Things I learned from two silly party hats
(or, an awareness of the absurdities of gender)
The other evening, I went to a birthday party for my friend Lee. There were friends and co-workers there, and friend’s kids, music, and a big birthday cake and drinks, munchies, streamers and silly conical party hats on cheap elastic strings.
Everyone put a party hat on, and we all looked like clowns or tie-dyed traffic cones. One guest’s son was there, and he put two on his head like horns. This gave me an idea, as things often do, and I grabbed two conical party hats and dashed off to the bathroom.
I secured the cheap elastic cords onto the edges of the cardboard, and carefully squirmed my way through the elastic bands until I had two paper cones on my chest, like Madonna’s infamous costume brassiere.
With my cardboard breasts securely in place, I went back and rejoined the party. Everyone laughed as I approached, and there were lewd comments, of course, and the occasional grab or photo-opportunity licking of my fake breasts.
Over the next hour and a half, though, I got to experience a few things that I hadn’t even considered, and which I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to experience. I mentioned these to a female guest, who shook my hand and said, “Miles, welcome to our world!”
Hey, my eyes are up here!
When I was talking to people with my fake cardboard breasts on, their eyesight was inevitably locked on my chest. I know I’ve done the same thing when talking to women. But what I hadn’t expected was my inner reaction. “Hey! How the hell do I know you’re even listening to me if you won’t look me in the eye and acknowledge what I’m saying?” I felt that people regarded my words, my thoughts, as less important than the opportunity to stare at my chest. That was, I realized, somewhat insulting to my intelligence as well as to their own.
This bra strap is NOT comfortable!
The two thin elastic cords were never designed, of course, to stretch around a man’s torso. Head, yes. Ribcage, no. So they were somewhat tighter than originally designed. And I was VERY aware of the constant pressure on the back of my ribcage and under my arms, of this annoying strip of elastic. I found myself constantly reaching around back to move the cords to a slightly new position, or just pinch under my armpits to offer a slightly different physical sensation than constant irritating pressure. Wow.
I am a very huggy person – I’ll hug anyone. But with two silly cardboard cones sticking out the front, hugging, or physical proximity at all, suddenly became concern, and I was running a constant proximal evaluation, ‘How can I safely hug this person’, ‘Can I fit between these two people to get to the bar,’ ‘Damn, I almost put her eye out!.’
I had to resort to positioning myself at a sort of three-quarter-profile position so that my cardboard conical breasts would not get in the way of my actually hugging someone. Lee’s girlfriend Angela did hug me ‘full frontal’, and the sharp cardboard cone almost pierced her clavicle! I’m glad none of Lee’s friends were below a certain height.
And along with the constant mental juggling of where I would or would not fit with my new expanded chest, was the awareness that trying to bring my drink to my lip, I had to swing OUT and AROUND this new interference to get anything accomplished. Wow, how irritating that soon became, And I only had them on for 90 minutes, not an entire adult existence.
My fake breasts were intended as a laugh, a quick party gimmick, but they actually taught me more in an hour and a half than I had imagined they might. They did not have the actual weight or swing of real breasts, and I did not have to deal with any considerations such as back pain or tissue damage, but they did teach me a lot about what women have to go through every single day.
I like breasts, but no I don’t plan on getting that sex change operation any time soon.