“I’ve wanted to do this for a long time now,” she said. But, it went without saying, she couldn’t arrange for this kind of surgery until she had insurance that would cover it. Despite the fact that it was obviously medically necessary.
“I think it’s a good idea,” I said.
“Yeah. I mean, it’ll do a lot for me, both physically and …”
For as long as I’ve had the privilege to know her, Eleanor’s made jokes about her breasts. Taglines like “Eleanor: the breasts of three women!” and jokes about her bras abounded. Deep down, though, I know she was frustrated with the way she looked, and handled it the best way she knew how—through humor.
One of my best memories from my wedding is when we were getting dressed. Eleanor had informed me that it was a mark of her friendship for me that she was even willing to wear a dress. I had already fastened myself into my wedding gown, and she was standing beside me, laughing. She held up two bras.
“So, should I wear the bra that tucks the breasts in, or the one that lifts them up and makes a shelf of them?”
I very nearly jabbed myself in the eye with the mascara wand, I was laughing so hard. “The shelf,” I said.
So tonight, when she said she’d found a doctor that agreed a breast reduction was medically necessary, inwardly, I cheered. “It’ll help my posture. Not to mention, I won’t have to special-order bras anymore.”
“What cup size are you now?” I asked.
“Can you believe this? An ‘H’ cup! My hooters are enormous!”
“Wow. What size does the doc think he can take you down to?” I said, mentally trying to imagine Eleanor a completely different shape.
“Oh, he’s shooting for a ‘C’ cup.” (A very different mental image indeed—Eleanor without her breasts!) “Hey, do you know how the surgery’s done? I found out the most bizarre thing…”
She proceeded to describe how the surgery was done, some of which I knew, and then said, “And you know what the most bizarre part is? They basically have to disconnect my nipples! When they reconstruct everything, they put them back in the right place, but they won’t actually DO anything. They’re just going to be useless little accessory nipples. Maybe I could get replicas made and start selling Accessory Nipples at Wal-Mart or something.”
At this point, I couldn’t help it any more. I was laughing so hard I had tears rolling down my face. Because, yes, I could picture Eleanor—yes, Eleanor of the infamous Jello Shot* and Highlighter** incidents—trying to sell fake nipples. Maybe it was because I haven’t had much excuse to laugh in the past couple of days, but it was exactly the kind of bizarre story I needed to hear.
“You know what’s even better?” (At this point, I was afraid to ask.) “Because of how they do the surgery, I’ll even get to keep Ronald! And finally, people will stare at Ronald instead of The Cleavage!” (Ronald being, of course, her very large and very colorful octopus tattoo on the top side of her breast.)
So we talk like the women we are, about her finding clothes that will finally fit her correctly, and how she won’t have to special-order bras anymore. We laugh together, like the old friends we are, and she asks me how my father is doing. She tells me to come by her apartment for a while if I need a stress break while I’m in Arkansas, and wishes me and my father well.
“Besides,” she said, “if the loss of my hooters made you laugh on a day like today, then I’ll consider it all worth it.”
Mental note: Ellie, next time we get together, the beer’s on me.
* * * *
Jello Shot Incident: arises from my famed recipe for making jello shots while in college. Eleanor, after having a few, slurred the question, “Ames, how do you tell when a jello shot is done?” Ever the evil person, I told her to take the little Dixie cup the shot was in and to turn it upside down over her head. I never thought she’d actually fall for that little ruse, but she did, and I’ve never let her forget it.
Highlighter Incident: the night in which several of my friends and I discovered that if we turned on my blacklight and started drawing on ourselves with highlighters, the resulting drawings glowed on our skin. You had to be there, I think.