During lunch with several co-workers, one of them brought up a disgusting subject.

"I've written a limerick about that Bobbitt couple," he said. "Want to hear it?"

Despite my protests that it wasn't a fit topic for a lunch conversation, the others urged him to go on. So he recited his crude little poem:

Big John was a lad of great lust
Had a wife who was filled with distrust
One night while he slept
With a knife, in she crept
As a lover Big John's now a bust.
To my disappointment, everyone hooted and laughed. But news people are notoriously insensitive.

Even worse, they took out notebooks and began composing their own limericks and reading aloud. It was appalling. But I'm going to suppress my revulsion and pass some of them along to show how callous people can be about the misfortunes of others.

There once was a Bobbitt named John
Who thought he was quite the Don Juan
His wife disagreed
So the next time he wee'd
John couldn't locate his wand.
Isn't that loathsome?

Lorena wished John could be nicer
But he wasn't much of a de-icer
If she finds a new spouse
Let us hope he's no louse
Or we might have our first serial slicer
Odious isn't a strong enough word to describe such inhumanity.

Big John Bobbitt might have been hipper
Had he kept his hot hands from his zipper
But to his wifey's dismay
Big John leaped to the fray
The results would have pleased Jack the Ripper.
Absolutely vile. But they refused to desist.

A surgeon was filled with great tension
Trying to sew on a thing we can't mention
He stitched and he sewed
Used all the skills that he knowed
But the wee thing won't stand at attention.

John Bobbitt was never a loner
In fact, he was known as a roamer
His wife seized his prize
And cut him to size
Now he is his own organ donor.

There was once a crime most venal
One might say 'twas inches from renal
It wasn't for sport
That she made him so short
Her intentions were nothing but penal.

I ask you: What ever happened to compassion?

The Bobbitt case sure is a dilly
Though it sounds a little bit silly
He said she's the hacker
Who lopped off his whacker
She said she was only trying to Free Willy.
Such low humor. In the future I will lunch alone.

There once was a man from Manassas
Who was fond of sleeping with lasses
His wife had enough
So she chopped off his stuff
Now let's see him try to make passes.
People at the next table chuckled. There are boors everywhere.

There once was a lady named Bobbitt
Who got so fed up that she lopped it
She said, "I'm sorry, honey,
But your conduct's not funny,"
And she very efficiently stopped it.
I don't know if I can go on. But I'll try.

There once was a place in Virginia
Where a gal snipped it off like a zinnia
She whipped back the sheets
Ignored his sad bleats
And attacked like a professional ninja.
Fortunately, the waiter was bringing the check.

John Bobbitt's detractors will scoff
For it seems the judgment's been soft
He's been retrofitted
And now he's acquitted
That's the last time he ever gets off.
Now, with dread, I await the mail. I know there are many sadists out there who will try their hands at the limerick form at poor Bobbitt's expense. I should point out that most of the above trash was written by men. What ever happened to male bonding? By the way, anybody got a good rhyme for "bonding"?

And, the very next day: To my disgust, the fax machine began humming early in the morning, spewing out terrible limericks about the Bobbitts. Being a highly sensitive and politically correct person, my conscience tells me to run them through the paper shredder. But I suppose they can be of some value to psychologists, sociologists and others who study the workings of the sadistic mind. So I will stifle my better instincts and pass them along as a service to scholars. One of the first to arrive was the work of Chicagoan Paul Stroili:

When drinking in full regalia
Sometimes your memory will fail ya'
But John B. woke up thinking
I really must have been drinking
I have misplaced my genitalia.
Kevin Theis was man enough to express some remorse, saying: "I plead guilty to the same vileness as your lunch companions. God help me but they just popped into my head." And he wrote three of them.

Sweet Lorena did not use precision
The darkness, she said, hindered vision
She jumped on the divan
And gave husband John
An un-volunteered circumcision.

Big John B. was a creep, don't ya' know,
Whose wife gave him a horrible blow
Now the people he meets
As he walks down the streets
Say, "John Bobbitt? That old sew-and-sew."

"This case," said the cops, "sure does pickle us
"Searching for this man's thing does not tickle us
"It was somewhere 'round here
"That she threw this man's gear
"But to us the whole thing is ri-dick-ulus."
Without any pangs of remorse, Jim Schaefer, of Mt. Prospect, Ill., offered this to the world:

A much-abused lady named Bobbitt
Said unto her husband, please stop it
Or I'll draw my stiletto
And chop down your palmetto
And see just how far I can lob it.
The next one came from Lake Forest, Ill. The author used only the initials A. H. Such modesty. Or maybe shame.

His technique, oh boy, it was brutal
To retrain him, she knew, would be futile
So she aimed for the tip
But the blade it did slip
And cut off the whole kit and caboodle
Peter Kendall, a journalist, made two offerings. He will have to live with himself.

Now you know that it had to sting
But no curses did poor Johnny sing
He was quite relaxed
When his manhood was axed
Guess it wasn't that big of a thing

John Bobbitt was a bit too cocky
And his marriage grew ever more rocky
Now it's true, I swear,
That in terms of underwear
He wears stitches, not boxers or jockeys.
A guy named Harold, who sounded like he was drinking his lunch, called and said: "I wrote a couple, but I don't have a fax and the mail takes too long. Can I just read them to you?" And he did:

A fellow named John went out drinking
When he finally got home he was thinking
He would give his sweet wife
The big thrill of her life
Alas, the means to this end was soon shrinking.
Pausing only to take another swallow, he went on:

It's not sinful to hit a few bars
And to drink beer 'til the pre-dawn hours
But he lurched to his bed
With sheer lust in his head
Now when he meets a new gal he just cowers.
"OK?" Harold said. "What 'ya think? Not bad, huh? I never wrote limericks before." I wished him a happy lunch.

The next contribution was faxed from George, who said: "Don't use my full name. My wife takes this thing seriously and we haven't been getting along. I don't want to be next."

They're making plans in movie-land
For a film about Lorena's sleight-of-hand
Whether it's funny or sad
One thing makes me glad
I don't have to be Bobbitt's stunt man.
And from Larry Meekma in Oak Lawn, Ill., we have this:

The legend of Bobbitt is growing
It's a story well worth the knowing
He offended his wife
So she took up her knife
And put an end to his coming and going.
I will end it with this anonymous contribution:

This story is just so much flotsam
Appealing to those who are rotten
I know that don't rhyme
But I don't have the time
As a journalist you have hit bottom.
To which I must respond:

I'll admit that I wasn't too keen
About dwelling on a topic so mean
But do I really havta
Write about NAFTA
When the nation is obsessed by John's wien?