Two for the show

This creative non-fiction piece was originally written for my Prose Forms class at Columbia College Chicago as part of what eventually became my graduate thesis and the memoir-in-progress on which I’m currently working. It was originally published in 2009 in an online magazine called Kaleidoscopic Resonance which now seems to have folded.

They were easily the biggest breasts I’ve ever seen in person, and that includes my trip to Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club. They were attached, with fairly obvious surgical assistance, to two blatantly plastered women perched on stepladders directly over my right shoulder, and they were seeing the light of day with increasing regularity as the Endymion parade rolled around the slow bend of Lee Circle. I’ve never objected to the occasional flash of flesh, but these women’s jugs – and I would ordinarily refrain from the use of such a vulgar term, but it seems appropriate here, as they really were the size of milk jugs – had moved beyond curious distraction into the realm of public nuisance.

Both women were blonde, a little chubby, and somewhere on the downward slope of their thirties (the bosoms I would guess to be considerably younger). They wore form-fitting pink tops with blue jeans several sizes tighter than they needed to be. The noisier one sported one of those white straw cowboy hats most commonly seen on trashy sorority types half her age. Each one had a whistle around her neck, and these were employed liberally whenever the wearers felt the volume level of the country’s largest street party was insufficient. They were accompanied by a couple of overly muscled, longhaired guys in tank tops who stood proprietarily at the feet of the ladders. The men glanced around the crowd with smug little smirks, as if to say, “Yeah, I’m sleepin’ with my head between those tonight! Eat your hearts out, fellas!”

And the fellas were. Most of the guys around me were risking orbital fractures darting their eyes back and forth from their girlfriends to the juggy ladies. One older guy had dropped all pretenses and stood with his back to the parade, staring upward, open-mouthed. The women in the crowd were mostly shaking their heads huffily or lobbing crude insults about the dubious biology of those boobs. Myra and I cocked our heads and analyzed these grotesqueries together, speculating on what combination of high income and low self-esteem would spur a middle-aged woman to be wobbling on a ladder, proudly displaying her augmented accoutrements to a thousands-strong crowd of international observers. We decided they were former strippers out to put the girls on display one last time before age started doing things surgery couldn’t reverse.

If it was attention they were out for, they were getting it. Each time one of the ornate Mardi Gras floats came creeping around the corner, up went their shirts. Myra and I made a game of scanning the row of masked riders to see which one would notice first. When one did, he would jerk his head back, do a full-blown double take, then nudge the guy beside him. By the time the float was directly in front of us, every remotely male creature on board was aware of the bounty, and a hailstorm of beads rained down on our section of the crowd. Most of the goodies found their targets, and the women’s chests were soon buried under rippling, jiggling layers of cheap plastic, waiting impatiently for their next chance to spring forth.

Things got especially heated when a float carrying a celebrity rider came around the bend. The women adhered to the same logic employed by groupies the world over – that offering your body to someone who has achieved excellence somehow conveys excellence upon you as well. They giggled like middle schoolers as Saints tackle Kyle Turley came into view. They squealed and flung their tops up, elbows jutting out on either side, and the big man shook his head, stretched his arms out palms up and mouthed, “Thank you. Thank you.”

Next was Jason Alexander of Seinfeld fame, and the ladies bounced with anticipation until we thought they would tumble off their ladders (if they leaned forward they would probably be in for soft landings, but we feared splashback from bursting saline pouches). “I can’t believe George Costanza is gonna see my titties!” the louder one squealed. Mr. Alexander, looking especially tiny in a heavy purple robe and oversized silver crown, wasn’t looking their way when the float drew near. Both women laid into the whistles as they waggled their exposed chests, but the actor turned to the other side of the float and passed on without spotting his bustiest fans. The women were disappointed, but consoled themselves with the knowledge that Nicolas Cage was still to come.

Before they had the chance to show the Oscar winner their golden globes, a bulky New Orleans police officer came steaming across the street, dodging through a line of mesmerized high school boys who had fallen out of formation with their marching band. He was an older, barrel-shaped man with a thick brown moustache that was twitching with indignation.

“Hey!” he barked, pointing his nightstick up at the ladder ladies. “I got my grandkids across the street tryin’ to watch the goddamn parade! Them shirts better stay down the rest of this parade or you’re gonna be flashin’ each other across a jail cell tonight!” There were some quiet and mostly male sighs of disappointment from the crowd, but the cop clearly meant business and nobody wanted to step up to that plate.

Things quieted down after that. There was still the occasional whistle blast, and the noisier one flashed her bra a couple of times in defiance, but the party was over. Nicolas Cage came and went without his four-gun salute, and Myra and I departed not long after him. On the walk home I briefly considered suggesting stopping by the video store for a couple of Russ Meyer movies, but wisely opted to leave well enough alone.

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