That might be the weirdest title I’ve ever written for a blog entry, but all I ask is that you bear with me on this one.
I got a text message from a friend yesterday that said, “Turn on NPR right now.” I did, and heard a story about a bunch of bizarre medical conditions that afflict musicians, like that badge-of-honor rash that violinists get on the left side of their necks from rubbing a violin across it for years or decades.
I didn’t hear anything that would have caused my friend to write with such urgency, though, so after the story was over, I wrote back and said, “Caught a bit of it. . .musicians’ ailments. What’d I miss?”
“Cello scrotum. You need to hear the whole story.”
“Holy crap!” I had to find out more.
As it turns out, an English medical journal back in the 1970’s reported about a condition called ‘guitarist’s nipple’ that is (supposedly) an irritation caused by a guitar rubbing across your chest. I suppose that’s assuming that you’re not wearing a shirt. I’ve played guitar for many years, and my nipples are fine and dandy, thank you very much. (TMI? NEI?) My ribs do go in a little bit on one side, where the top of the body of the guitar rests against your chest while you’re sitting down with it. Oh yeah, and the calluses on my fingers are thick enough that I can touch a hot pan or something for a while and not feel it. (“Mmmm, what’s that smell? Smells like bacon. Oh. . .it’s my finger.”)
Around the time of said nipple affliction, this English doctor and her husband thought it would be funny if they one-upped that condition, so they dreamed up ‘cello scrotum’, which they said was chafing in the scrotal area. This is, of course, impossible, because when you play the cello, you hold the instrument between your knees, which are spread far apart, which also means that your nether region is getting plenty of air, so there’s no opportunity for chafing. Not to belabor the point, but. . .
. . .there, you see? No chafing. You DO get sore sometimes from sitting on the edge of a chair all the time, but that’s about it. The cello is one of the most ergonomic instruments out there.
Apparently, though, the myth of scrotal chafing persisted for decades, until another journal mentioned the condition last December, which prompted the doctor to write to the journal and put the matter to rest once and for all.
The money quote of the article was this: “Perhaps after 34 years, it’s time for us to confess that we invented cello scrotum.”
Here’s a link to the story.
I had a ball writing this entry, by the way, but ultimately I find this subject to be completely nuts.