John Bobbitt:
Immortalized Through Verbification

It’s really hard to coin a word. I tried it in the 17 July 1994 issue:

I’ll See You After School

Debi Mercer, 42, the wife of the Yamhill County (Ore.) district attorney, pleaded guilty last week to charges of sexual abuse and official misconduct when it was discovered that she had kissed a 14-year-old boy she was supervising in school detention. The boy, who is now 16, told investigators that the two had engaged in sexual relations both on and off school grounds for the past two years, and that she had performed oral sex on him. In a plea bargained sentence, Mercer avoided jail time but is on 30 days’ house arrest, five years’ probation, must pay $2,500 for psychological therapy for the boy, and must stay away from boys under 18. (RC/AP) …Surely a 42-year-old man caught with a 14-year-old girl would have been Bobbitized.

Bobbitt back in the day (1990s) and in a screencap from the 2019 Amazon Prime four-part “docuseries,” Lorena. There should be no surprise that he developed a habit of crossing his legs. (Photo left: “Dirty Bob” — a porn reviewer. Right: IMDB.)

Easy Come, Easy Go

I hadn’t heard the term when I wrote the story, and couldn’t be sure if I was first — text searches were next to impossible in 1994. But later (once Google finally came along, and improved to the point where it was useful), I found that it was too obvious and had previously been used by others.

The term refers, of course, to the oh-so-aptly-named John Bobbitt, whose wife Lorena cut off his penis on June 23, 1993, because, she said, he selfishly “wouldn’t give her [an] orgasm.”

Lesson learned for guys: pay more attention to your woman!

It’s tough to coin a new word — at least for the first time.

Update: You Can’t Make This Stuff Up!

Mrs. Bobbitt testifying in 1995, and in a screencap from the 2019 docuseries. (Both photos via IMDB.)

Both John Bobbitt and his wife Lorena both went on trial: him for alleged marital rape, and she for malicious wounding. After conflicting testimony, John was found not guilty.

Lorena was also found not guilty “by reason of insanity causing an irresistible impulse to sexually wound John” after years of abuse. Virginia law required the judge to order her to undergo a 45-day evaluation period at Central State Hospital, which is located located in Petersburg (no, really!)

In 1995, the couple was granted a divorce. John went on to start a rock band “The Severed Parts” (no, really!), which was unsuccessful (gee: do you think he might have had trouble getting bandmates — and gigs?!), and then had a brief career in “adult” movies. In the late 90s, he moved to Las Vegas and worked as a bartender, limo driver, mover, pizza delivery driver, tow-truck operator — and an officiant at a Universal Life Church wedding chapel. Yeah, really.

Lorena, who was born in Ecuador, was uncomfortably thrust into public view. “All of a sudden, my private life is out in the open and it’s an open book and a lot of people know my history,” she told CBS’s The Early Show in 2008. “Sometimes I couldn’t even go to the grocery store to buy food because I would be recognized.” She worked as a real estate agent and hairdresser, and said she was in a long-term relationship with a different man, and had a daughter with him. She also founded Lorena’s Red Wagon to reach out to abused women to help them get counseling.

Last, there’s also a “Bobbit [sic] worm” (no, really! — Eunice aphroditois), an underwater predatory polychaete worm so named because its “outstretched jaws resemble scissors” and “are ambush predators.” (Source). It, also, is a colorful character.

3 Comments on “John Bobbitt:
Immortalized Through Verbification

  1. I’ve probably been a reader since early 1994, and I remember reading this story about the teacher and her student, and chuckling over your applying the term “Bobbetized” to it. It was just so right, the perfect comment because you’re right: a man would have been “Bobbetized”! I hadn’t heard the term before that (but immediately knew the reference and appreciated it for that.)
    Your use of language is one of the things I really like about TRUE: you don’t talk down to readers, dumbing down your writing so “everyone” can understand it. It works on a lot of different levels (similar to the old Warner Bros. cartoons), and I wanted you to know that some of us out here do get it!

  2. For awhile, another word was making the rounds, eg. providing a monica, as they might say in White House terminology.

    With, one would presume, a very long “M”! -rc

  3. Hmmm. Did you know that Monica is already 31 years old? It seems like just yesterday when she was crawling around the White House on her hands and knees.

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