Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Vagina

When Greg Samson woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found his penis changed in his bed into a vagina.

In the fugue state between being asleep and awake, his hand went below his waist, as it did every morning - and several times a day - to look for his reliable old friend and…

What the fuck, he thought, as his hand felt it. Where the hell is it? Then, he thought, this is one weird dream. You don't just grow a vagina. And he closed his eyes.

When he awoke again, his hand once again traveled south and it was still there. He ran to the bathroom, turned on the light - in his shock, his eyes needed no time to adjust - and looked.

He had a vagina. He stared at it in the mirror. He moved his hand south and touched it gingerly. He was not unfamiliar with vaginas, having seen his fair share over the years, but never quite like this. He took his fingers and moved the labia very slowly, as if disarming a bomb. Which, in a way, he was.

I have a fucking vagina, he thought. Then, he shook his head violently. It is definitely not a fucking vagina. That is not going to happen.

Then, what am I going to do? I can't just go to work with a vagina. He imagined the conversations. ‘Hey, Greg, how's it going today?’ ‘Great, Kim, I have a vagina now!’ ‘That's so funny! So do I!’ No, he could not go. Except he had a meeting. That he was leading. And he couldn't really call in vagina to work.

He felt the familiar pressure on his bladder and went to pee. He stood in front of the bowl and... watched as pee went all over the floor. Fuck, he thought, as he walked to the kitchen for paper towels and Mr. Clean.

He showered and cleaned himself...down there. He had seen enough porn in his life and decided to try what he had seen. He began touching himself and was overcome with an intense feeling, like one he had never known. Which caused him to slip and fall on his ass, the cold tub sending waves of pain through him.

He got out and stared at his naked body. Fuck, I still have a vagina. And I have to go to work. As far as he could tell, everything else about him was the same, no tits or ass or anything. He put on his underwear first and noticed the way the front just...sagged around his crotch. Maybe it will look better when I put on pants, he surmised.

It didn't. When he looked in the mirror, he saw a weird bunching. If he were the kind of person to look at crotches, not that he was but not that he judged anyone who did, he would be horrified. And he'd be standing in front of the room, with everyone seated.

So he did the only reasonable thing. He shoved some balled-up socks down there. Shifting them just so. Far from great but better.

He walked to the train station, eyes darting from side to side. Why is that woman looking at me, he thought. She knows, she definitely knows. He smiled at her and said, as cheerily as he could, “good morning. It’s a great day, isn’t it?”

Which had the unintended effect of causing her to recoil and run away. Come back, he thought, I’m not a homicidal rapist or anything. I can’t be anymore. Not that I was but I can’t be now. Besides, we have a lot in common!

He felt the socks shift and, as discreetly as he could, he shifted them. Which was not discreetly enough, judging from the look of disgust on the face of the woman pushing the stroller. He felt himself turn red.

After an interminable walk (approximately fifteen minutes), he got to the train station. He looked at the arrival sign - next train, four minutes. Good. He didn’t have to rush. He stood on the platform, intently staring at the peeling poster - one movie replacing another movie that had flopped miserably. He wondered if anyone from the movie, a key grip or something, ever stood on a train platform the day they posted the sign and thought, ‘that’s mine. I worked on that,’ maybe took a selfie next to it. And then, when the movie flopped, if he avoided that part of the platform.

The train pulled in and was full. Fuck. He found himself pressed up against a woman, who glared at him. “Sorry,” he mumbled. He tried to clear as much space as he could, so his non-existent crotch wasn’t brushing against her.

At Grand Central, the train cleared out and, before the new passengers got on, he dove for a seat. That’s better, he thought. In a seat, no one can tell you’re not normal. Except when you sit there looking around the car like a crazy person. He considered humming loudly so that he could have a couple of seats.

The train began moving and he felt...every vibration. Every single vibration. In a way that he had never felt before. Hmm, he thought, this is...different. Followed by the more powerful ‘stop it! You can’t think about that! Besides, you have a meeting! Think about your meeting! And the lineup for the 1996 Yankees. Wade Boggs. Think of Wade Boggs naked. There we go.

10 AM. His presentation. “And, uhh, so we can see that, in Q3…” He watched everyone as he spoke. Was John looking at him? Was Kim staring? Had the socks fallen down his pants? Focus, Greg, he thought. This is your show. Do this. He turned to the smartboard. “And, as the third deck shows…”

Three days, or forty-five minutes later, “You OK, man?” John asked, a look of concern across his face.

Greg discreetly shifted the socks. “Huh? Why?”

“You looked awful up there.”

Shit. This was his show, his chance to look good, to move up. And he fucked up. “Was I that bad?”

John laughed. “That's what she said...you were fine, speech-wise but you looked like hell. Long night?” John was married with two kids and forever pumping single guys for stories of debauchery. ‘Tell me everything. Please. I get ‘they're asleep...shhhh.’

Well, at some point, my penis disappeared. So, yeah, kinda. “Heh heh, you know how it goes…”

“I knew how it went,” he sighed. “Man, and on a Tuesday too. Lucky bastard.”

Yup, headed to Foxwoods right after this, keep the streak going. “Yes, but you have the love of a good woman.”

John laughed. “Yeah, well, don't tell my wife about her.”

Greg all but ran to the bathroom, remembering to head into a stall. Peeing on the floor of a public bathroom being reserved for small children, drunks and people at football games. He sat down and hoped that it was back.

Instead, he pulled out the socks. He heard the sound of the stream, different than before, hitting the bowl. He pulled back up his underwear and then felt a wetness. Fuck. He pulled down his underwear, wiped, tried to blot out the wetness and then pulled them back up.

He went into a stairwell and called his doctor. “Doctor's office,” the receptionist said. You could hear her clicking her mouse to look at whatever gossip site. Well, if you think that's juicy, just wait.

“Hi, this is Greg Samson. I need an appointment with Dr. Berletti.” The words spilling out in one sentence.

Now, you could hear her eyes roll. “A week from Tuesday is the…”

“It's an emergency.”

“What sort of emergency?”

I have a vagina! Is that emergency enough for you? “It's, uh, personal…”

Bored, “Everything here is kept strictly confidential.” This was bullshit. He knew it was bullshit. He could hear her telling everyone. And he couldn't really blame her for that.

“You promise?”

Eye roll. “We take HIPAA very seriously,” she huffed.


You could hear the competing impulses. On the one hand, her job depended on keeping things secret. Not just her job, the entire practice couldn’t break doctor-patient confidentiality. On the other hand, he knew she told everyone about the weird shit she saw. His doctor friends did. “It’s a, uh, rash.” He heard silence. “A rash...on my groin...and it is bad, very bad.” He almost said, ‘is that enough of an emergency for you.’

Flatly. “3 PM. Are you still on United?”

He was at the doctor by 2:30. He had been a patient of Dr. Berletti for years, each having seen the other through marriage and divorce, but this was something else.

He was in the paper gown, sitting on the table, the nurse having taken his vitals when the doctor came in. “Greg, how have you been?”

I grew a vagina, he thought. You? “Oh, uh, hey, doc….” He willed himself to look him in the eye. Or at least the forehead.

The doctor looked at the chart. “Vitals look good. So, I hear you have a rash down there.” He laughed, “have you been someplace you shouldn’t.”

He coughed. “It’s not a rash.”

He looked concerned. “What is it then?”

He held the gown closed with his hand. “OK, doc, you have to promise not to say anything….”

“I’m a doctor,” he said, annoyed. “I think I can maintain my professionalism. If you’ve done ER duty, there is nothing that will surprise you.”

“Yeah, well, we’ll see about that.”

“Greg, come on.” He waved his hand in circles. Greg pulled up the gown. “Well, I stand corrected,” he laughed. “When did this happen?”

“It’s not funny.”

The doctor smiled. “It isn’t. You’re right.”

Greg smiled. “I mean it would be if it happened to you. But not me.”

“Thanks. So when?”

“I woke up this morning and it was there.”

“And you waited to call me?”

“I had a meeting.”

“Ah.” Writing down something else.

“So, how did this happen?”

The doctor looked at him. “I can honestly say I have no idea.”

“You’ve never heard of this? Ever?”

“I can’t say that I have.”

“There are no recorded cases of,” and he paused, “spontaneous vaginosis?”

“Even though the sound of it is something quite precocious? No. We will need to draw blood.” Greg hated needles and the doctor knew that, as evidenced by, “we need to check your hormone levels, don’t you think?”

“I guess.” He felt chastened, even more than he did showing that he no longer had his penis. “You won’t tell anyone, will you?”

“Of course not. It’ll be in my notes. But, no, I’m not walking out into the lobby and announcing it.”

“Sorry. I know. This is just…”

He wrote something on a pad. “Yes, it is. How are you doing?”

Greg stared at him. “How do you think I’m doing?”

The doctor looked at him. His eyes darted downward - Greg hoped uncontrollably - and then came back to Greg’s eyes. “Right, that was not the best question, I get that. I know this has to be shocking.”

How much did you go into debt for that insight, he thought. “You think?”

“Point taken. And if you want to talk about it, I’m here…”

“Thanks,” Greg mumbled, suddenly feeling more naked than he had ever been before. He bunched the gown behind him and sat down on it, clamping his legs together. The doctor looked at him. “Sorry, doc. I know. It’s just…”

“We’ll get to the bottom of this, Greg. I promise. No matter what. Someone knows something about this.”

“What do you mean someone? I don’t want anyone else to know.” He now felt even more naked and exposed.

“We’re not going to solve it in this office. Medicine doesn’t work that way.” His tone being that of a teacher with a student to whom he’s explained the method a hundred times.

“I’ll be a freak!” He tried to keep his voice down. “No one else can know.”

“Greg,” now the teacher wasn’t mad, just very, very disappointed. “I can’t treat you like this. I know you’re scared and worried…”

“Wouldn’t you be?” He could feel the sweat on his forehead.

“Of course. But I’d want to figure it out. Don’t you want to figure it out?”

Of course, he did. He couldn’t just walk around with a vagina and not know why. “What do I do now?”

He handed him the paper. “I’d like you to see a gynecologist.”

“No. No. Fuck no. How am I going to explain that?”

“To who?”

“To, uh,” and he had a eureka moment, “the women in the waiting room! I’ll get arrested.”

“There’s an excellent gynecologist downstairs, Dr. Philips. I’ll arrange for you to see her after hours, OK?” His tone brooking no opposition. “You need to stay healthy.”

“What do I do now?” Other than killing himself.

He looked at him. “Go about your day as best as you can. You don’t plan on flashing anyone, do you?”

He smiled. “I could probably make a mint. Shemale porn is big.”

The doctor rolled his eyes. “I think that term is out of favor now, Greg. And you’re not really one. More like the opposite, I’d say.”

“Very funny.” Then, wondering what the opposite would be. He-female? Too wordy. She-guy? No, that’s just a shemale. He-gal? That worked. Except that he was the he-gal.

He laughed. “I just don’t want you to get your hopes up is all.”

“Your concern is whelming, doctor. Really. How the fuck did this happen?”

The doctor looked at him. “I am genuinely curious about this. Jokes aside, it’s quite…”

“Frightening? Alarming?”

The doctor looked at him. “Yes, but…”

“But what?” Greg snapped.

“We’ll see what it is. But you have my word you will be treated with dignity and respect by everyone that I recommend. You have to trust me though.”

“I trust you, doc. It’s just I…”

He was going to head back to work, then he looked at his watch. 4:15. No reason to head back. Plus, it wasn’t like he could focus. It was like ninth grade all over again. With a shift in focus.

He walked down the street, keeping one eye on the people and the other on his reflection. Was he walking weird? He felt his hips swaying, his ass shaking. Why is that guy smiling at me, he wondered? He's laughing at me. Well, why don't you try something? Just because I have a vagina doesn't mean I can't kick your ass.

And then started paying more attention to his reflection. Swing your arms more, he thought. That'll balance it out. He was never one to swing his arms when he walked. He wasn’t an ape. And it was rude. But he had to do something - desperate times and all that. He began swinging his arms as he walked.

Then, he felt something hit his hand. And then a banshee howl.

“Watch where you’re walking, you ape!” A woman’s voice screamed. “Stop looking at yourself, you narcissistic a...hole!”

He followed the sound and saw a child laying on the ground, crying. “It’s OK, honey,” the woman said, “he,” and she glared at Greg, then hissed, “didn’t mean anything by it.”

“Sorry, sorry, sorry,” he babbled, bending down the child, who turned into his mother’s chest, grabbing her tightly. “I didn’t...I just...I was at the doctor and got some bad news and I wasn’t watching…”

Through clenched teeth, “It’s fine, sir.”

“I really..I’ve never...I’m...can I give you money to get him….” A toy? A pony? A car? “Ice cream or something?”

The child turned to him and stared. There didn’t seem to be any swelling. “No,” his mother said, “It’s fine.”

He began backing away. “Really, ma’am.” Glare. “Miss.” Another glare. “I’m really, really sorry.” He almost offered to let the kid hit him in the face as a trade, but stopped, figuring that could be taken the wrong way. “Um, anyway, have a nice...better day.”

He walked home, arms tightly at his side. Which made his back hurt. And people stare at the man...or whatever…from the Ministry of Silly Walks. He was probably walking like a runway model. He just couldn’t hit another kid in the face.

Finally, he made it home, fumbling in his pockets for his keys, desperately trying to avoid brushing up against it.

Plink, plink, plink, went the keys as they hit the floor.

Plink, plink, plink, they went again as he picked them up and dropped them again. Fuck, he thought, as his hands shook.

After four tries with three keys, he got inside, breathing a sigh of relief. He pulled the socks out of his pants. Do I wash them, he thought. He picked them up, sniffed them - not too bad - and threw them on the bed for tomorrow.

He went to the bathroom and sat down, feeling a torrent rush from him. Without looking, he knew it was still there. Gingerly, he wiped himself dry and then, pants and underwear around his ankles, waddled to the bed. He flopped down and stared at the ceiling. “Well,” he thought, as he stared at the ceiling, “I made it through the day.”

He was hungry, almost starving. Between meetings, and the fact that his stomach was in knots, he couldn't remember if he had eaten anything. He walked into the kitchen and stared into the refrigerator. Condiments mostly. Two beers. An onion - he couldn't remember where and why he bought an onion -and some cheese. He really needed to go to the store but didn't feel motivated, not today.

Thank god for Seamless, he thought, as he opened the app. I don’t have to talk to anyone. I can just take the bag from the delivery guy and close the door. Perfect.

He looked at the choices and wondered if there were specific foods you should feed a vagina. He remembered an ex taking cranberry pills for a urinary tract infection. He didn’t think he had one but, then again, he didn’t think he’d wake up with a vagina either. He decided he didn’t have an infection and ordered a grilled cheese sandwich.

The delivery man came and he took the bag, with a minimum of words exchanged. He didn't want any problems, ignoring that the delivery man would no more look at his junk than he would have looked at the delivery man’s.

He took his food to the couch, figuring he'd watch TV to distract himself. Something mindless and funny. He turned on Me. Hogan's Heroes. Bumbling Nazis, perfect; Schultz's ‘I know nothing’ providing inordinate comfort. He sat on the couch, legs spread until he absent-mindedly dropped his hand there. Then, just as quickly, pulling it back as if he had been given an electric shock. He clenched his legs tightly shut and put his hands on his lap.

By the time he passed out on the couch, his hips hurt from sitting. At 3 AM, he awoke, in wrinkled clothes and contacts glued onto his eyeballs. He walked in the bedroom, shucking his clothes into the laundry, and then headed to the bathroom to take out his lenses. He turned on the light, resolutely refusing to look down there. Besides, he could feel its absence. He didn't need to look.

At 7:30 the next morning, he woke up to the ringing of his phone.

“Hello?” He mumbled, although some may have heard ‘mzwkl?’

“Greg, it's Doctor Berletti. Did I wake you?” Greg offered a non-committal grunt. “I have good news.”

He woke up quickly. “You know what's wrong? You found my penis?”

The doctor laughed. “Not quite. Dr. Phillips has agreed to stay late tonight to see you.”

You need to redefine ‘good news,’ he thought. Like the way his stepmom used to say that the dog ‘left us a present.’ “Great.”

“This is the good thing,” he said. “I know you want a quick answer, as do I.” His tone left Greg dubious. “But, I’m not sure that there is one. And she is the best…”

“She’s going to think I’m a freak.” I do, he thought. And you. Why not her?

“She is not going to think you’re a freak. She’s a professional.”

From nowhere. “Ah. I’m trying to retain my amateur gynecologist status. For the Olympics.”

“You and me both,” the doctor laughed. “I keep telling my girlfriend those web searches are for training purposes only.”

‘Web searches’ snapped Greg back to reality. “Fuck fuck fuck.” He wanted to cry but that, combined with the vagina, was a bridge too far.

“Greg, this will be OK. We are going to figure this out. But, you need to trust the professionals.”

Uh huh. Sure. Why not. “Uh huh.” Easy for you to say, he thought. You still have your junk and so does she.

“Greg, we’ve known each other how long? Trust me. Your appointment is at 7:00 tonight. 12th floor of my building. Do you want me to come with you?”

Greg thought about that for a second. “I appreciate it, but no. That’d make it that much weirder. If it’s possible.”

“Are you sure?”

Greg laughed. “Are you going to hold my hand?”

“Well, call me afterwards. I assume I have your consent to discuss this case with her after the exam.”

“Sure.” When he thought about it later, it made him wonder what that meant.

Well, I’m up now, he thought. May as well eat breakfast and get ready. He poured himself a bowl of cereal, then couldn’t remember the last time he bought milk. He went to the fridge, sniffed it and thought, ‘I should probably buy more soon’ and poured it in. He ate his cereal, looking at his phone. He Googled ‘man grows vagina.’ As he looked at the first couple of searches, he thought, ‘either stop looking or stop eating.’ He chose to eat, opting for the news instead. Washington may be a train wreck, he thought, but he was pretty sure that Mitch McConnell hadn’t grown a vagina. Maybe it would help.

He went to the bedroom and picked up the socks off the bed, sniffing them again. He put on his underwear and crammed them in again. He looked at himself in the mirror on the door. ‘You look like a fucking idiot, Greg.’ And then he grabbed his coat and went to work.

He waited for the train, the platform not as crowded. What a difference half an hour makes, he thought. The train pulled in and he saw one empty seat. He and a cute dark haired girl both eyed it. Remembering the day before, Greg smiled, “It’s yours.”

The girl, suspicious. “Are you sure? You were here first.”

Greg, suppressing the memory of the day before, “No. I’m good. I sit all day,” he laughed nervously. The girl slid into the seat, avoiding someone else making a claim because she was trying to be nice to Greg.

Which is how he found himself standing in front of her, his groin at her eye level. Shit, he thought. She’s going to be looking straight at it. Shit. He saw someone stand up down the car and he made a move to grab the seat. Smooth, he thought, very smooth. He was beaten out but at least he was away from her. He looked over at her, wondering what she was thinking. She was looking at her phone.

He got to work, offering his hellos to the receptionist. Let me just get to my office, he thought. If I can do that, I’m good until lunch.

“Greg.” Mike. The VP. His boss’ boss. Yippee.

“Hey, Mike,” he said, acutely aware of the second pair of socks on his person. “How’s everything?”

“Good good. I haven’t seen you for a while. What’s new?”

I have a vagina now. And I’m going to the gynecologist later. Thanks for asking. “Nothing. Usual. Busy on the Zympex project. How about you? How was Chapel Hill?” Mike’s son was applying to college. Every meeting began with Mike groaning about the process.

“Beautiful campus. Gorgeous girls. What's not to like?” He laughed.

Greg laughed, taking care not to shift his body too much, “True enough.”

“That's the spirit, Greg.”

The day could not have gone more slowly, the sole saving grace being that his 4:30 meeting was canceled. At 6:00, he left for the appointment. He wondered if he was supposed to eat something beforehand or to fast. If he was supposed to have fasted, they would have told him, he decided. He went to buy a cheese stick, figuring something in his stomach wouldn’t hurt. He took two bites and threw it, the nausea overwhelming him.

He entered into the building and tried to get past the security guard, who was playing on his phone.

Without looking up, “Where are you going?”

Slumping back to the desk, “Ten. Doctor Phillips,” and he breathed in.

Still not looking up, “ID.” He scanned the ID in, and handed it back, all without sustained eye contact.

He got off the elevator and breathed a sigh of relief at the darkness in the other offices. He buzzed and a small Asian woman in her late 30s came to the door. “I'm Dr. Phillips, you must be Greg Samson.” Her face inscrutable. A Korean ex once laughed at him, ‘just because you don't pay attention doesn't make us inscrutable. I'm extremely scrutable.’

He smiled, “I must be,” and walked in. He looked around. It looked like every other doctor’s office, not that he knew what to expect. “Thanks for, uh, seeing me.”

She nodded. “You're welcome. So how does it feel? Anything unusual?”

He laughed nervously, “it's all kind of unusual.”

“Sorry, I…bad question on my part. Any dryness, itching, excess moisture?”

He shrugged, “I'm kinda new at this. Feels nor…I mean the same as yesterday, I guess.”

She led him to an exam room. “There's a gown on the back of the door. I'll give you some privacy,” and then she left.

He got undressed slowly, folding his clothes more carefully than he ever did, sliding his shoes under the chair. Then he stood there. I am in a gynecologist’s office, he thought. I am in a gynecologist's office because I have a vagina. Which she is going to look at because she is a gynecologist, only avoiding a Mobius strip of self-pity when she knocked. “Hang on,” and he quickly put the gown on, haphazardly tying the back. “Come in.”

She smiled, “I need you to get on the table, Mr. Samson.” He sat the way he always did, upright with his feet hanging over the edge. “On your back please,” then, “I need you to scooch down…”

His mind going blank, “Scooch?”

“Yes,” and now she sounded miffed, “on your bottom. Then put your legs in the stirrups.”

“Sorry, this is new to me.” At my last checkup, I had a penis.

She smiled, “My apologies.”

He scooched and put his legs in the stirrups. She went to spread them, “Ow, fuck, sorry, I mean ow.”

“What's the issue?”

“Those…things…almost tore me in two.”

“Sorry, this is new to me too,” and she moved his legs still too far apart. “Try to relax your butt, stomach and vaginal muscles as much as possible. This will make you more comfortable.”

Oh yeah, it's gonna be like Club Med. He tried to relax his vaginal muscles but every time he tried, he thought about his. Vaginal. Muscles. And he tensed up. In the end, he just exhaled.

Dr. Phillips sat the end of the table and looked in. “Any clues?” He realized that, while he outweighed her by 80 pounds and was 9” taller, lying here, legs spread, she was in complete control. And not in a good way.

“Well, everything looks normal.”


“I mean, there are no warts or cysts.”

He shrugged, “K.” If he was going to be stuck, may as well be normal.

He watched as she took out a bizarre metal device. “What is that?”

She smiled, “I’m sorry. I'm used to patients…who… Well anyway, this is a speculum. It's used to spread the walls of your…a…vagina.” She put it in and began spreading it.

“Mother FUCKER.”

Wordlessly, she adjusted it. “Better?”

Was she irritated? She had no right to be. She had a vagina too and she got the owner’s manual besides. “Yeah.”

“Do you want to see your cervix?”

“I have a cervix?” He sighed. “Sure.” Why the hell not? She held a mirror and he stared at it. Not like he hadn't seen one before. He had. Lots of them. Well, more than his share at least. But this was different. Before it was like going to the movies. He liked special effects but he didn't care about how it worked behind the scenes.

“OK,” she said nervously, “I am going to take a Pap smear.”

“Why?” He knew why. He wasn't an idiot. Well not normally. Just now.

“To check to make sure you don't have cervical cancer.”

He blurted out, “Well, that would be my luck. Two days with a vagina and I get cancer.”

“I'm sure you don't. Don't worry.” Except about MY FUCKING VAGINA. Fucking being rhetorical obviously. She took the smear and put in a tube.

“Does insurance cover this?”

She laughed, “We'll work something out, I'm sure. I wouldn't know how to code this.”

“Man with a vagina? Really? I'm your first?”

“You are. Be gentle.” Was she flirting with him? No, you ïdiot, you have a vagina. Her looked at her left hand, no ring, no sign of one. Maybe?

No. She is not, he realized when she stuck two fingers in and began pushing on his stomach. “What are you doing?”

“Checking to see your uterus…well, first to see if you have one.” She got a concerned look.


“Well, we are going to need to do a sonogram.”

“Is everything ok?”

“Well, if you were a woman, I would say you are perfectly fine…”

He took a deep breath. “Meaning?”

The last words he heard before he passed out. “You appear to have a uterus.”

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