The Boobs That Didn’t Belong to Anybody

19 07 2010

An illuminating moment for me came at my post-op party. We called it a “boob party” and spent the night celebrating chests. Everyone brought magazine clippings or photos of chests and we pasted them on the wall in the stairwell. We kept a running list of all the euphemisms for chests we could think of on the whiteboard usually reserved for intra-apartment communications like We need milk and Has anyone seen my watch? and HEY GUYS I LET THE CATS PEE ON THE SOFA (just kidding it’s water).

At this party, every guest was invited to wear whatever made their chest feel good. Some went topless, some chose corsets—we even supplied glitter-encrusted adhesive craft foam for those who wanted to make pasties (the majority of our guests chose this option, which was just another sign that my life is nothing like what my guidance counselors envisioned).

These stayed up in the entryway for weeks after the party.

Decorations for the boob party.

I would have made a beeline for the craft foam myself, possessing the healthy appreciation for glitter that I do, but my nipples were hot off the press and couldn’t quite be trusted with that sort of freedom.

It was early in the night and several of us were still putting last touches on our outfits. I was elbows-deep in a closet, digging for one of my old corsets for a friend. My painstakingly selected ensemble was a black a-shirt (through which you could just make out the square outlines of my nipple gauze), jeans, and a plaid fedora to which I had, in a fit of audacity, affixed a pin that announced, “trannyfag.” Someone had convinced me to wear green eyeshadow. I felt fantastically queer.

This friend, the corset-borrower-to-be, waited patiently as I cursed my way through the disorganized piles of clothes. We talked about my scars and my stitches, the egg-yolk-yellow hotel room I recovered in, the difficulty of flying back from San Francisco while trying not to lift any bags heavier than 15 pounds, as per my surgeon’s instructions.

Finally, I found the corset, white and lacey and a little dusty. Having been worn to virtually every costume party from high school through college (as I’ve mentioned, I am not a creative costume-maker), the boning was contoured just as I had so recently been. I untied the laces and shook the last echo of my former shape out of the fabric.

My friend raised her arms and I wrapped her in the stiff satin corset. I muttered something, mock-cantankerously, about having to relace the whole damn thing to fit her thinner frame. She giggled, and I hoped it was because she felt pretty, with the lace hugging her hips and her shoulders bare.

This was taken two weeks after surgery.

The celebrated chest, minus gauze.

It was true; I did nearly have to relace the thing, since her waist is comparable to my thigh and her shoulders are about forty-three times more muscular. Running my fingers over the familiar eyelets, feeling medical tape crinkle and tug across my chest, I felt very aware of the cool air on my collarbone. My collarbone hadn’t seen fresh air in a year, hidden under binders and loose t-shirts. Air moving across my collarbone was so unexpected, it was almost frightening.

I thought then of my friend, the corset threatening to slip right past her hips to her ankles. I thought of her shopping around for electrologists while I’m working so hard to sprout just four hairs from skin that doesn’t even do peach fuzz. I thought of her shyer, deeper voice in contrast to my own ringing, melancholic, opera-trained, still so alien mezzo.

“It’s hard to relate,” I began somewhat absently, watching my formerly hourglass-shaped corset conform to her taut, upside-down-triangle torso.

“I want hair,” I continued. “You don’t want hair. I let it grow, you rip it all out. We want all opposite things.”

She looked at me like I had just tried to explain differential equations using a flipflop and a jar of peanut butter.

“I think we want the same thing,” she told me bluntly.

It felt as though the poles had shifted.

Her voice had warm finality in it. It said, “I have no problem relating to you.” It said, “You’re looking for freedom and I am, too.” It said, “Your tits aren’t my tits, and both of us have beautiful chests.”




14 responses

19 07 2010

sounds like a ridiculously good time. congratulations, by the way! and *very* nice chest.

21 07 2010

Thank you! I’m thinking of reprising the boob party on my chest’s tranniversary, it was so fun.

20 07 2010

This is absolutely beautiful. Thank you.

21 07 2010

Thank YOU.

20 07 2010

Hey, that party seems familiar somehow… 🙂

Just wanted to let you know I found your blog here, and to say hi. We should get together again sometime soon, yeah?

21 07 2010

Absolutely. Thanks for stopping by!

20 07 2010

To me, the thought of losing beautiful breasts, growing hair on your body, deepening your voice, etc., is ghastly. Just as you would most likely react to my intense desire for beautiful breasts, no body hair, and a higher voice.

This was a beautiful post, James and you are so fortunate to have such an understanding friend.

Calie xxx

21 07 2010

Thanks, Calie. This friend is a smart cookie. I’m very grateful to have her around.

20 07 2010

It doesn’t seem ghastly to me. That’s just how I like boys. 😉

Great post. I’m now a faithful reader…wish I had been before.

21 07 2010

I agree! I think female bodies are beautiful even though I wasn’t able to see mine that way. Thanks so much for reading!

20 07 2010

Great post, bro. Your chest turned out great!

21 07 2010

Thanks, man! I’m glad you stopped by!

21 07 2010

I like your party idea better than most surgery parties I’ve heard about/attended. Though I’m also not much of a costume maker, I love going places in costume. Nicely written – the ending is full of these lovely, deliberate pauses that give the piece room to breathe without sounding jerky.

26 07 2010

Thank you! I am always, always open to feedback about writing. Deliberate pauses in personal essays so often sound forced to me; I’m really glad you think they worked in this case.

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