Monday, June 23, 2008

We all have our little things. We hate our noses, or our hips or our gnarled third toe. Some things are niggling little bothers, while others keep us up at night, or worse, force us bolt-upright in bed as a pair of overactive man breasts smother us in a vivid nightmare.

Allow me to explain that.

When I was between ten and twelve I went through a phase. That prepubescent, doughy, round-featured experience where a No Shirts in the Pool policy could result in a pill-popping suicide attempt in the change room. As my bulky black shirt dragged me to the bottom of the pool, I was pacified by the anonymity it afforded my midsection. Adding insult to hypochondria, my sixth grade teacher told us about her son, who at 17 years old had begun developing breasts the way a young woman would. He would require full blown surgery to remove the tissue and stop the process. That or join the circus. As the words fell from her mouth, my heart sank. I was immediately convinced this was happening to me. I didn't sleep for months.

Luckily I didn't require a bra and experienced no significant or localized growth. This chubby phase only lasted a year or two, before I got much taller and downright rakish. But the residual effects remain; to this day I stand in front of the mirror testing different positions, different fabrics, determining the ways I can move that keep my breasts within the limits of decency. I'm being absolutely crazy, this I know, but it can't be helped. Childhood is cruel and ever-lasting.

I recently spat in the face of my fears and bought a clingy, heather-grey t-shirt. Anyone who has ever considered fabrics to the degree that I (or a Kathie-Lee Gifford sweatshop worker) have understands that this, next to white iridescent Lycra®, is the most dangerous in all the land. It wraps itself around your flaws and puts them on display as if lit under Oprah's studio grid. It leaves nothing to the imagination.

Needless to the say, after a couple of ballsy spins in public, the t-shirt was quickly relegated to the undershirt drawer, never again to be showcased solo. Perhaps I'll try again in a few years.


  1. YOU have nightmares about being smothered by overactive breasts?!

    I understand these irrational fears. It's funny, my friend and I were talking about these just the other day. When I was 10 I saw an episode of Montel (or Maury, or Sally - either way, very rebellious of me, given my upbringing) where they had guests who suffered from cherubism. Since then, I have an irrational fear that my bulbousy (?) face makes me look like I have cherubism.

  2. Thomas of Wash DCJune 23, 2008 at 11:24 PM

    I love this discussion... Ever since I was a child, I have been "underweight". I can remember getting upset with my cousin because he was able to wear "husky" size and I had to wear "slim". Throughout high school, I wore clothes that were too big...I wore the size I thought I should have been. It wasn't until I moved into the city-only a year ago that I decided to get clothes that were tailored. Slim is in! Unfortunately, I keep telling myself this but in the back of my mind, I question if my slim in...

  3. the only thing worse than the 'no shirts in the pool rule' for a chubby kid (speaking from ongoing experience) was the 'shirts and skins' option being agreed upon in phys. ed.!

    i wonder if club monaco will ever move from 'slim fit' to 'husky'...

  4. Umm...I'm pretty sure you're the Canadian version of me. Or something.

  5. I was terrified of wearing a bathing suit when I was 17. I was 5'8", 110 lbs. and still totally prepubescent. I too, was terrified of growing boobies. So I would go swimming in full on cargo pants and a tank top. Really.

  6. Kathleen - that sounds woefully inefficient. If I did that, my fear would transfer from man-breasts to sinking to the bottom.

    Thanks for writing!!