“You got some tits there, buddy?”
“A little bit,” I reply with a smirk. As if I’m not just okay with this fact, but I’m actually happy about it.
Meanwhile, in my head I’ve just reset the ‘It’s been XX days since someone last noticed my man boobs (moobs)’ clock to zero.
Every time it happens, I’m taken back to ninth-grade swimming class. In those days I wore an oversized Ghost in the Machine t-shirt in the pool to try and conceal my shame. Not that it worked. The fact that I had a shirt on only meant that I had something to hide.
Plus, wearing a Ghost in the Machine t-shirt while swimming is about as cool as wearing a Ghost in the Machine t-shirt while doing anything else. Suffice to say I didn’t score any points with the ladies that semester.
Sophomore year I joined the wrestling team and lost a good amount of weight. I did thousands of sit-ups, which flattened my stomach. I ran hundreds of miles, which defined my thighs and calves. I did countless push-ups…
But I still had moobs. Somehow they persisted atop my growing pectoral muscles. And when pre-season training was over, I was terrified that putting on a singlet would cause me to resemble one of the Baywatch girls. (Not C.J. or Caroline, mind you – I’m not that well-endowed – but I could certainly give Stephanie a run for her money.)
Fortunately, the fact that I was terrible at wrestling seemed to overshadow any issues my teammates had with my chest. Going forward, I stuck to sports that didn’t involve locker rooms or shirt removal.
I wore a three-piece suit to dances (protip: a vest is a very classy way to hide your moobs). If necking in a girlfriend’s basement, I’d make every reasonable effort to keep my shirt on (though I would never out and out refuse to take it off). And should I end up at a graduation party with a pool, I simply wouldn’t swim.
I prayed that this whole thing was all just part of adolescence – that as soon as my beard came in they’d shrink or form into muscle… they could simply fall off for all I cared (who needs nipples?).
Then in college I developed a sort of faux confidence about it. If some drunk dude at a party took notice of the lumps in my shirt, I’d fire off some anti-climactic response. My favorite? To lean in and say, “Go ahead, touch one. They’re real.”
While the guy laughed (or furrowed his brow and called me a fag), my insides would pound with embarrassment. But hey, aside from actually being okay with my body, I couldn’t really think of a better way to handle it. Still can’t.
I’d love to believe what my mom has always told me – that there’s nothing wrong with my body and I should be happy with it as is. But in my mind, there is, and I’m not.
Don’t get me wrong – if it wasn’t for my moobs, I’d probably focus on the fact that my nose is really porous… and my feet are hairy… and the flat stomach I cultivated as a wrestler ten years ago is now more of a pooch.
But thankfully, I’ve got bigger tits to fry.