- by Arthur C. Clarke

Chapter 12

To Poole's delight, Mistress McAuley's Ident conveyed the information that she was currently between lovers, and he wasted no further time in contacting her. Within twenty-four hours he was pillion-riding, with his arms enjoyably around her waist....

The next morning, shaken and mortified, he contacted Professor Anderson.

"Everything was going splendidly," he lamented, "when she suddenly became hysterical and pushed me away. I was afraid I'd hurt her somehow.

"Then she called the roomlight - we'd been in the darkness - and jumped out of bed. I guess I was just staring like a fool . . ." He laughed ruefully. "She was certainly worth staring at."

"I'm sure of it. Go on."

"After a few minutes she relaxed and said - I'll never be able to forget -

Anderson waited patiently for Poole to compose himself.

"She said: 'I'm really sorry, Frank. We could have had a good time. But I didn't know that you had been mutilated.'"

The professor looked baffled, but only for a moment.

"Oh I understand. I'm sorry too, Frank perhaps I should have warned you. In my thirty years of practice, I've only seen a half a dozen cases, all for valid medical reasons, which certainly didn't apply to you . . . Circumcision made a lot of sense in primitive times and even in your century, as a defense against some unpleasant, even fatal, diseases in backward countries with poor hygiene. But otherwise there was absolutely no excuse for it and several arguments against it, as you've just discovered.

"I checked the records after I'd examined you the first time, and found out that by mid-Twenty-first Century there had been so many malpractice suits that the American Medical Association had been forced to ban it. The arguments among contemporary doctors are very entertaining.

"I'm sure they are," said Poole morosely.

"In some countries it continued for another century: then some unknown genius coined a slogan - please excuse the vulgarity 'God designed us: Circumcision is blasphemy.' That more or less ended the practice. But if you want, it would be easy to arrange a transplant. You wouldn't be making medical history, by any means."

"I don't think it would work. Afraid I'd start laughing every time."

"That's the spirit you're already getting over it."

Somewhat to his surprise, Poole realized that Anderson's prognosis was correct. He even found himself already laughing.

"Now what, Frank?"

"Aurora's 'Society for Creative Anachronism.' I'd hoped it would improve my chances. Just my luck to have found one anachronism she doesn't appreciate."

Order "3001: The Final Odyssey"
by Arthur C. Clarke

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  "Circumcision made a lot of sense ... as a defense against some unpleasant, even fatal, diseases in backward countries with poor hygiene."
While it may have made sense at the time, that does not mean it was in fact a good reason, or that that was the reason they did it. Clarke was of course free to put mistaken statements into the mouths of his fictional characters.