In 1998, I wrote an idea for a short story in my notebook that reads as follows:

“Boy is born with his penis where his nose should be and his nose where his penis should be.”

Under that: “Both function normally.”

I’m not sure, but at the time I wrote that, I was likely in the kind of mental state where you shouldn’t operate a motor vehicle, threshing machinery, or a pen. Nevertheless, I kept mentally revisiting the idea every year or so, particularly out of boredom when in waiting rooms and there were no good magazines, or on trains or buses, during office conferences or compulsory religious ceremonies. I wondered if there was any way possible — any fucking way possible — on earth or any other planet that I could make a decent, readable, literary story out of such a worthless, waste-of-ink, batshit idea. And if so, would some quirky literary magazine buy it and give me two free sample copies of their magazine for my trouble?

It seemed like a noble goal, and then, very quickly, not at all.

Even after 2005 — the release year of “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo,” featuring a lady born with a cock just below her nose, which led me, in another one of those pesky mental states again, to research whether I had a case that would hold up in front of a judge — I’d still think about it when I had a free minute. I tried to make the Penis/Nose, Nose/Penis idea into a story that someone would admire and think was bizarre but somehow also realistic and emotionally heartbreaking.

I never wrote a word of it, but I wanted it to work — for years I did. It was like an unsolved Rubik’s Cube you leave on your desk and twist a few times every so often, until one day months later when you say, “Fuck it,” and just rearrange the stickers.

Which leads me to this: If you want the Penis/Nose, Nose/Penis idea, it’s yours. I’m giving it to you. If I haven’t figured out how to use it in 10 years, I shouldn’t ever.

Maybe you can do better.

I’ll even give you all the pieces I’ve figured out so far. It’s like Write-By-Numbers!

1. Boy is born with a penis where his nose should be and his nose where his penis should be. Both function normally. Got it?

2. Now that you’ve got the idea, it needs a title. You could go with something blunt, like “Year of the Cock.” Or maybe highbrow’s more your style — in which case, thanks for stopping by.

3. The doctor who delivers him (I picture him wearing a white coat and a mirror around his forehead) tells his parents that he can’t attempt a reversal operation because it would be “too tricky.” The best he can do is attempt to “move his balls a bit higher. ” They say, “Forget it,” and take him home.

4. They end up naming him Richie. I know, I know — but resist the temptation! It’s a subtle joke.

5. His parents try to make him unashamed of who he is, because they’re generally nice people who’ve been saddled with this problem, but after a disastrous first day at school they make Richie wear turtlenecks stretched up to the eyes.

6. Somewhere in there, mention how Richie can’t enjoy the taste of food because his nostrils point toward his own anus. Also, mention how emotionally crippling this would be. This is around the point where I typically start to have trouble.

7. Richie spends most of his teen years desperately trying to avoid anything even remotely stimulating in the erotic dep’t. For reasons which should be obvious. He therefore decides he’ll work in (a) the meatpacking industry; (b) rock quarrying; or (c) dentistry.

8. He’s got a best friend named Kenny Marrero who is somehow more emotionally mature than everyone else, and able to accept Richie’s deformity more than most people. Or more accurately, he’s revolted less than others. Maybe this is because Kenny Marrero’s parents divorced last year, when Kenny Marrero’s dad’s gambling addiction finally caught up with the family finances and Kenny Marrero and his mom had to move out of their home and into an apartment right above a Chinese food restaurant, where Kenny Marrero has become friendly with the chefs and gets food from them all the time because his mother has become too clinically depressed to do any meal-making herself, having been horribly unlucky in romance her whole life including now. Come to think of it, maybe we should lose the whole Dickfaced Boy angle and make the story about Kenny Marrero instead.

9. Stuff happens in the middle of the story. It should be satirical about society’s prudishness toward male genitalia, yet a warm-hearted fable about accepting outsiders, and a tale of a boy’s budding sexuality mixed with stark overtones of repression, and should be funny enough to make people choke on their spit a little and very dramatic. As for what this stuff is that happens, I don’t know. Also, it should be exciting.

10. It ends with Richie’s funeral. There’s pretty much no better way to end a story. You get all the characters in one room again, and all the ones who didn’t like him get to regret all the times they called him Richie the Dickfaced Boy. I’m not sure how he died — he either was tragically (a) squashed by a cow carcass in the meatpacking plant, (b) crushed by stone in a suspicious rock-quarrying mishap, or (c) shot by a crazed dental patient because the guy glimpsed Richie’s facewanker stirring under the surgical mask during a routine cleaning. His girlfriend is there — I forgot to mention her before, but she’s important — and all his friends and family. Here’s the kicker: It’s an open casket, and he’s not wearing his turtleneck. Defiant to the last! Write an award-winning speech for this. And the priest, who had at some point earlier in the story told Richie that his deformity must have been a mark of the devil, recants and says to the assembled crowd, “Even though Richie’s nose and penis were put on backward, his heart was always in the right place.”