gall and gumption

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Boob Job Number Four

She always admired big breasts, thought they were the sexiest thing, but unfortunately didn't have them. So the first chance she got silicon implants. Scar tissue grew around them and they had to be removed. So then she got the saline implants and they were bigger, which was great, but they were too far apart. So then she got another set of even bigger implants. They were so big that they caused ripples, and, besides, one of her new breasts was dented on the side. Hence the need for Boob Job Number Four.

That was the first case I watched on what seemed to be some kind of plastic surgery makeover marathon on The Discovery Channel last night. The four chapters in the Boob Job Odyssey were illustrated with photographs that were blurred slightly so no nipples were visible, which -- I don't know. I suppose we are all a bit insane really. And people can calmly sit and watch these photographs of these grotesque misshapen fake tits, they'll munch on pizza while they watch lumps of fat lifted out of someone's buttock and tossed across the operating theater, but if they see a nipple in a program about breast surgery, their hair catches on fire.

I sat there and thought, it'll end after the next one. But then there would be another case, and the thing is the stories were interesting. This very nice girl with, unfortunately, a 38FF bust. She wanted hers reduced. But that one got me thinking -- what ever happened to those bossy and slightly grim, smartly dressed older ladies who used to work in the lingerie section of department stores? When you were shopping for a bra they'd say, "That's not for you," like it was a command. Then they'd sort of look at you for a moment -- sizing you up hahaha -- and then grab a couple off the rack and order you to go try them on. Because if that woman on that show was a 38 anything I really have no idea what I'm doing when I go shopping for bras. I mean this thing threw my whole bra sizing theory overboard. I'm in a state of deep doubt now.

Then there was the woman whose fiance had died suddenly two years ago. She was 52, and she always thought she was plain but he always said she was beautiful just the way she was, and then he died. The thing is that even though the woman never completely believed him when he said it, and he had been dead for two years, I never doubted for a minute that he meant it. I was fully persuaded that this woman and her fiance had one of those relationships that works, that they really coexisted, had unity and love. And it was so sad that she had lost him. "I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with him," she said. So she got a face lift and it made her feel attractive and like she could get back in the game, so to speak. More power to her, I say.

I watched about four of these little dramas and began to think there would be no end to it all. I finally fled from the prospect of the little girl with a gigantic growth on her head.

I know there's a smart way to watch TV but I can't remember what it is. I don't watch it a lot, lately I can barely make it through an episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent. Early last year, when I was unemployed and terrified and seriously homesick for oh heck any place but here, I watched those crime shows, one a night, because they were good for an escape. And there is always a rerun of one of them on somewhere. The other show that always seems to be on in reruns somewhere is Friends. i have never understood the appeal of this show. I have never been able to watch an entire episode, no, I've never been able to watch five minutes of it. I flip the channels and there's the apartment the size of Belgium and there's one or more of the -- Jesus, I don't even know how many of them there are -- pert young white people around whom the universe revolves and I want to throw a brick through the box. It amazes me how little there is to watch on all those channels.

OK so two weekends at the bottom of the TV universe don't make a trend. But if it did it would be a bad trend. I'm not sure why I'm even doing it. It's not like I have the time. It feels a bit like resting and maybe that's what it's about. But because I am a worrier of course I go looking for the darkest explanation: my brain is melting and this is the onset of senility.

I thought of this George Herbert poem (I really did! This is what I do!), "The Forerunners" (Caution: slightly annoying background music, hit the mute button before you go):

The harbingers are come. See, see their mark;
White is their colour, and behold my head.
But must they have my brain? must they dispark
Those sparkling notions, which therein were bred?
Must dulnesse turn me to a clod?

I have one grey hair and I like it. But I would just as soon put off being a clod for a while.


At 9:55 AM, Blogger Doc Nebula said...

Roy Edroso sent me here from his fine alicublog. Girl, you got game. I write well, but people like you and Roy write the way the Tom Cruise character in COLOR OF MONEY shoots 9 ball.

I admire my betters, so I'll stick around and peruse more of your work.

As to the awful TV, as with nearly anything round here that puts parts of the brain to sleep for a while, it's a compulsion that can quickly become an addiction. I try to limit my TV watching to fictional stuff that is actually crafted well, as I like to delude myself I'm learning how to write better from every pop culture artifact I consume. But that's merely my rationalization, you can probably come up with something better.

HEROES is on tonight. Not that I'm recommending it; in fact, I've nearly given up on it, as you can see in more detail at my blog, if you've a mind to.

At 11:04 AM, Blogger chuckling said...

We are the last family in the continental U.S. that doesn't have cable, and our reception is poor, so for those and other reasons I don't watch a lot of television. If a show is good, I typically find out about it during its fourth or fifth year and catch up on the re-runs.

And when I do end up liking a show, it's usually about the last thing people who know me would expect. The biggest example of that is American Idol. Of course I don't like it for the music, but I find the human element and the overall story arc fascinating. Other than that, Ugly Betty is the only current show I'm aware of that's remotely interesting.

But for you, judging from your enviably literate internet persona, I'd recommend Buffy the Vampire Slayer (another of those shows no one could have predicted I'd like). It's way more realistic (on a wacky metaphorical level at least) than those horrible crime shows.

At 2:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ultimate expression of the Nipple Fear occurred in a program on which a young transexual had reached the stage of gender reassignment at which breasts were to be installed. During the entire preoperative segment the patient's boyish torso was displayed sans pixillation. But once bags of salt water had been implanted, it was deemed necessary to blur the nipplear area. This seemed particular outlandish in the side-by-side before and after shots.

At 5:32 PM, Blogger Kia said...


Leave a link!


Your habit sounds kind of like mine. I always seem to like reruns best. I remember being addicted to reruns of Dallas when I was in grad school. And (I blush to say it) Quincy, which for some reason I found very funny. Would Klugman get all the good lines and deliver them in a throaty passionate shout or a throaty passionate whisper? Yes. It never failed. I was never disappointed.

At 7:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lordy, Kia. I’ve occasionally caught episodes of DHC Plastic Surgery: Before & After, including the boobs-o-rama you mention. As a nurse, I do have some professional rather than purely voyeuristic curiosity about this stuff, but then I also live in L.A., where it’s a conversational staple---and indeed experience---by no means solely limited to rising starlets (or falling stars) or midlife-crisis biz execs grasping white-fingered to the greasy pole while glancing anxiously downward at those junior up-and-comers nipping at their Kenneth Coles.

The woman you mentioned who got a facelift because “it made her feel attractive and like she could get back in the game” is the rule rather than the exception for many citoyens of Day-of-the-Locustville. A slide under the knife at the local nip/tuck emporium is as routine as an annual buff-and-shine at your friendly dentist's. On every third page or so of the current issue of L.A. Weekly, there’s an ad for The Beverly Hills Cosmetic Surgical Group (Breast Augmentation: $2999; Facelift $3200) or the Epione Medical Corporation (Stretch Mark Removal with the Speed of Light) or the Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation Institute of Los Angeles (Designer Laser Vaginoplasty for the Aesthetic Enhancement of the Vulvar Structures), often poignantly nestled cheek to jowl with come-ons for treatment of dah blooze (Depressed? Please call Southwestern Research, Inc. toll-free to see if you may qualify for an important research medication program).

In short, this is a city where “looksism” is not a feminist term of opprobrium but an honorific for a kind of pragmatic idealism, a belief that reshaping flesh and bone to some Platonic archetype of perfection will at last make our Constitutionally guranteed pursuit of happiness a little less strenuous (although the goal of that pursit remains oddly elusive).

Ordinary schlubs who don’t have the money, the time, or simply the interest to play the gorgeouser-than-thou lottery aren’t even microblips on the social radar, and since they all live in Compton or Bellflower anyway, who gives a fuck? If the Brad Pitt clone waiting tables at Morton’s or the J-Lo knockoff styling hair in Westwood represent the average in the hotness sweepstakes, then the bar has to constantly be set higher and higher to help the players keep that competitive edge. “The ideal beauty is a fugitive which will never be found,” says Joan “I now wear my navel on my forehead” Rivers, who should know.

The ostensible squeamishness about showing us those nips was not, I think, just another variation on the freakish residual Puritanism (despite a hypereroticized pop culture) that continues to make us the laughing stock of civilized countries everywhere. That Janet Jackson's wardrobe failure could have provoked the nationwide Titgate it did is just cause for embarrassment, but although I assume the patients in this case waived many of their HIPPA privavcy rights, the producers may nonetheless have acted out of a (not entirely misplaced) "chivalry" to shield these women from the inevitable contingent of sniggering schoolboys out there in TVLand, some of whom may be mistaken for mature adults in real life. Or they may not have wanted to listen yet again to the crazed howls of Jesus jackbooters who could threaten to fatwah their advertisers for endorsing full-on displays of God's handiwork in all its prurience-inducing glory.

And, oh, the TV thang. It’s not incipient senility, dear lady, it’s the medium itself, whose message (per McLuhan) is “It’s not like you were using your brain that much anyway, so shut up and relax.” Casual viewing habits can shade into intractable addictions. . . said The Voice of Bitter Experience. It was briefly possible back in the 60’s to believe with the Oracle from Toronto that the tube would help liberate us from the confines of our 40’ by 100’ demesnes into a unified albeit virtual “global village” of shared hopes and values. In pre-cable days when the Big Three nets held absolute dominion over the airwaves, John Leonard could claim that the TV was the only form of cultural continuity we had, since almost everyone could tell you the plot of the latest episode of Hawaii Five-0 or All in the Family.

Now we recognize that, as Bruce told us all along, it’s 57 channels and nothing on. Or rather, here at chez moi at the insistence of He Who Shall Remain Nameless, it’s all 160 channels plus the entire premium package, and but 95% of it is still shit---all on a room-swallowing 58-inch hi-def Moloch.

I never liked Friends either---all these whiney narcissists and their lame-ass problems. One reason the sit-com is dying is because it's got this airless, oppressive Kabuki vibe---those living-room couches and dining-room tables all belong in the same suburbia of the mind. And these fucking game shows---100 to 1, Deal or No Deal, with people barking and applauding like trained seals. American Idol is obscene---I'd rather let my kids watch a Brazilian snuff film. I do like Extras, The Office, 30 Rock, The Daily Show, Democracy Now! on FSTV, and the occasional episode of Real Time with Bill Mahar, but I know that I spend way too much time drifting in a pixilated semi-coma while scoping this stuff when I should be reading Pynchon’s new novel, which has been crying out that attention must be paid as it’s languished in pristine isolation on my bedside table for a month now.

Although I bitch about the shrinking attention spans of the multitasking gen-Z'ers, in terms of powers of concentration, I’m really not in much better shape than they are. While I suspect I have a few more gray hairs than you, I also suspect that I have less functional gray matter and that “dullnesse” has settled like a permanent fog into what few operative neurons I still possess upstairs. Indeed, every day I feel myself edging closer to “The Old Fools” in Larkin’s poem:

Do they somehow suppose
It's more grown-up when your mouth hangs open and drools,
And you keep on pissing yourself, and can't remember
Who called this morning? . . . .
Or do they fancy there's really been no change,
And they've always behaved as if they were crippled or tight,
Or sat through days of thin continuous dreaming
Watching the light move?

Like almost everyone else in my generation, I’ve succumbed to an insidious form of creeping embourgeoisement and thus become a willing accessory to my own Herbertian clodification. I still go on the occasional protest march in the name of the Good Cause, still open my house to people who have a fire in their gut to change the world (most recently a group of people who were going to Mozambique and Zimbabwe on a humanitarian mission), but of course I could do more. First step? Maybe unplug that damn TV (and face some Category 5 pouting from He Who Shall Remain Nameless).

Sorry to run off at the mouth like this, but that's what you get for being so thought-provoking.

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