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Glandular Case 

Checking out the competition

Twice in one day I was confronted up close with breasts that weren't my own or those of anyone I know. The first time was when I went online to the Drudge Report to check out Janet Jackson's mammary gland. Apparently I was the only adult watching the Super Bowl who didn't catch its baring, surprising myself because I usually don't miss an opportunity to scrutinize another woman's equipment. The second time was when I got an unexpected eyeful in the Y's locker room.

I know what you're thinking, but believe me, I don't secretly long to be a character on the new lesbian show The L Word, even though I'm about as motivated as men to see all the tits I can. We women are always analyzing each others' breasts in relation to our own because they're our most visible weaponry for conquering the world, and we want to know what the competition is packing. Within seconds of meeting another female we've nailed the size of two things, her diamond and her bust, and that's without ever obviously looking down.

We're also interested in shape and firmness along with size, but you can't always tell that stuff through clothes, especially with all the deceiving bras out there. That's where locker rooms come in. Once you've left college and the cozy lack of modesty it inspires, your best hope for seeing bare bosoms is in the locker room of whatever athletic facility you belong to.

It was there that I got to evaluate a couple more strange breasts a mere hour or two after giving Janet's a close going-over. I'd just taken a Pilates class with a woman I'd never met before, and suddenly she was stripping down full frontal mere inches away from my surprised face while animatedly chattering about a skiing injury. I couldn't believe my luck that I was getting to judge a pair without having to sneak a sidelong glance into the mirror or across the aisle. B-plus, BTW.

In the locker room you're scanning for two things, in addition to breast-sightings: women who look a whole lot worse than you do, and women who have much more risque underwear. The misshapen bodies cause you to think, Oh my God, she works out? -- boosting your ego, while the girls in the foxy bras and panties give you a vicarious thrill like the one you get watching Carrie scamper around in gauzy nothings on Sex and The City.

The first sighting I ever had of racy lingerie was in the locker room of my parochial high school where we changed from our ugly regular uniforms into our ugly gym uniforms. The gym uniform was this puffy, off-turquoise romper that we had to wear with our regulation saddle shoes, probably to make sure we looked ridiculous enough to repel boys.

Somehow I found a way to get into the thing without taking off my blouse first, as I felt shy about showing my chaste white brassiere, let alone my breasts. Once while struggling into my blue balloon, I glanced over to see another student breezily whip off her shirt, revealing a leopard-skin bra! OK, maybe I didn't just "glance" and maybe this was the beginning of my career of checking out what the other gals have, but however it came about it was certainly an eye-opener. It wasn't just the wild bra that was a shock, but the girl's casual attitude toward being exposed. I was impressed then and I am now when women stroll buck-naked down the aisle of the locker room, or make casual chit-chat while their bare nipples are staring at me like a child's unblinking orbs. It's funny, because I had my nude period in college of hanging out without a stitch but that degree of comfort never carried over to the locker room setting, perhaps because it was initially such a scene of cringing adolescent modesty and innocence.

My second high school was Quaker and didn't make us wear hideous gym uniforms, but its locker room was still a sweat bath of embarrassment for me because it was where the jaded rich girls talked dirty about their boyfriends. One day the lucky bitch that dated the guy I had a crush on announced, "All Stuart wants to do is screw all the damn time!," leaving me shocked and envious at once, like when I glimpsed the leopard-skin bra.

Unfortunately nobody talks dirty in the Y locker room, at least during the hours I'm there, but when somebody gets naked in my face I'm flattered because it makes me feel part of a sisterhood I didn't have entrance to as a teenager. Plus I get to check out whether or not their boobs are better than mine. I bet I'll be doing that even when we're all stretched out on slabs in that final locker room, the morgue.

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