Last month I spent one Friday night sprawled topless on my bed while a guy named Joe twiddled my nipples until I came over and over again. My eyes rolled back in my head and my whole body bucked and twisted as he squeezed and rolled and flicked. "Oh my God," Joe kept saying, as I moaned and clawed at the sheets, "I can't believe you can do this."
My super-erogenous nipples have always been something of a shock to men, and my ability to orgasm based solely on their stimulation is seen as some kind of bizarre talent, like those people who can touch their tongue to their nose, or girls who are double-jointed. My ex-boyfriend used to idly flick one of my nips while we lay in bed in the morning, and when I winced, my back arching in an involuntary spasm of pleasure, he would raise his eyebrows and say, "Really?" his Doubting-Thomas tone unmistakable. "Yes," I'd tell him, feeling defensive. But what I meant was, Yes. Yes!
My breasts arrived right on time in sixth grade, and within two years they had grown into their full, glorious DD cup. From the start it was clear that I was supposed to be self-conscious about my boobs, hiding my bras and complaining to my friends about how embarrassing it was to find guys staring at my chest, but secretly I rejoiced in my buxom bounty. My body seemed to get everything wrong — I was too short, too round, too muscular — but finally my Eastern-European roots were smiling on me. Big, beautiful breasts. Thank God.
Those same Eastern-European roots provided a significant drawback. When I was in fifth grade I first heard the word lumpectomy in a conversation between my mother and my grandmother, who was about to undergo the procedure. I learned all kinds of other words that summer, including radiation, chemotherapy, and biopsy.