In one of those fluke happy accidents in life, I now count my wife’s ex-boyfriend among my closest friends. Phil and I used to eye one another cautiously over the years like the competitors that we were, but that child-like behavior has now passed with age as we have both settled into happy marriages with women far above our station.

We have discovered common traits that include a need to constantly poke fun at people around us that eventually gets turned on one another. Sometimes, when the bartender directs pints our way with the speed of an air traffic controller at JFK during Christmas week, that good-natured ribbing awakens the old rivalry about who might have been better in bed with my missus.

Is there anything more ridiculous than two Irishmen comparing the length of the wand and the magic of the stick with one another, given the bum reputation that our race has in that department? In fact, it is quite acceptable to make fun of the state of the our horizontal challenges even on Broadway; Martin Casella has had successful runs on both sides of the Atlantic with his comedic play called The Irish Curse.

As a service to you, dear reader, I decided to do some research. The burning question is: what size is normal? The answer is that the unit comes in all shapes and sizes and almost all are ‘normal’, according to the Irish Health website. Research on that site has shown that the average length of the erect male penis worldwide is just over five inches (12.8cm). The article goes on to say that “Irish men are not regarded as being any more or less well endowed as our European neighbors.”

During a summer pool party recently, I overheard my wife’s friends discreetly disagree on the subject of Irish size.

“I dated an Irish guy once,” explained a rather drunk and loud woman in the circle. “He was funny as hell, had those sexy blue eyes and the Colin Farrell brogue goin’ for him, the whole nine yards. But then he took off his pants and it looked like an AA battery sticking out of a brillo pad.”

She looked over her shoulder as the women clucked and cackled around her to see if I was a safe distance away (I wasn’t) and in a voice that drunks think is a whisper when it is actually a yell to everyone else, turned to my wife.

“Do you have that problem?”

“No complaints whatsoever,” she said with an easy smile of a cat that ate a canary. I swallowed on a mouthful of Bud Lite Lime, squinting as hard as I could to block a tear. Even if she didn’t mean it, I fell in love with her all over again for defending my honor.

Since five inches is the average, that means half of us will have a longer one than average when erect and half will have ones that are shorter than average. I could say that guys like me get theirs to five inches by folding it in half, but I suspect you’d cut through that line of malarkey without even knowing me. The Irish Health web site encourages us to stop “fretting and put that measuring tape away!”

That doesn’t stop the anonymous bloggers on the site from baring their soul of misery anyway.
“I am not very well endowed for a man,” writes one. “A woman can get a padded bra, is there anything to boost my crotch and confidence.Please help.”

Put a sock in it, dude. Literally. Actually, make it two: one is in the mouth to keep you from whining about what God didn't give you and then put one behind the zipper to make you look like you have more going on than you do. As I learned in my college marketing classes, packaging goes a helluva long way to sell something even if the product inside is “short” of expectations.

“Mine is tiny altogether,” writes another. “This is a very awkward problem because I’m good looking enough and so I can get a girl mostly whenever I’m in the mood, but it really affects my confidence because I know I cant go any further with a girl because of how tiny it is. I can’t go to my doc as he’s male and it would kill me.”

I went through a period when I was insecure about mine. It started when I slept over my friend Armando’s house in high school and I got a peek at another man’s enormous equipment for the first time. I normally change names in my writing to protect the innocent but it should be noted that Armando had no problems whatsoever with me mentioning his name in this piece about his piece when I asked his permission. I mean, can you blame him?

Anyway, he worked at a pool club near his home back in 1983 and knew of a hole in the fence that we could sneak through for some night swimming. We called some girls we were interested in at the time and after liberal dosages of peach schnapps and cheap wine, the suggestion was made to go skinny dipping. In seconds, Armando’s swimsuit was a puddle around his ankles and he made his way to the diving board. The bounce of that monstrosity was something I will never forget and I remember feeling horrified and completely emasculated as I watched the tip of his thing pierce the meniscus of the pool's water a full five seconds before his stomach did. I spent the rest of the evening at the edge of the pool and made circles in the water with my feet. Of course, my swim trunks remained on the entire time and my shoulders were slumped as Armando, the girls, and something that resembled the Loch Ness Monster with a back ache splashed carelessly around me for the rest of the evening.

Then there’s that whole myth around hand and foot size being commensurate with “other sizes” that had me perplexed. With a size 9.5 shoe and fingers that look like Gerber’s vienna sausages stitched to a pink pillow of a palm, I thought I was cursed for sure!

I remember starting college the next year and eyeing the communal shower situation with unimaginable dread in the dorm complex. It turns out that the experience of showering with other men proved to be liberating when I discovered that, as the Irish Health study proved, I was in the middle to slightly-upper middle (every inch counts) of the pack when I dared take a peek.

I’m not sure if I am plagued with an Irish curse, but I do know I can brag my way out of any situation with a bit of blarney around my wife's ex at the pub--and that is an Irish blessing!