When I was in 5th grade, my school divided all of the children in my grade by gender and forced us to read these terrible periodicals about our “changing bodies.” The female edition had two ladies on the cover who looked entirely too delighted to be chatting about bleeding from a private orifice and crying intermittently without cause. The pamphlet was brimming with a superfluity of dreadful metaphors such as “you are a flowering branch on the tree of life now” and other equally gag-worthy phrases.
Needless to say, I paid no attention to the registered nurse as she guided us through painfully awkward conversations. I was far too occupied with calculating how much bad poetry I could write about my crush to heed this hormonal drivel. Busy contemplating my elaborate soliloquies, I tuned out the edifying (if overly romantic) guide to my adolescent body, which might have provided some solace a month later.
A few weeks after the instructional session, I was playing on the playground with my friend, Melvin (name changed). Melvin and I traditionally busied ourselves with eating Cocoa Puffs and pretending we were the Ninja Turtles. This particular afternoon, we were ferociously vanquishing Shredder’s minions. I was about to serve Bebop a knuckle sandwich when a baseball astonishingly appeared out of thin air and nailed me in the chest, knocking me off my feet. I smacked the ground with a solid thud, landing flat on my back.
Bewildered by this sudden projectile’s assault, I looked up at my companions for some explanation. My cohorts were staring at me with their mouths open, a frozen tableau of Shredder ass-kicking in progress. No evidence of the baseball’s origin was to be seen. I shakily stood up and dusted myself off before launching an attack at my nearest opponent. “From whence you came!” I yelled nonsensically as I dealt Rocksteady a rather ineffective roundhouse kick to the arm.
Later that night, I noticed that there was some swelling where the baseball had hit me. I gingerly prodded at the flesh over my heart. The tissue was tender to the touch, but I figured that was normal for being hit with such force. It wasn’t till six days later that I began to become concerned. There was no evidence of bruising, but a sizeable lump still remained. What was this strange growth? Did I have cancer? Was this a tumor? I started to panic at the thought of losing my beautiful ringlets.
Suddenly, a light bulb went off in my head. What if this was a natural phenomenon—my pubescent breasts? This was the right spot on my chest to develop such a feature, I mused as I surveyed myself in the mirror. But why was I only developing one if it were indeed a breast? I was no expert in human anatomy, but I was fairly certain these things came in pairs.
An even more disturbing thought crossed my mind. What if that baseball was the instrument by which God had initiated my breast growth? Had I missed that memo while I was busy counting syllables? “And then the Lord shall giveth unto thee a violent catalyst which shall engender thy burgeoning fecundity.” That baseball had appeared out of nowhere like a divine instrument, thrown straight from the hand of the Almighty himself.
Dear God! I recoiled in horror from the thought. If the baseball was the vehicle through which growth of my left breast had been instigated, that meant I could expect another blunt object to the chest any day now! I slapped my hands against my face with dismay. I would rather have one breast than undergo that experience again, I determined. I could live life as a one-breasted woman. I would join a traveling circus and become a star attraction. “The Mono-Breast! ASTOUNDING! STUPEFYING! YOU WON’T BELIEVE YOUR EYES!” It seemed like a solid plan.
I refused to play outside for the next week before my body naturally decided to even itself out without another unsuspected blow to the torso.