Prancing Around in the Booby Patch

Jugs. Bazoombas. Ear warmers. Boulders. Knockers. Fun bags. Dirty pillows. Lolas. Bodacious ta-tas. Hoo-has. Chi chis. Cha chas. Cho chos. Big'uns. Hooters. Mermans. Nancies. Gazongas. Wangdoodles. Melons. Chickies. Booblets. Ah, yes, the breast!

There is no part of the human body—male or female—more popular than the female knockabout; everyone loves breasts. Big or small, dark or light, pointed or full, practical (for the new sucklings) or ornamental, les cantaloupes have been the toast of teet town since time began.

In the thick but wee book The Breast Book: Attitude, Perception, Envy and Etiquette, Maura Spiegel and Lithe Sebesta have apparently searched the ends of the Earth for every breast picture, reference and novelty, and their research is hearty. Far from a peep show and not quite a psychological study, The Breast Book dips into both arenas yet remains firmly planted in the middle ground of letting the breast define itself.

From varied anthropological theories, Spiegel and Sebesta offer unique takes on a question I've never heard a soul ask: Why do women have breasts? Responses momentarily take the mind off hand cuppage: "Humans are the only mammals whose females have breasts that are permanently enlarged." Fun fact!

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But why are female humans perpetually endowed? Many Darwinists believe the fleshy orbs developed to draw the newly erect (as in standing up) male away from doggie-style lovemaking, thus mimicking a chest full of derriere.

Was this motivation also the cause of enlarged earlobes and full lips? Does the name pussyface make you cringe? Feminists (the boring old hags) naturally attribute all breastalia to survival and storage of fatty tissue and keeping milk warm, yadda, yadda, yawn. Other theories purport the jiggly bits to be handles (still for the tots) and some think they're simply pedestals for the erogenous nipply nay-nay.

However, one theory is clear: for modern females, the permanently swollen breast is nonfunctional, and therefore completely aesthetic—God love art! The roundness of even the smallest coconuts is pleasing to the eye, like the moon, the sun and all those lovely summer peaches, and that's good enough for us—and, apparently, the authors.

The scientific study is light and stops early in The Breast Book, serving merely as a sweet hors d'oeuvre to the fleshy feast unfurling beyond. The rest of this more-than-400-page, four-by-six table topper is filled with some of the richest photos and illustrations this side of phallusville—who knew the breast was, like, everywhere?Forget about all the Internet porn and turn your cheek to peroxided, augmented, monstrosities, and instead gaze upon titillating images of "real life breasts, those that greet the day without benefit of makeup, airbrush or camera angling" as well as objets d'art that look like real breasts and drawings of things that could never have breasts but do.

Don't worry: you're barely subjected to some granola, droopy, hairy breasts—this is not a misaligned slap at misogyny—in fact, the superb text and captivating, sometimes kitschy photographs, are hot, beautiful, funny and, well, after so much torpedo talk, will still make you want to go have a smoke. I had three. Ahem.

There's so much covered in the little Breast Book that one size really does fit all. From the alpha breast to the zeppelin, we find large, sparkling jewels in chapters concerning Victorian time lines chronicling undergarments worn for seduction; the short story of the nipple, including adornments; the busty brunettes and blond bombshells of Tinseltown; breastscapes of the female form re-created in nature; and, of course, the most beautiful expression of love-hump-love, the marriage of the breast and hand—"first explorations, illicit attentions and the frisson of self-caress."

The verdict on all this boobation? Female breasts are not just arousing and pleasing to men, but to women as well—even more than male nudes. "Identifying with the image to the point of entering it, women feel the breast's curves as perhaps only a woman can." Anyone have a light?

The Breast Book: Attitude, Perception, Envy & Etiquette by Maura Spiegel and Lithe Sebesta; Workman Publishing Co. Inc. Softcover, 480 full-color pages, $13.95.

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