometimes like a tingling body part: You should be selective about whom you share them with.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on TV-8-Summit and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.