Everyone has them but me. I realized this when I was 12 years old. It was the summer before eighth grade. I was walking along Broadway in Astoria with my mother when I saw them. They were wondrous. I lost all sense but sight, and all I could see were Tina Sharpe’s breasts coming right toward me. Each was the size of my fist, like I could cup my hands over them.
Tina was in my grade. She was four months younger than me, but she had breasts. Her boobs and the outline of her bra were clearly visible under her white tee. I looked at Tina’s face and she was smirking, maybe at my shocked staring, or maybe at my rainbow tube top that revealed I didn’t even have boobies, little mini-buds of hope. Or maybe she could see right into my brain and saw my thoughts of all the boy hands that would never cup anything on my chest, the boys who’d never line up at parties to play seven-minutes-in-heaven with me. Maybe Tina saw just as plainly as I did that no boobs = no bras, no boys, no life.
It wasn’t fair. Everyone around me had boobs. I knew because I spent the whole summer looking. The women in my family had boobs. Even some of the men in my family had boobs. My puberty and adolescence only delivered a moustache and body hair to rival my uncles’, but nothing up top that required more than a camisole.
Over the years, I’ve spent too much on Wonder Bras, the Miracle Bra, and various hair removal treatments. Now into my forties, I know I’ve achieved wondrous things even without the ta-tas of my dreams. All that bouncing would have annoyed me during years of marathon training and sent my lately-saggy girls further south than my top ribs. And one of the benefits of marriage is that heavenly minutes are not limited to seven or basement parties.
I’ve changed, even though my cup size never did. But I still stare at the boobs of my peers. It’s hard not to: the boobs are noteworthy, some of them large, and completely unrestrained. I don’t feel envy, but it’s not because I’m a bigger, more mature person. It’s because at this life stage, the boobs that inspire the most awe are the ones I see on the men.