Some Walk By Night

February 25, 2008 at 6:49 pm | Posted in Essays | 4 Comments


Last week I had the great honor of seeing Baby Perk Is a Beast get his first glimpse of celebrity boobs. 

Though not yet capable of sitting up on his own, the little guy managed to log on to the Internet and find the nude pictures of Lindsey Lohan in New Yorker magazine.  They grow up so quick!

Like Baby Perk Is a Beast, I too was thrilled to learn about the Lohan shots.  But as often happens, the thrill of the chase kind of exceeded the payoff.  It turns out that Lindsey Lohan’s boobs look like…boobs. 

This night with Baby Perk Is a Beast and Firecrotch got me thinking a bit about boobs.  Though in truth, almost everything gets me thinking a bit about boobs. 

So yesterday while bored, I hit the Internet Wayback Machine and found this essay that I’d written a couple years ago for the Wall Street Journal Op/Ed page on this very subject. 

It is called “Some Walk By Night”.  It is mediocre.  And it is posted after the jump.  Check it.

Some Walk By Night, 2004   

If you were to line up every female I came in contact with between 1986 and 1992, I could easily identify them by their boobs alone.

My best friends’ mothers, the eighth-grade German exchange students, and all of my cousins, sisters, and aunts.  Each member of the junior high basketball team my father coached to an undefeated season.  Our stern gym teacher Ms. Chestnut and our chipper English teacher Ms. Duffy — two women whose boobs and names together said much about their respective stern and chipper demeanors.

During those years, school, family, and friends were mere distractions from the true purpose of existence — staring at boobs.  Decorum and the P.C. movement had not yet polluted my mind, so I felt no need to conceal my fascination with the mysterious bumps suddenly growing on my classmates’ chests.  While Madame Jensen and her hand puppet Georgie taught our eighth-grade French class to conjugate verbs, I was begging Jill Estes to manifester me her mamelles.

Such earnest requests seemed completely reasonable.  Jill and I sat next to each other, after all, so we were hardly strangers.  In fact, the two of us were friends, and asking Jill to lift her shirt and expose herself seemed no different than asking to borrow a quarter during lunch.  I was sincere beyond my years.

But time and again, Jill refused my wishes.  I would accept her courteous rejections while watching little red tennis balls bounce across her Lawrenceville Tennis Academy T-shirt.  She was patient and kind, with a supple bosom that I would never see.  I wanted it badly.

Trivial classroom matters like photosynthesis and the Constitution bore no relevance on life back then.  All I wanted to learn about and understand was where the nipple began.  From the moment Mom dropped me off in the blue Safari van, my schoolday was spent leering down shirt-sleeves and low hanging collars.  Nothing provided greater satisfaction than those rare moments, when every variable in the universe converged to allow a clear sight line of boob.

But despite tank tops, gym class push-ups, and direct horny appeals, my starving eyes never met the elusive nipple.  It was the Moby Dick of my childhood.

cybill1.jpgCybill Shepherd owned some of my favorite boobs from that era.  I still recall them fondly whenever I hear Al Jarreau’s “Moonlighting” theme song or even when I see someone who vaguely resembles Al Jarreau.

Helplessly smitten by Shepherd, I spent hours in front of the bathroom mirror practicing Bruce Willis’s crooked smirk.  It seemed logical that if I could master his charm, I could one day win the affections of his co-star.  We’d meet by chance at the Shop-Rite deli counter, and my well-rehearsed smile would melt away our 30-year age differential.  Cybill Shepherd would have no choice but to show me her boobs — a fine reward for all those hours of hard work.

Today’s youth knows nothing about hard work, as the Internet has made such yearning a thing of the past.  They’ll never experience the character-building pain of watching hours of scrambled Playboy channel, waiting for one clear shot of skin. With a simple Google search, most children could likely find pictures of a naked Cybill Shepherd urinating on a dancing cat.  But I grew up in a far more innocent, primitive era.

Though I never met Shepherd, she did respond to a fan letter I wrote, praising her genius portrayal of the sexy, uptight detective Maddie Hayes.  I suggested we collaborate on a few scripts I’d been writing during my free time between trombone lessons and masturbation. 

Her reply, a glossy photograph with an authentic fake signature, arrived in a 6-by-8 envelope.  As I removed the picture, the first thing I saw was her glamorous, golden, L’Oreal-enhanced mane of hair.  Further down, Cybill’s flirting eyes dared me to proceed.  Keep pulling, you sexy bastard.  Free me from this manila confinement.  I’ve been waiting.

There was Cybill’s nose.  And her pursed lips.  Cybill’s chin, followed by a slender neck that kept going and going and mother of God where was it going?  There were no clothes in sight.

Bare shoulders and a heavenly collarbone and I was getting lightheaded but still pulling her out of the envelope, and Holy Christ I was down to the top of Cybill’s chest and seeing cleavage and soon there would be nip — but damn you, Cybill Shepherd, damn you!  And damn the piece of lavender cloth wrapped around those nipples.  I did not sleep well that night.

It wasn’t until late in high school that I began to filter some boobs out of my life — an adjustment made by necessity rather than choice.  Had I not learned to be more selective with my ogling, nothing would have gotten accomplished.  But this hardly diminished boobs’ influence over me.  To this day, I’m unable to pass a magazine rack without taking at least five minutes to browse through its contents.  I’ve tried to convince myself that this habitual viewing of the world’s periodicals is essential to my calling as a story-teller.  I need to know what’s happening out in the world; what others are writing about.

But truthfully, it’s the boobs that lure me in.  Magazines are filled with great ones, which are cataloged and filed away with the other boobs already stashed in my brain.  Together, they live happily, gathering on occasion for a pot-luck dinner or a political roundtable discussions.  

Jennifer Anniston’s from each episode of the first three seasons of “Friends.”  Every distinguished rack from Penn State’s 1994 Women’s Volleyball team, and each cast of MTV’s Real World.  The young, perky breasts of every college girl I supervised as a manager at Abercrombie and Fitch.  I miss them.

fuentes.jpgThis sorority was recently joined by Daisy Fuentes’s boobs during a quick stop at the grocery store for milk.  There I stood at the magazine rack, almost 30-years-old and mesmerized by Stuff magazine.  My brain immediately began to plot a new course for my life that would somehow conclude comfortably in Daisy Fuentes’ warm bosom.  I might as well have been the incapacitated boy in Madame Jensen’s class.

I remember a pair of breasts I saw riding the Green Line a couple years ago.  Across from me sat a quiet couple that looked like they’d just returned from a relaxing weekend in Nantucket.  The woman wore a peach sundress with a cardigan sweater hanging over her shoulders.  Its sleeves were tied in a perfect knot with perfect symmetry.  Her hair was pulled back in a perfect ponytail, held in place by a white ribbon tied in another perfect knot.

The man next to her wore glasses that commanded respect.  He stabbed away at his Palm Pilot with controlled fury while his spouse read from a perfectly-bound book.  A pair of perfect pearl earrings sat peacefully in her ears like two well-behaved children riding along in the backseat.  Both man and woman appeared to be in their early 40s, and their eyes were very dead.

At Kenmore Square, a vibrant young blond boarded the train, wearing a long skirt and turquoise shirt that gave its audience a dignified view of each bodily contour.  She stood between myself and the couple from Nantucket — her presence shattering the dull familiarity that accompanies morning commutes.  We had seen many boobs on the Green Line before.  But we had never seen these boobs.

The man was visibly shaken.  The precision with which he’d worked away at his Palm Pilot suddenly disappeared.  He fought to avoid staring, but couldn’t stop peeking up from those Perry Ellis glasses — distracted and tortured by the gentle ebb and flow of her incredible rack as it swayed to the vibration of the rails.  This stranger would make the man reconsider everything he’d previously come to understand and expect from life.  Her boobs would stay with him long after he kissed his wife goodbye — through conference calls and power lunches and whatever other things are done by people with pricey eyewear.

His wife was equally shaken, torn between resentment, jealousy, and admiration.  I doubt she shared the carnal desires seething inside her husband and I.  But she lost all focus on her book.  There was nothing wrong with her own chest.  However, it failed to meet the perfection of her manicured nails and the straight line parting her hair.  For the rest of her commute, the otherwise-perfect wife would stare and imagine how it would feel to wear those perfect boobs.  Painted nails and well-maintained hair cannot throw a train on its ear.  Such power is reserved solely for tits.

Why is this?  How can mankind be tossed so far off kilter by two blobs of fat punctuated by a cap of skin that’s no more attractive than a clam’s foot?  I spent my life in pursuit of these objects, only to discover they do little more than hang and look attractive — which they obviously do quite well.

But boobs are no more functional than a pet rock.  Boobs have never helped anyone change a tire or balance their checkbook.  And they can’t prevent that awful screeching noise the ironing board makes every time it’s unfolded.

Granted, boobs may have uses for which I’m unaware.  I don’t profess to have much experience with them aside from many years of distant observation.  Perhaps there is a world of perverse and practical activities that are ideally suited for them.  But my most adventurous encounters with boobs have all been predictable and mainstream.

A virgin in my theatre class was one of the few girls in college that granted me access to her boobs.  I was extremely grateful.  Despite her chastity, she had a passion for accepting my gratitude on her well-endowed chest.  Her enthusiasm for this act was rather kinky, though I could never tell if she truly enjoyed it or if it was simply a more palatable alternative to intercourse.

Hers were the largest boobs I have ever dealt with, and among the least significant.  We only carried on for a couple months before parting ways.  Theatre girl would eventually get married and become a doctor in Pittsburgh.  I would become many things and marry a girl with much smaller boobs. 

I never expected that to happen, given the high priority I’d placed on boob size throughout my life.  Yet strangely enough, those with the most lasting impact on me have all been quite small.

My wife’s boobs are generally small.  Depending on where she is in the menstrual cycle, they can vary from almost non-existent to almost medium-sized.  But the extremes at both ends always stay within the small family.  Observing this fluctuation has made hers the most interesting set of boobs I’ve ever experienced.  We’ve shared many good times together, and I love them as I love her.

Nonetheless, I can’t help but worry that one day, I’ll be approached by an enormous pair of boobs that will invite me to drop everything and run to Mexico with them.  Should that occur, I hope that reason and my deep commitment to marriage will prevail.  However, I cannot be sure they will.

Her boob size is among the many disturbing similarities that Ashlee shares with my mother.  I’ve heard that my mother once had average boobs, but that was a long time ago.  Since then, the life and size has been sucked out of them by my two sisters and I. 

breastfeed.gifThat’s a difficult burden for a boy to carry for his entire life.  When brought into the world, you are forced to rely on boobs, and the closest set belongs to your mom.  Survival depends upon sucking your mother’s tits.  Deal with that for the next 90 years.

Obviously our infantile dependence on boobs sets the foundation for this enduring obsession.  Life begins with such ease. Suck tits and sleep, suck tits and sleep.  Then reality sets in during your second or third year and it’s all downhill.  Never again will crying or tantrums prompt someone to shove a nipple in your mouth.  The pursuit of boobs becomes antagonizing and frustrating, relieved only by occasional victories.  If you’re lucky, you live long enough to be reduced to the infant you once were.  You become helpless and you crap yourself.  You grasp onto railings to avoid falling down.  But this time around, no one gives you a boob.  And that is a significant difference.

The first boobs I touched were also very small.  We were making out in the backseat of their owner’s Ford Taurus, parked behind my grandfather’s condominium.  I sat with her lying across me — her head in my lap, her eyes gazing into mine.  We were very in love at that moment.

She wore a white button-down shirt, which was ideal.  There would be no fumbling or navigating in areas I could not see. This was the moment I had worked my entire life for, and I fully understood the gravity of the situation.  When I finally unhinged her bra, I watched with awe as the lust rushed to the tips of her boobs.  I worked them with my finger in disbelief, wondering how long and full they could get.  Everything I’d ever wanted from life was right there in my hands, and it was as wonderful as I’d hoped.  I had arrived.

A hundred yards away in his condo, Pop-Pop watched the Yankee game, dipping toast into his evening coffee and damning the loss of his 90-year-old “tasters.”  Food did nothing for him anymore.  Neither did the Yankees.  He only had a few years left on Earth, but boredom had set in and he was ready to go.

When the girl and I were done in the Taurus, we went inside to say hello to Pop-Pop.  I wanted so badly to tell the old man what I had done.  With his boob days long gone, I’m sure he would have been proud that his dark, quiet parking lot helped his grandson get some.

Today I drive past that parking lot, and I think of those boobs and I think of Pop-Pop.  I almost wish he could’ve been in that backseat with us to cop one last feel before saying goodbye.



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  1. You are either a sad, strange man or a demented genius or both. Or maybe neither. Anyway, I like asses.

  2. Wow. That’s some essay. I mean that really was.

  3. i agree. i’m a really great writer. one of the best.

  4. […] fascination with slam dunks.  Writer Chris Ballard notes that just as some of us will never stop gawking at boobs, we’ll never outgrow our obsession with dunks.  “It’s part instinct, part the […]

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