I do not recall the last time I said the “Hail Mary” with any devotion; nor do I the last time I recited it aloud in Latin, as I had been taught to do by my dad, a Puccini-loving cop from Brooklyn who used to walk the Fulton Street beat and was the 80th precinct mid-wife. I recall the times–what? What acts events persons wants desires needs do I recall? All of them or some of them at least in fragments now? What of or what about my Dad and I do I recall, could I recollect . . . together sitting around recollecting times he delivered babies in cabs, on buses, in coffee shops or other stores; or on the sidewalk on Fulton Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Too many people did not call an ambulance, instead my Dad or the Precinct, which then meant my Dad if he were on duty. Do we do so today, call an ambulance; or do some, when possible, call car service?
I also recall–and you do remember that recalling and remembering and recollecting are all of them not the same things, recollecting not standing for another or the yet-other. Yes, I know, all recollecting is remembering, but not all remembering is recollecting—brandy and cognac, no? How was it that I had adapted the Latin of the “Hail Mary” to my own purpose–devotion in prayer; devotion in sex . . . what time was that when . . . when what? Having fallen in love, as I imagined then, all about love was in the realm of imagination; the pathway to eternity. And not only with a local corner grocery store owner’s daughter—but I did do so with her, fall in love, at least . . . her tits were glorious, yes GLORIA IN EXCELSIS. I did imagine I had a crush on her for reasons other than her tits. When I first saw her I imagine I recollect I stared at her tits, stared at them before my dad had the opportunity to tell me not to stare a woman in the tits, yes, that looking her in the eye was preferable than staring her in the tits.
But in-love, yes, of course I was in-love as we think we understand falling in love, to fall or not to fall could be a question every youth must answer or ask. I was with her in mind and in mind with her tits; or, her breasts. No, I preferred to say tits, Ave Mammales Plena Gratia. Breast meat was what you had on roast chicken. What you paid extra for in pieces at KFC.
I had no notion that a fixation on a woman’s tits might be less than how I should have considered her–I was fourteen and a nearly pornographic perception of women fit my preoccupation with sexuality when not singularly fixated on sex, sex and sex, erect dick in hand–taking your life in your hands was something I understood. You certainly should not stare a woman in the cunt, unless naked as she has chosen to be with you, then an upfront appraisal of her cunt is in order, and mostly, as you will find out, because there are still too many women who have never looked at their cunts, or others who have not looked at them and said beautiful when they did happen to examine their vaginas. I cannot tell you how many times I thought about fucking when I was fourteen, how many dreams I had had about sex, although none of them were wet.
I was a boy, a male Homo-Sapiens, and as I have said, one of fourteen–what was it like then I think I remember although it is difficult to recollect; what is it now that I can say, need to say, about what, though? Her blonde curly hair? Her glorious . . . yes, Gloria Mammalibus in Excelsis? It was not that I could not consider her as a human being, fully autonomous and with complete sovereignty over body and mind–I was fourteen and overwhelmed by desire, and this girl’s tits were part of the ero-geneity. Whenever a girls tits were full enough, cleaving the pen was a sport I loved to play . . . the desire to fuck is love, I have to interject. I’m tired of bourgeois morality and residual fucking Puritans when it comes to sex. Recall all the ways we call sex dirty or nasty or some other really disturbing metaphor or grotesque image attached . . . Puritans and prudes; and look at pop culture. That should tell you how uptight we are about sex and sexuality; if we weren’t, we’d handle it differently. I want to fuck means I want to love.
Nonetheless, nevertheless, moreover, however, yet . . . he was short, the grocery store owner, her father–and this has nothing to do with his daughter’s tits in early-seventies tight sweaters . . . beautiful, marvelous, gorgeous, fully formed, the arc in those sweaters, I wished even then that I could sculpt. God they must have been beautiful.
He had thick glasses; his daughter did not; he had black hair still at his age, and his twenty year old daughter did not . . . and if she had had glasses, I still would have only seen her absolutely glorious tits, or so I said later when describing her, or trying to describe her–I do remember when I was sixteen, my father saying never stare a woman in the tits, always look her in the eye. If she wants you, there will be plenty of time for looking at her tits later.
My Dad also said, let the woman choose–he later told me that that’s because the sex will be better if she has chosen rather than having relented.
Tits were either glorious or not glorious. If not glorious, they could still beautiful, but maybe only pretty, which is not to say that pretty cannot be more attractive than beautiful, if you understand what I mean. They might equally be sweet, the tits in question, or luscious, yes, tits can be luscious, delicious even (and of course, either in the mouth or in the eye, and sometimes literally in the eye without piercing the closed eyelid, although pushed by an erect nipple). Beauty, deliciousness, sweetness, is in the eye as well as in the mouth–the paths to God are varied.
How could I not say how glorious her tits were? Exclaiming, proclaiming throughout all the land to to all the inhabitants thereof, Liberty, Beauty, Mammaries.
I was 14 when I declared to myself under my breath leaving the store, Gloria Mammalibus in Excelsis as I have already said here. I had the capacity to express women’s tits in religious terms: Hail Mammaries full of grace, the spirit of the Lord is with you, and blessed are you on everywoman, and blessed is the fruit of the desire you inspire. I have many more–I went through the entire Catholic missal revising hymns and prayers pornogrpaphically, or in some instances, just in praise of Sex, in praise of love . . . I want tits and nipples and cunt and lips and earlobes and necks and collar bones and armpits and tongues and fingers and palms and belly buttons and protruding hipbones . . . and the clitoris, don’t forget the clitoris . . . I remember an episode of a very popular television sit-com that hinged on the latter’s rhyming with Dolores.
A strange metonymy takes place in pornography, part for whole, or part equals whole, which equals woman in some form of extreme close-up, eclipsing the woman in her entirety. Yes, whole becomes part; part in this extremis becomes her hole? The hole of a woman is the whole of the woman in pornography, but this is not what this is here–the focus is on inspiration, how desire becomes act.
I used to go to this grocery store owner for ham sandwiches, Boar’s Head with tomato and mayo on Italian bread. I recalled something of my Catechism. It had no bearing in my desire for her tits that she was Jewish; I did not imagine praising her tits in Latin phrases some old women in my neighborhood still used for God was an affront to anything or anyone. I am sure there were Jews who knew Latin. Human tits were human tits and needed to be praised. Ave Mammales Plena Gratia . . . her tits, they really were glorious, magnificent, how many times am I going to say the same thing, repetition becomes motif.
I closed my eyes and roamed over her tits in devotion, a kind of chivalric romance of the tits–how many times I imagined my lips around the aureole . . . now we’re geting into soft porn? Interesting how this is also used for halos, no? Saintly tits–I prayed with renewed vigor when before the statues of saints as I knew, though, would pale in comparison if ever I could kneel before her tits. Kneeling, praying, praising God, the Queen of Heaven and large firm tits. I would like to say that I lit candles in church in prayer to her tits,but I am not so sure this happened that way, how I used to light votives in church before asking for intercession.I couldn’t very well ask Jesus or Mary too help me in my quest fro her tits, a kind of quester hero I imagined myself, Yvain, Perceval, my Holy Grail was this girl’s tits, kneeling and sucking cunt has been a devotional act, one that has always brought me closer to God, who is a woman, by the way. I believe in one God, God the Mother, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Hagia Sophia became my intellectual mistress when I was an undergraduate.
God, I can still see her tits today–yes, I thanked God for her tits. God was the author of all beauty in the world and at that moment, her tits were two of the most beautiful things in the world. Now, in front of me almost–no, I cannot see her face, nor can I see her in tight jeans–but those sweaters and those tits . . . he was Jewish, the man who owned the store, as I have already said. I knew an Irish-American girl I had an infatuation with at the same time–her tits were–I’m looking for another word to describe her tits. I do not want to use the same word, glorious, but I guess I’ll have to–yes, her tits were also glorious when I was fourteen. I don’t wonder what her tits are like today or how much they have sagged, or if they have. Whose were the first tits I ever had in hand, and not with sweaters between? I am not really asking. I think I know, can close my eyes and see, darkness and light, an opening iris like in silent films?
He had two slicers in his store; one was kosher, the other was non. Occasionally he’d roll up the sleeves of the button down white shirt he always wore, with a tie, black, also always. Yes, always a white shirt covered by an apron; always a tie. I had been in his store I don’t recollect how many times before I saw the numbers tattooed on his arm–he did have numbers tatooed on his arm. I don’t remember the first time I saw them; really I do not. I do not recall what I said or what I thought. I only recall that I did see them, and I do not know if he saw me when I saw them. I do not have any idea what my face must have looked like–I am not going to venture a guess. I was still more curious what his daughters tits looked like under her sweater and bra than why this man had numbers tatooed on his arm. She had to always wear a bra–her tits were big, must have been heavy–I cannot count how many times I fantasized about them, holding them in hands like scales weighing fruit, of course melons, we would say, did say, often said in aside among other boys objectifying women because we could easily then, and still do in what we like to think are appropriate places to be inappropriate with those we allow ourselves to be our worst selves, or so we say in an attempt to acknowledge that we know we are doing what we are not supposed to be doing, or so I imagine because I think most people would rather be bad than stupid or ignorant, the latter with or without the connotations we have given it that stand apart from what it speaks in etymology–I do not know if I had ever thought of them, hers as I had imagined them when I finally made it to a pair of naked tits with my hands and lips. The underwire in most bras makes them contraptions of minor torture I concluded the last time I helped my wife shop for a bra. I would never put on my balls anything made for them the way most bras are made for women’s tits. It’s awful; it’s a very subtle misogyny.
I do not recall what I said or if I said anything or if I asked anyone anything about the numbers tattooed on his arm. My Uncle Sallie who had spent I forget how many years in the U.S. Navy after World War Two–he was in the Battle of the Leyte Gulf, in the 16-inch gun turrets (the shells were sixteen inches) of the Battleship Iowa–yes, Uncle Sallie had tattoos but not numbers, simple numerals, black, in a line, the grocery store owner’s tatoo. I had no idea when I was ten what they meant; I understood the anchor on Uncle Sallie’s arm, as I understood the anchor through the globe on my father’s ensigna from the United States Marine Corps. He was in the battles of Guam, Saipan, Okinawa, as well as the occupation of Shandong, China. What does this have to do with this girl’s tits? Nothing, really; but . . .
I never asked Joe what they meant or why they were there or why anyone would tattoo numerals on the forearm. I am not even sure if I remember that a friend later told me what those numbers meant. I think I recall a friend who has since died telling me; I don’t think he knew because he was concerned for history or for Jews. Jews were still curiosities for many in my old neighborhood, still mysterious, not helped by the fact that history has caused Jews under even the least hostile environments to wear masks on top of the masks each of us wears by nature or familial conditioning. The word for person and the root of the word personality comes from the Latin word for mask, persona. This fact of tattooing was just another piece of trivia; the Germans tattooed them in the camps. I remembered the U.S. Army film footage of liberating camps in Eastern Europe and the horror show it was for us at fourteen . . . I think I recall the skeletal frames of the victims, I hesitate to say alive, surviving and living are not the same things . . . surviving is always beyond living, what it means in its etymology, sur vivir in French . . . and let me tritely say that what is beyond living is not always good. No horror film for years after that had a similar effect; nothing could be as grotesque; how could this full-framed living, let me say vibrant, man have been one of those I saw in those films someone thought we needed to see in our school auditorium when we were fourteen?
I don’t know what happened to Joe, the grocery store owner, after we moved away. I’m not sure if he is still alive; his daughter was four or six years older than I was, maybe she was only eighteen the last time I saw her, a thick voluptuous mass of curly blonde hair tumbling to a green blouse that could not hide . . . Ave Mammales Plena Gratia . . . Mammales Dei qui tollis–yes–the sins of the world, miserere nobis . . . repetition, repetition, repetition. I really cannot see whatI saw then; I can imagine what I saw, now understanding that I did think as I have said I thought, now seeing snippets and fragments of persons, parts, place . . . do I hear old voices that have faded in volume, all memory is in part fiction? I have asked this many times remembering. Not only what we choose to insert, but what the mind that houses our many selves chooses to insert from among the many echoes bouncing off the walls within from the cacophony of voices voicing sound and words and fury . . .
No amount of praying to her tits, for her tits, could accentuate appropriately just how worthy of admiration and fame her tits were, and I know this even if I cannot see as definitely now as I know I did then . . . to repeat what I have already said in these and other words said, yes, illustrious tits, her tits; yes, magnificent tits, her tits, those tits, my tits, really. Hers were marvelous tits; they were superb, spectacular, sublime–yes, her tits were sublime . . . lovely, delightful, very, very fine, too much is less a girl I knew in college used to love saying. Perhaps this is enhanced by distance rather than obfuscated–or perhaps it has been obfuscated in a way that allows for a more greatly perceived fondness? I do see what I have said I saw; but it is other than video tape and other than complete fabrication. If there is fictional Truth, there is also memorial Truth, if you get what I am doing here.
I don’t remember whose were the first tits I ever had out of a bra. I’ve said this already. I don’t know why I should remember or why I should have forgotten. I often thought about how many tits I have seen, how many I have handled, fondled, played with, caressed, kissed, cuddled, sucked . . . where was I for my first tits I cannot say–I think I might have an idea who, but discretion, discretion, discretion . . . (the man who used to answer his front door naked or semi-naked is worried about being discrete–this is rich).
I really do not remember the first pair of tits I had in hand. I mean naked tits, bald tits, out of blouse and without bra. There were tits inside of these, either of them–I knew a girl who had tatooed a small heart on one of her tits, I think it was the left tit, or was it the right tit–no, it was the left tit, it was my right hand, then upper and lower lips, one at a time then both . . . there must be a great difference for some to have their tits out of a blouse in a bra and out of the bra–I mean, I can see how there are those who see a great difference–I’m not sure a girl’s father would imagine the difference if she were under eighteen–I’m not sure he would if she were over eighteen. We are still horribly prudish. I’m not. I always managed to get at the underneath of tits, the bottom of tits . . .
Upon first writing this, Joe might have been alive; the chances of Joe still being alive are slim, yet men living into their late nineties is not unusual. The daughter with the fabulously great and glorious tits most likely is. I used to imagine many years ago telling a woman in some future that I had had a crush on her when I was a boy. Nonetheless, I don’t know if his wife was older or younger. I never saw anything on her arms; I don’t know if I ever saw her arms. He was closed on Saturdays, opened regular hours on Sunday. I don’t know what I could tell him, or even if I should tell him anything, if I were to see him again, if he is alive, probably not; I thought the other day about his grocery store. I thought about the girl whose tits I had fallen in love with when I was fourteen, a girl who lived near the grocery with the girl with curly blonde hair and a pair of wondrous tits, fantastic in as much as they were the subject of many fantasies.
I know I’ll forget this soon enough and perhaps remember it just as easily only to forget it again just as quickly once more. What could it have meant to me even if I were Jewish in Brooklyn, what I saw? How many Jews here were touched by the Holocaust; but I knew later that we were all supposed to be touched by it, but then we believed in a pan-humanity, or at least we imagined we did. We don’t today, in spite of what I think, what we say, not as sub-divisive as our diversity has been allowed to become; multiculturalism has been allowed to degenerate into justification for tribal politics. This is not the place for diatribes on politics and culture.
Lip service, easy enough; lying to one’s self easier. If Jews believe that when a person saves another person he saves the world, how many worlds did the Nazis destroy, I could ask, but I don’t. Do any of us through omission help destroy worlds within worlds. We don’t say enough of what we should say because all of us spend so much of our time chattering away, twittering away our time inanely on social media, hoping that there can be a cumulative effect on our lives, our collective future, as if linearly progressing toward an infinite future will bring us closer to a solution, an absolution, a resolve, a conclusion of enormous magnitude, enormous satisfaction for good. Infinity though is never reachable, never attainable, never ever to come and all efforts at reaching these infinite possibilities that we have become enamored with are destined to fail. One billion to the one billionth power no closer to infinity than three. Our hopes our rocks up the mountainside? Sisyphus, as I have said before in another piece of writing essaying what thesis, at least had his rock; we have only our illusions and delusions . . . this is as true interpersonally as it has become or has always been collectively.
Preaching is easy, though. I like to preach. This I know from experience. Yes, again, I love to preach. Practice, though, is always hard enough when done to make things perfect. Her tits were perfection for me when I was fourteen. Maybe if men remained devotional about women’s bodies they would not need to repress or oppress them–fear of sex, of woman’s sexuality, of woman as person has become master over our humanity. I should not let this become what I had not intended it to become; to be or not be is what we have come to be or not come to be by our choices made, our choices confirming our fates? Mine. We do pay for them, our lives, that is, and quite readily by our choices . . . and not choosing has always been a choice. To choose or not to choose is not really a question; to have made an active choice or a passive one is about all you get in the question of choosing.
A Short Story