This supremely hot friend of mine once listed off what he looked for in a girl. At the time, we were on my bed and he was getting a secretly-erotic-but-totally-platonic massage from Yours Truly. Did I mention the supremely hot part? The man was a living Adonis rising from the ocean right into my bedroom. No matter how many cheap beers I’d had, I was not going to fuck this up.
Definitely someone down to Earth. Sense of humor. Loves dogs, the outdoors, cooking, travel, also football. Wants a big family. Enjoys exercise and staying fit. Equal parts girly and tomboy. Great laugh. Easygoing.
Besides ‘sense of humor,’ I resembled none of these things. That was fine, as we were better as friends, but I was curious what men like him – the shiny, top shelf standard in America – looked for in a life partner. So far, the list held zero surprises.
No smokers, no drug users, no Atheists, and definitely no pancake boobs.
Here was a list that was even less achievable for me. I was most surprised by the Atheist thing since I’d never known him to be religious. “You can’t believe in nothing, you have believe in something – and if you don’t, that’s just crazy!” he sort-of explained. This side of him was new to me, and not that interesting. I found it ironic that he couldn’t date some cancerous, godless druggie with delicious tits, when here he was getting a free massage from that exact woman.
“What the hell are pancake boobs?” I asked, picturing actual pancakes where breasts would normally be. If it was bad, it was probably something I had, and if I did have it, knowing that information wasn’t imperative. I always thought people said “Ignorance is bliss” in this condescending way, but really they meant it as discovery. It was a shout-out, an invitation, a proud bumpersticker. In that moment before he answered, I realized ignorance was a real-life solution to real-life problems.
Pancake boobs, he explained, were God’s abomination afflicted upon women and, by extension, the unfortunate men who loved those women. Pancake boobs were flat, often because they were larger, and hoisting them up was a gross chore for whatever poor man was trapped in that hostage situation.
He described in great detail what was underneath a pancake boob: hot, slimy detritus, flotsam and jetsam, “lady stuff”, and probably various potato chips. By the end of the conversation, I vowed to buy a much better bra and make my official exit from the world of dating forever. His dream girl would never have pancake boobs. I doubt she even ate carbs, and when she did, she probably lost weight like an asshole.
I knew the girl that he described existed; I’d met her in so many places. The city, the countryside, the beach, the forest, in the waiting room of my doctor’s office, on the bus, at a party. She existed on every continent and I hated her in every language.
I called this perfectly imperfect girl Effortless Erin – though it doesn’t really matter what her name was, because she always made it cool. She was an Elliot, a Sam, a Laura, a Devon, a Sloane, or even a Betty. Everything about her was uncomplicated and cool.
The quick bun she put her hair in; the plain white tee she wore; the ironic 80’s sunglasses; her denim cutoffs/oversized overalls/floral skirt/cigarette pants/cool joggers/funny costume; the vintage car she drove; her Instagram feed. Even her dog was adorable, all-American, and carefree. She and her fiancé: #relationshipgoals. She drank whiskey and wore trucker hats and threw dinner parties that always turned into dance parties by 10pm. Her friendships seemed effortless, too – the karaoke theme nights and adventurous vacation pics and choreographed handshakes or dances; there were matching outfits and drunken war stories and heartfelt rites of passage. She dressed to perfection throughout, and made scrunchies seem cool again.
All of it looked like a magazine spread while never looking forced. What kind of lady sorcery was this?
Of course she looked good in sweatpants and a minidress. Of course she rocked the bangs and straight hair and curly hair and pixie cuts and bohemian hair and wigs and head bands and also head wraps. Of course she loved to run because it cleared her mind. Of course she swore like a sailor and got along with everyone and never ugly-cried. Of course she was accepted as one of the guys while being a girly-girl. And of course she did all of this photogenically, with sense and grace, and a genuinely loyal heart. She was smart, too, and had the thinnest goddamn arms, like porcelain doll-sized arms.
Most importantly, she had breasts that defied gravity. They literally floated towards Heaven. They were the perfect size and roundness and velocity for every man in every direction. Forget her winsome smile and the Harvard degree and how she used to be a gymnast, and focus on the pointy human triangles of fat situated beneath her chin.
Since the beginning of time, I have hated this woman with every molecule of my stretch mark-riddled being. I knew what she had was unattainable to me – not just the doll arms or trucker hats, but the aggressive effortlessness. That takes hours for me to achieve, and then it just looks like I’m trying too hard. Better to lean into just being me: quirky and awesome, an acquired taste; something more complicated and vicious and flawed, oh my god so flawed, but also a little bit smart and a little bit funny. (Sometimes, depending on the day, a lot fucking funny.) Never effortless — if anything, let’s be honest, more effort. But worth it, I hoped, to the right weirdo — which was not my friend, Adonis, but my future (second) husband.
The next day, I woke up bathed in sunshine. I felt distinctively that I’d slept on my hair in a way that was very much camera-ready – instead of aggressive nautical hair knots, it felt tousled and, yes, quite effortless – and I made sure my breath didn’t stink. Adonis opened those baby blue eyes and gave me a slow, sexy smile.
“You snored like a fucking freight train last night,” he said, laughing. “Don’t worry, I told everyone.” My confidence bubble deflated. This was one of the greatest lessons that I ever learned, really: Expectations are bullshit and do nothing for literally no one. So much suffering in life has come from having expectations, just to get real Buddhist about it.
All I could do was laugh and lightly drown in humiliation, knowing that this beautiful thing named Adonis was not meant for me. He was destined for some skinny-armed, genuinely hot, lightly-Christian role model who loved to camp and cook and give birth to human children.
I was destined for greater things…or just like, I don’t know, whatever, things. Sure, I totally had pancake boobs, but Adonis didn’t represent every man on Earth. And more importantly, I would never betray or give up on carbohydrates — my friend and true love and partner-in-crime and longstanding support system. Nothing could tear us asunder.