I can list the handful of writers who have truly inspired me throughout my career in journalism. Steve Buckley. Rick Telander. Steve Rushin. Dick Schaap. Dave Anderson. Mike Freeman. A couple of others. None, however, have had the impact of Greg Orlando, my former co-worker at the University of Delaware student newspaper and one of the best scribes I’ve ever seen.
Greg has worked for a handful of publications, primarily dealing with video games. He conducted the funniest Jason Giambi interview of all time (Question (feeling Giambi’s uniform): Is this thing velvet?), and once wrote an essay, “The Answer Man,” that continues to blow me away. Most important, he’s a good friend, and he’s agreed to contribute to jeffpearlman.com by taking one side in our new weekly debate session. Hence, today Greg and I kick things off my contesting an issue of grave consequence: Colostomy bag … or voice box?
GREG ORLANDO: Scholarly debate over the merits of the voice box v. the colostomy bag has oftentimes deteriorated, as scholarly debates are wont to do, into fisticuffs. Full-blown fisticuffs.
Now we may take it on faith that one is better than the other but, on this day, that will not suffice. As the philosopher Kierkegaard noted, we must go beyond faith. We must, simply, believe.
The colostomy bag, as a personal statement, is unquestioned. With a colostomy bag, you are a man who carries his own shit in a bag. You are not to be trifled with. The world-at-large may present its hazards in the form of the Jonas Brothers, Americaâ€™s Got Talent (but, certainly, not taste), Somali pirates, and untalented comedian Pauly Shore with his own multi-warhead thermonuclear device, but you, my intestinally challenged friend, are packing your own feces. And youâ€™ll get rid of such when you damn well feel like it.
Overflows? A trifle. The looming prospect of a hernia or infection? These are concerns for men who pass their stools in the conventional way.
A colostomy bag speaks volumes. The voice box, sadly, will only get you laughed at. And, frankly, dear reader, you can imitate the mechanic hums and warbles of a voice box without the use of technology. It is a modern-day pink parasol for a dainty female presence. For true justice, you see, truly requires a bag.
JEFF PEARLMAN: There is no way any sane human being would pick a colostomy bag over a voice box. Yes, voice boxes cannot be concealed. Yes, they make people sound like:
C. Tom Waits (an ex-smoker, I’m guessing).
But voice boxes are neat, clean and easily confused for a big metal neck wart, and they don’t puncture, leaking liquid poop all over your new $50 silk T-shirt. That, more than anything, is the problem with The Bag. Sure, it can be temporarily hidden. But what if you’re running down a hill. Or skipping through a field. Or fighting a war, with bullets flying everywhere. One tiny wound to your bag andâ€”SPLASH! Game over. Plus, one can never underestimate the value of a party trick. What says, “Gather around and check out this dude?” more than someone singing Styx’s Babe with a voice box? As someone who struggled meeting women in college, I look back and think, “Damn, if only I had a voice box to seal the deal. If only …” Trust me, having known Greg Orlando as an undergrad, he’s thinking the exact same thing.
In conclusion, the voice box is apple pie and baseball. It’s America at it’s best.
(And, again, it doesn’t leak)