Although his wife, Aimee, is against it, Brian Baxter Smith is set on castration. "I've come to think of testosterone as a toxin," he explains.
Pacing slowly over the ceramic tiles of his living-room floor, Brian Baxter Smith grips a microphone in one hand and his balls in the other. Eyes closed, portable karaoke machine cranked to 10, he latches on to the singsong beat of Jay-Z's "Hard Knock Life" and begins to flow.
"I ain't perfect," Smith spits in a syrupy Louisiana drawl. "But I will be one day."
In two weeks—on his 26th birthday, to be exact—that mass of tissue and sinew gripped in his left hand will be gone. And Smith will finally be free—finally closer to perfection.
Not that Smith seems particularly yoked by the constraints of a raging hard-on. Like most 26-year-old college students, he is a study in easygoing econo-living. He delivers pizzas for dough, smokes copious amounts of pot, writes, raps, and considers himself a bit of an amateur philosopher. There's Dostoevsky in the bathroom, Anne Rice in the living room, brass Buddhas on the television, Bibles lining the shelves.
But beneath the numbing haze of pot smoke and deep thoughts, Smith is a man whose temper and libido have a tendency to take over. There was that time he jumped into the bed of a moving pickup, one hand holding on to the cab, the other punching at the driver's-side window. The driver was his father. And then there's the sex: The hours that evaporate while he cruises for Internet porn, the five or six times he masturbates each day, the barely harnessed urge to "fuck anything that moves." When he had his testosterone levels tested a few years ago, they were higher than normal, just as he'd known they would be. And so he will drive four hours on his birthday to an undisclosed location where a retired surgeon working out of his house will numb him from the waist down and slice away his testicles. It's illegal, but it's cheap. All Smith has to pay for are antibiotics and painkillers.
"I've come to think of testosterone as a toxin," he explains, picking at his wispy goatee. "Like alcohol or fatty foods. I'm seeking spiritual enlightenment as a Buddhist—sincerely seeking it." Smith even plans to become a vegetarian, quit cigarettes, and maybe—just maybe—stop smoking pot.
As Smith talks and rolls a forefinger-size joint, his wife smiles pleasantly, if not sincerely. Aimee understands his reasoning. She disapproves of his wrist-spraining porn addiction and admits that his demand for sex is nearly constant.
But still. "I want kids," she says, lamenting the high cost of semen storage ($722 for the procedure, $36 monthly locker fee). "I would prefer he wouldn't do this, but it's his decision."