Jon de Vos: Don’t look now
Emily Post will guide you in the proper etiquette should you accidentally drop your napkin beneath the table. Judith Martin, the famed Miss Manners, will chide you should you be so churlish as to confront your Caesar salad with a dinner fork. However, search as you may, nowhere do these bastions of proper social engagement offer advice as to how to handle those awkward first moments when unexpectedly startled by a female acquaintance’s new augmentation surgery on her, um, chest.
Women’s chests have always been a sort of hands-off topic, social-wise, except for some notable exceptions involving beer and T-shirts.
I suppose one simply averts their eyes while pretending things are normal down below eye level. Nope, absolutely nothing prominent has happened to the front of that person that we are talking to, and especially at which we are not looking. Sort of like the cop in a B movie shouting, “Move along, folks, nothin’ to see here,” in front of the body of a thirty-five-foot tall space alien, sprawled in the middle of a downtown intersection, spurting fountains of green blood. Well, okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration but, doggone it, women who thrust that sort of thing on casual male friends should be required to wear a warning sticker like you have on the right hand mirror on your car, “OBJECTS MAY APPEAR . . .”
Surely outright staring is taboo, but without some furtive sidelong glances, how do you know for sure? I suspect several wives and girlfriends have their hands on their hips, asking, “Why, exactly, would you need to know at all?”
To which every husband and boyfriend responds, “As Mallory said of Everest, because it’s there!”
Maybe it’s OK to fish around a little, “Gosh, just look at you! You must’ve been to a Chiropractor. Are you standing a lot straighter than normal?” No doubt some women (big majority) just labeled me a sexist pig, but you just imagine what if guys had this sort of operation on their cheeks, how would you handle it? Huh? What then?
I don’t get it. If a person woke up six inches taller overnight, it would be the talk of the town and the entire neighborhood would gather as one voice and cry, “Holy Cow! How did that happen?” But turn a molehill into a mountain overnight and you’re not even supposed to glance in that direction, pervert! But that makes absolutely no sense. Why would a person subject themselves to this uplifting experience without wanting to draw attention to the fact? Or, pair of facts, actually. It’s not just me. The restaurant is called Hooters, isn’t it? I can say with some certainty that there is no woman on earth I would get beanbags stuffed in my chest for. Well, OK, maybe Rosanna Arquette. If she thought it was a good idea, I’d maybe go with it.
Does one stare into space at some neutral and unoffending point in the universe, or does one glance over and say earnestly, “Hey, are those bad boys new?” You could bring it up casually in a restaurant, “Please pass the chest, oh, no, I mean bread. Gosh, why would I ever say something like that?”
I looked in a gift store to see if perhaps there was an appropriate card for the occasion. All I could find was one that said, “Congratulations on your outstanding achievement.” What to do?
Come on, Miss Manners.
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