How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love The Pecker

A valedictory speech to the graduating class

Howard McKenzie-Murray
Human Parts
4 min readJun 10, 2024


Penis graduation Ceremony
Photo by Vasily Koloda on Unsplash

I wish I could play a musical instrument. It’s one of my big regrets. I did play clarinet for a little while at school, but my heart wasn’t in it and by the end of two years I’d pretty much worked out which end to play it from.

My teacher loathed the sight of me — which didn’t help. If you’re not some baby Mozart pulling symphonies out of your a-hole then they just don’t care about you. My teacher was this mean, fragile-looking lady called Miss Horowitz.

She’d lose her temper when I couldn’t get a scale right and she used to have a Panadol Rapid before my lessons every week. But she’d take it in front of me. I’m not kidding. And she’d rub her temples as I played. How’s that supposed to boost your self-esteem? If you’re not a genius it’s to hell with you.

What finally did it was a piece called Habanera from the opera Carmen that I was nailing it at home. After a year of making these horrible noises, a year of trash, music started coming out of me, but when I played for the cringing, temple-rubbing Miss Horowitz I lost it. And it just killed me because I really wanted to show her that I could do it. Mid-Habanera, she opened the window and just howled. I was scared for my life. When she brought her head back inside she’d snapped her pen and her hands were covered in ink. I was like ‘okay, that’s me done’.

I kept taking my clarinet to school every Tuesday, but I’d never show up to my lessons and the weird thing was that she kept marking me down as present. I spent the half an hour hanging out with my friend Lettie in the girl’s toilets. Me sitting in one cubicle with my clarinet case in my lap and her in the one over telling me what boy she’d had oral-sex with while she smoked.

Sex scared the bejesus out of me. It was this Catholic thing that got passed down from my mum. She never talked about sex. T.V. sex scenes made the whole family want to die. We’d all sit there frozen and not breathing until ages after it was over. The whole family would collectively dissociate and our souls would all file out of the house in separate directions. Then after a while dad would burp and that would kind of get everybody feeling a bit looser and maybe loose enough to breathe a bit and return to our bodies.

I learnt everything from Lettie. She was this bagful of sexy facts. Pretty much a walking Sex Education. She was so easy-breezy about it too. She loved going into all the details. I’d sit there with a spoon eating it all up while she talked about this guy’s pecker and that guy’s pecker.

It was always ‘pecker’ — and I liked that name for it because it made this thing I’d always been horrified by, a thing that could rape me, seem like a nice guy. ‘Pecker’ made it seem like he was sweet and a bit pathetic. I imagined he had a nervous stutter and a cold and wore cheap cardigans. It was something you felt sorry for. And Lettie did seem sorry for her peckers. Like they were always trying their best but failing under this enormous strain. Terrified they wouldn’t measure-up. And our job was to kind of make them feel okay so they could bloom.

It was us who had to help this whole generation believe in themselves no matter how completely inadequate and useless they were.

I love that I was part of the growing-up process of a whole race. It was a two-way street. We helped each other out of our training wheels overnight. And I’m just grateful to Lettie and her insane libido and this teenage-Madonna wisdom she had that it was all on us and nobody else.

And I’ve always wondered what Miss Horowitz did with her peckers when she was younger, but I know for a fact she would’ve been rubbing her temples furiously and yelling at them. She would’ve convinced them they’d never hit the high-note in Carmen. Poor peckers. And they never would have hit her high-note.

I’m proud there’s a few peckers (I’m not saying how many) out there right now with my name on them graduating into cocks, dicks and penises in mortarboard hats in front of friends and family. If I was an inspirational guest-speaker at the graduation ceremony I think I’d just say don’t be a Miss Horowitz. Let everybody know you’re sure they’re going to hit the high-note and then stand back and watch them go.



Howard McKenzie-Murray
Human Parts

Howard McKenzie-Murray writes for theatre and short fiction