There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.
The easy option for a column like this, and honestly the approach I almost took, was to construct it entirely from John Bender's dialogue in The Breakfast Club:
Bender: Claire, you wanna see a picture of a guy with elephantitis of the nuts? It's pretty tasty. Claire: No thank you. Bender: How does he ride a bike? Oh Claire, would you ever consider dating a guy who looked like this? Claire: Can't you just leave me alone? Bender: I mean even if he had a nice personality and a cool car... although you'd probably have to ride in the back seat because his nuts would ride shotgun.
Even if we ignore the 132-lb elephantiasis in the room, questions about how this situation could progress to the point where radical surgery was required to remove a Molly Ringwald-sized mass remain. Unfortunately, anyone looking for incisive commentary on the gaps in America's healthcare system aren't best answered by the network that brings you Extreme Cougar Wives and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.
Wesley Warren Jr.'s scrotum was growing at the rate of three pounds a month. Most guys wouldn't mind a little extra mass down there -- for jeans-filling-out purposes -- but Warren had scrotal elephantiasis. In case you couldn't tell from the "elephant" root to that name, it means his ball sack eventually weighed in at 160 lbs, according to doctors.
If you're like me, your first thought was: how many testicle-related puns can I make at Warren's expense? But then your second thought should have been: how the hell did this guy let what something that began in 2008 develop into a condition requiring the use of milk crates to board a bus and an upside-down hoodie to hide his scrotum from public view?
He's lucky he wasn't shot by an inverted George Zimmerman, I guess.
Why the condition wasn't corrected earlier is somewhat unclear. Warren blames Nevada's healthcare system for its inability to offer him treatment out of state, forcing him to seek funds via Facebook and Howard Stern to help him. He was also, however, reportedly offered free surgery by Dr. Mehmet Oz (in return for exclusive rights to his story, because sure) and a doctor in Greece, which he declined over concerns about surviving the surgery and being unable to fit into an airplane bathroom, respectively.
Family assistance also wasn't an option, unless you believed his aunt's claims that Satan is responsible. The Fallen One is notoriously hard to sue, however, so Warren sought more secular medical options at UC Irvine, where the narrator helpfully reminds us Warren's life "hangs in the balance." Well played, TLC. Well played.
Dr. Joel Gelman offers to perform the surgery for free, which turns out to be a good thing considering Warren's penis and testicles are buried "a foot" within the scrotal mass. As I was watching I tried to come up with a personal ad for Warren, who confessed he despaired of ever being able to enjoy normal relations with a woman. The best I could come up with was, "SBM, 49, seeks spelunker with open mind."
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Two things struck me about the show, a rebroadcast of the British Channel 4 doc The Man With the 10-Stone Testicles (not to be confused with Bush's sophomore album). The first was how this was the shortest "hour" of programming I've ever seen. I don't even think they cracked 40 minutes of actual show, which would seem odd given the weighty (heh) subject matter. Then again: TLC.
The second was the weird difference between what networks are allowed to show in medical and non-medical scenes. Believe it or not, a hooded sweatshirt is not the most efficient scrotum-concealing device, and several instances in which Warren's testicles were exposed had to be pixelated. During his surgery however, TLC went -- you'll forgive the expression -- balls to the wall. I'm no shrinking violet, but I was still somewhat taken aback.
Anyway, the surgery was a success, and now Warren has talked about his desire to host a talk show. Because who doesn't want to to listen to someone discuss the phenomenon of "phantom balls" for hours at a time?
I'm sure The Man with the 132-lb Scrotum had decent ratings. I'm sure more people watched it than the recent Frontline episode about the troubling problems in America's loosely regulated assisted living industry. I'd provide more commentary but years spent watching and writing about reality shows for your amusement has dissolved most of my remaining gray matter.