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What a Waste of a Beautiful Pair of Breasts
By Coley Sohn

That's what my mom said to me when I came out to her a little over ten years ago. It wasn't the first thing out of her mouth. That would be a shrill, dramatically extended, "Whhhaaaaatttt????" as she steered her car off to the shoulder so as not to get in an accident. I didn't mean to tell her over the phone but she left me no choice. When you live 3,000 miles apart and your mom calls constantly from her car phone -- I think that's what they had back in '94, car phones -- wanting to know who you're seeing and what happened to your neighbor Kenny you had such a crush on, and how come she hasn't heard a guy's name mentioned in well over a month? Frankly, she was asking for it.

It probably would've helped if I had figured things out in a more gradual manner. Growing up, I was quite the tomboy, wearing my hair real short, playing boys' parts in musicals, and swimming in nothing but a pair of cut-offs well past when I should have. I would've figured things out a hell of a lot sooner if it wasn't for my mother, Sandy, telling me when I was ten that she was worried I was going to grow up to be a lesbian. That was all it took. There was no way in hell I was going to grow up and become one of those. So I went the other way with vim and vigor. I became this boy crazy 'ho throughout junior high, high school, college, and my early 20s. I did such a fine job of quelling my mom's fears that I suppressed all the mad crushes I had on women over the years. I told myself that it was very normal. Young women are supposed to have feelings for other women. Intense, powerful, think-about-that-person-all-the-time-even-when-you're-having-sex-with-your-boyfriend feelings. Clearly, my mom's statement had quite an effect on me. And by the by, she does not remember saying it.

I digress. This is not about me coming out. It's about my boobs. My point was that during this initial conversation where I shocked the shit out of my meddling mother, she wistfully blurted out, "What a waste of a beautiful pair of breasts." Which is so wrong and so gross on so many different levels, I can't even get into it. It's easier to chalk it up to classic Sandy. Still, like her lesbian premonition she doesn't remember making, the waste of boobs prophecy was absolutely dead on.

My mom harps. I'm not sure if I've mentioned that. Since I was about 25, she's been pushing for me to get a mammogram. Breast cancer runs in the family. She hasn't been hit, surely thanks to all the different vitamins and supplements and herbs and mushrooms she carries around in her purse and pops on an hourly basis. Something has to offset the mini vodka bottles that live in her bag, too. Anyway, she's always reminded me to get checked. My boobs were big. Big supple low hanging D's. Which I never appreciated. First, I'm a smaller person. Second, I have a "little boy way" about me, as this homeless guy with a lot of foresight once put it.

Still, they were nice. Not worthy of all the hype my mom gave them, but they garnered their fair share of attention. In conversation, guys would always look me in the boob. It made me yearn for a smaller, more manageable set. I'd considered getting a reduction, but I'm a pretty firm believer in sticking with what you're given. I'm sure the thought of major surgery and heavy scarring didn't help. So I learned to hide them in loose clothing.

I think I put the whole mammogram thing off for a while to defy my mom. She bugs me sometimes. A lot of the time, really. Every six months or so, she'd ask if I'd gotten one. Not yet, Mom. I will. I swear.

My insurance through the Screen Actors Guild was running out and I was 34 and I figured, what the hey hey, time to go in for a "woman's wellness" exam as they call it. Especially while someone else is paying for it. I'm not a doctor person. I never go. I always thought of going as a big waste. My mom said that's what you hope for. That it's a waste. That's the point.

They asked me on the phone if I wanted a male or female doctor. I went for a lady. My mom had this creepy old gyno I saw as a teenager who left a very bad taste. He told me I "protruded in all the right places." Honest to god. And when I got home and reported back to my mom, she laughed. This is what I'm dealing with.

So the female doctor was cold and no-nonsense. She felt my boobs and all seemed fine. I joked about my paranoid mom pushing me to get a mammogram. Could we please just shut her up? So an appointment was made and the girls were pressed and photographed.

Before I got dressed, the techie instructed me to read this laminated piece of paper on the wall. Something about if you get called back in for another mammo, it's no big deal. Lot's of people get called back in. Okay. Did she see something questionable and felt compelled to point out the disclaimer? Or did she always point to the disclaimer? Surely, if it was on the wall all laminated like that, they wanted everyone to read it. No biggy. I went home, and called my mom at some point over the next few days to let her know I had the obligatory mammo and now she'd have to find something else to harp on me about. Done. I won. Moving on.

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