Trinidad and Tobago


Observing boobs

June 27, 2001

IT came via e-mail, described as "a recently published medical finding", this claim that men who tot up ten minutes or more per day ogling women’s breasts benefit doubly, by also reducing risk of stress-related cardiac arrest.

That it didn’t come from Lancet or Johns Hopkins, or quote some identifiable authority threw up a warning signal. On the supply side, there was at least the coincidence that my heart has remained in good order despite a challenging lifestyle that—let me rush to admit—includes peeking at passing pairs.

The fruits of this harmless pursuit not only improved health among males, but brought watermelons and grapes into equal focus, as the report was neither size-specific, nor did it list any other characteristics as crucial to the curative component.

Technically, it appears large numbers of calories are burned during such adventures. This scientific support of a theory I had intuitively developed during my adult years certainly gladdened my heart, an effect that must also rank as an additional stress-reliever.

Indeed, circulation of the tit-bit brought immeasurable glee to consenting adults everywhere. Male voyeurs thought they had resurrected in boob heaven. Female exhibitionists justified generous cleavage as demonstrable concern for rising incidence of heart disease among men.

From a time well before the new information surfaced, I basked in irresponsible denial of continuous and indiscriminate overdose of the therapy, worried betimes that all addictive behaviour has downfalls. Finally, I attempted to introduce personal curbs, finding solace deep within the wisdom of an old-folks saying.

Surely, I thought, if "too much of one thing is good for nothing", too much of two things must be infinitely worse. And after years of being cautioned about one possible cause of blindness, advice flagrantly disregarded during my swashbuckling years, this now bespectacled writer no longer takes a cavalier view of folk legends.

Up until that time, my average at kindest calculation was outrageously in excess of the recommended ten minutes per day. Out of empathy with my many friends who have heart problems, I vowed to reduce intake, placing profile glances and the use of mirrors on the negative list, so as to allow them more of the treatment.

As a thoroughly demanding but unflinchingly self-imposed discipline, it worked rather well until last week, when the Uphondo Lwe Afrika dance-troupe arrived for a series of shows here.

Advertising strict adherence to cultural tradition, but no doubt aware of its value as a sales trigger, female members of the group were about to dance bare-breasted on local stages. It had happened before, back in the seventies, when a similarly costumed Senegalese troupe performed here, stirring up negative comment from less-enlightened persons of the day.

So when the Daily Express published a front-page picture of the young girls flaunting their breasts in June 2001, the gush of moralising came as a surprise. Ensuing dialogue on radio shows spoke of a people yet to understand human sexuality, or one confined to definitions supplied exclusively by late-night cable television.

I didn’t catch the group’s performance. When I encountered the girls they were fully clothed, enjoying fish broth and cow-heel soup at the St James Tripolians panyard and none of them seemed concerned about the storm in a teacup created by their first exposure, an impromptu concert staged upon arrival.

But what’s all this about watching boobs? Was that the genesis of Sodom and Gomorrah? Aren’t children exposed to breasts as a matter of course?

Happily, our society does not limit its definition of "boobs" to functional appendages on the female chest. Since my childhood I also learned that a boob is a foolish person so, even in the instant consideration, the complainants comprised a larger number of boobs than the dancers had collectively exposed.

Indeed, over the past week alone, there were lots of fully exposed boobs to observe, among them those who felt Dwight Yorke’s last-minute repatriation to the national football team would magically turn the tide and revive our chances of gaining a place in the World Cup finals.

Hardcore West Indian cricket fans, perhaps the world’s largest single collection of masochists, also believed the regional team would begin to salvage its pathetic image during the current tour of Zimbabwe.

Earlier in the week, there had been much palaver over the start of testing of an Aids vaccine. As usual, describing the possible problem was far more popular than thinking up solutions to difficulties already being experienced. It was much the same when the sale of condoms became available across the board.

However, last week’s booby prize goes to diehard supporters of the United National Congress (UNC), at last Sunday’s Rienzi Complex convention, who failed to even vary their cheering when Political Leader Basdeo Panday, in listing his government’s achievements, disclosed that a dhalphouri roti could still be had for $5.

It was the kind of statement that could induce anxiety, particularly among roti-lovers, who know that even Miss Kanhai, Port of Spain’s most famous cheap-roti provider, had long upgraded her prices.

I was therefore left with little choice. Rather than argue with Mr Panday’s supporters and send my blood pressure up or risk a heart condition, I simply reverted to the therapy described above.

It worked.

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