moby dick

This New Version of Moby Dick Leaves a Lot to Be Desired

Moby. Photo: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

There are a lot of things I’ve never read: opinion columns, that story about bees living in that woman’s eyes, anything written by Ayn Rand. But the words I most wish I could erase from my memory came from a place I’d never expect: the second memoir from the musician Moby.

In Then It Fell Apart, which was excerpted in the Times, Moby recounts his life after his most successful album — mostly the kind of stories you could understand from someone dealing with the dizzying effects of fortune and fame. Except for one story, which is so odd and unpleasant to picture that it is best for Moby himself to tell it:

I was dared to brush my drunken, flaccid penis up against Donald Trump’s suit jacket. Although, in the spirit of alcoholic disclosure, my caveat is this: as I was very drunk and high at the time I’m still not 100% sure it actually happened. But even though this happened almost 20 years ago, I’m still perpetually stunned by the fact that Americans elected as president a dimwitted con man whose only claim to fame is that he once hosted a mediocre reality-TV show …

I drank a shot of vodka to brace myself, pulled my flaccid penis out of my pants, and casually walked past Trump, trying to brush the edge of his jacket with my penis. Luckily he didn’t seem to notice or even twitch.

While I’m truly grateful the penis in this story did not belong to Donald Trump — it’s still unnerving and logistically confusing. First, the word flaccid was overutilized. Second, how long was Moby’s penis exposed? A few moments? A minute? Third, why didn’t Trump notice the penis? What would have even happened if he did? Could Moby’s dick have changed history?

I’ll likely never know the answers to any of these questions. It’s unclear if this literary moment is one that Herman Melville would approve of. But Melville’s menacing white whale and Moby’s “drunken, flaccid penis” are both things I’d like to avoid.

This New Version of Moby Dick Leaves a Lot to Be Desired