I sashayed into the white office and lifted my bra with both anxiety and guilt. Why was I doing it? Was I committing a self-betrayal?
The whole reason for my being there in the office began in the womb but meant nothing until I tripped into pubescence and the vexing yet compelling dance of the birds and the bees.
I was a bit late to the dating game. Maybe it was my low self esteem, my 30 extra pounds, or my fascination with "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Maybe it was my insistence that every interaction with a boy had underlying sexual tension. Or maybe it was my fear of the day a boy would unclasp my bra and see them. All four of them.
How could I explain? How could I avoid embarrassment? I was a hormonal basket case with fluctuating confidence and a secret conviction that I was unattractive.
So it was only natural that I weaseled my way through high school with a sexual track record of a single kiss: a single kiss of tongue-twisted, uncomfortable, and ultimately failed maneuvers. I was probably to blame. Nonetheless, I had a tiny shred of experience to take with me to college.
Surprisingly, I snagged my first boyfriend freshman year. He was a track runner, and looked disturbingly like my dad when he smiled. (Luckily, I noticed this ipso facto.) There were rules though.
First, he wasn’t allowed to see me naked unless all the lights were off ... and it was dark outside ... and there were no candles ... and he had his eyes closed. Second, no glancing at my back or my stretch-mark-tattooed sides. And third, no caressing of the breasts unless advancing from the North. The third was probably the most important.
You see, I was fortunate enough to have four nipples. Granted the third and fourth were a good three inches below my primaries, and they were small. Sort of like two pink little moles. But I didn’t like them. They were abnormal, annoying and unattractive.
“What are those?” Boyfriend #1 asked.
“Umm ... nothing,” I lied brilliantly after a long pause. (I happen to be a fantastic fibber.)
“Are they moles or something?”
“Mm Hmm.” I nodded convincingly.
I fooled him, and I was so gosh darn clever, I almost fooled myself -- except not. I told him after a couple months though -- just before the fateful cherry pop -- in a garble of “OK I’m-gonna-tell-yous” and “Don’t-feel-awkwards” and “I-know-they’re-weirds” and “OK-here-it-goes.” I let it out, and the good news was he didn’t care. At all.
We lasted 10 months, my boyfriend, four nipples and me. A few weeks after the break-up, I told Boy #2. Easy peasy.
Then my current boyfriend breezed into my poetry class. I told him the first date (premature?) and, lo and behold, he didn’t care either. It was hunky dory, and I had grown to accommodate the stowaways of my cleavage. They had finally become part of the whole Caroline Package.
Turns out my little sister had the same issue. She, however, was 13, hated them, and wanted them gone -- just like I had. We had operations the same morning. It was a bonding thing, though a bit unconventional. Nonetheless, I laid down on the operating table.
The question I kept asking myself, though, was why I was removing the “nubbins” (compliments of Chandler from "Friends"). They didn’t bother me anymore, and I felt I had some obligation to keep them on my body, to prove to the world that I wasn’t scared, I wasn’t embarrassed.
But I didn’t prove anything.
I sat in the room, got my boobs numbed, and watched the surgeon’s face as she sliced ‘em off and stitched me up. As moral support for Little Sis, I watched the surgeon cut hers off too. I saw the rosy-bubbled breast tissue and the dissolvable stitches string in and out, all the while cracking jokes to distract my sister and pretend that the minor surgery wasn’t weird to watch.
My underboobs were bruised and a bit splotchy, but the 1.5 inch slits healed, the bruises faded, and so did any apprehension of divulging supernumerary nipples in the future.
Yet here I am: a 20-year-old with two measly nipples, thin lines that resemble those of a boob job, and I sort of miss them. What would you have done?