A few Fridays back, the workweek passed the baton to its old friend the weekend in typical fashion: A long day at the office culminated in an hour-long decompression period of sedulous drinking with co-workers at a local bar, followed by a yellow cab depositing me in the general vicinity of my East Village apartment, which led to further decompressing during a five- or six-block stroll—allowing, naturally, for the outside chance of a nightcap at a neighborhood dive.
The cabbie let me out onto a wet, clammy, nasty midnight juncture of 12th Street and Fourth Avenue. A mizzling rain had moistened and accentuated—ominously, perhaps—the grime of the city. The trouble with depressing weather is that you can’t rightly blame anyone.
And, as it turns out, the trouble with taking the morning-after pill as a man—this writer learned it firsthand that very night—is that ultimately, you only have yourself to blame.
Let me explain.
I was walking along 10th Street, nimbly dodging dark, viscous puddles and crusty, intrepid outdoorsmen in sleeping bags, when—wham!—I ran smack into Chelsea, an old friend from college, and her fiancé, a couple I knew and was happy to see. I was gladly swept up into their scene—friends were in town, it was cause for celebration. Chelsea invited me back to their place, where a party was getting started.
The soirée was a good old time, aside from the lack of many single women, which led to my tucking heavily into the Stolichnaya. The liquids enhanced the jokes and political commentary but, it would seem, had a corrosive effect on my good judgment. Fair trade, right? Not when Plan B lurks in sleeping-pill vials, I say!
It was as things were winding down that I realized I was without my apartment keys. I had failed to pick them up from my neighborhood friend Teddy, whom I’d lent them to, and now the hour was too late. Chelsea generously invited me to join the sleepover that was to take place in her living room. I thanked her and headed for the bathroom.
It was there, in the peacefulness of the john, that I encountered the vial. “Ambien,” it read, which to my mind spelled “ingenious cure-all to even the worst of uncomfortable sleepover situations.” I popped out and righteously informed Chelsea of my pillaging her drug cabinet.
“Chelsea, hope you don’t mind, but I just took an Ambien,” I said, with no hint of shame or embarrassment.
Her face went white. “You took what?”
“One of your Ambiens,” I said, still trying to fend off the shame or embarrassment.
“No, dude, those weren’t Ambiens,” came the response. “That was Plan B.”
I had heard the term “Plan B,” and had a vague inkling what women used it for. “Christ! What should I do? That can’t be good.”
“It feels pretty shitty the next day,” Chelsea said. “You should try to throw up.”
Ah, throw up, I thought. No problem. Chicks make themselves puke all the time.
As it happens, throwing up is not easy. I spent the next 20 minutes perched over the porcelain, convulsing, making throw-up-like noises and jabbing my fingers in and around the back of the throat. No luck. I dashed out to the kitchen and grabbed a Chinese soupspoon—“spoon” being the operative word. A spoon will do the trick, I thought. I stuck that puppy as far down as it would go, which wasn’t far—probably because it was a Chinese soupspoon. The lesson here is twofold: Making yourself vomit is not as easy as it sounds, and Chinese soupspoons are not particularly helpful to the cause.
Needless to say, the sleepover posse in the living room were laughing like a band of wild hyenas as I serenaded the toilet bowl.
The next day, I met up with my friend Teddy to get my keys back. He noted that I had little red dots all around my eye sockets. We went back to my apartment and, while he scoured the World Wide Web for any kind of mention of the effects of Plan B in men, I studied the curious red dots around my eyes. It turned out there was not a shred of literature on men taking Plan B.
I decided to called a physician I know, a “family friend.”
“Well, Spencer,” he asserted, “looks like you won’t be having that baby after all. Bwahahahaha!”
The jerk went on to say that the pill probably wouldn’t do much aside from giving me a stomachache. Like I’m going to trust a swine like that.
Teddy suggested we call poison control. Mark, an operator at the ever-handy Poison Center hotline (800-222-1222) confirmed that a stomachache was indeed the worst I had to fear. “Kids get into those type of pills all the time,” Mark replied. Had to rub it in, didn’t you, Mark?
Well. The medical community might be interested to know that a stomachache was not the only side effect. For one thing, my urine was a reddish orange and steamy as all get-out. It was like having a flamethrower between my legs, which is actually not that cool. We’ll avoid too much detail on this one, but my stool was also a strange color—also reddish, but more of a reddish pink! And then there were those red dots around my eyes.
But the worst side effect was the spectacle of a society apparently so starved for a good laugh that it can’t resist kicking an injured horse suffering from Plan B.
The story went around the table at a dinner party the following evening. All of a sudden, my friend’s girlfriend—a fairly polite, normal girl to previous knowledge—lurched across the table and began squeezing my nipples.
“Oh, just checking,” she giggled. “Wanted to make sure you hadn’t grown breasts.”
My old friend Kaustuv, with whom I went to graduate school and who now lives in the Bay Area, had to get his licks in, too. He deadpanned in his soft Indian drawl over the phone: “Spencer, have you checked the area between your ass and your balls lately?”
“No, Koo, I haven’t,” I replied. (I call him Koo for short.)
“Well, you might want to check to see if a new orifice has opened up.” Then Koo let out the wild cackling sound that is his laugh.
Chelsea was one of the few who didn’t find it a laughing matter. She called a few days later to make sure I was all right. She told me that her doctor had given her three prescriptions for Plan B, and that she’d filled them all at once just because it seemed easier than having to return to the pharmacy another time. Then she’d put them in a random bottle. She said she’d only taken Plan B once so far, but that as a general policy she’d prefer to be safe and take a Plan B than to have an abortion. She added that she thought it was “pretty dumb” of me to take a pill without knowing what it was. I think she was being too kind. Gobbling that Plan B was extremely dumb.
But there’s an upside to this saga: When I swallowed that Plan B, I plunged myself into the world of womankind. Under typical circumstances, it’s the man’s job to sit by the woman and comfort her—perhaps keeping one eye on the football game—while she suffers through the stomachaches, steamy pees and all the rest. Well, now I know what they go through, and I’d like to think I’m a better, more sensitive man for it. I never thought I’d hear myself say this—for this reason, anyway—but thank you, Plan B.