About The Writer
Matthew Vasiliauskas is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago. In 2009, he was awarded the Silver Dome Prize by the Illinois Broadcast Association for best public affairs program as producer of the Dean Richards Show at WGN Radio. His work has appeared in publications such as Stumble Magazine, The Adirondack Review and The Pennsylvania Review. Matthew currently lives and works in Los Angeles.
Warm Mounds of Flesh
How the Historical Overexposure of Female Anatomy has Led to a Diminished Interest in the Wonderment of Breasts
Before I get to the tits, I need to set the scene a bit.
I’ve been going to the same taco truck for about 6 months now every Monday.
The truck is not much to look at: scattered veins of rust melting over faded graffiti.
Monday is the day the truck forgoes its usual menu of carnitas and tostadas and instead serves fried oxen burritos, which they claim were a delicacy of the ancient Egyptians.
I’ve been tremendously fascinated by prehistoric cuisine ever since getting into the television show Regenesis, where chefs using synthetic biology bring back and cook exotic mammals. Giant Koala is apparently an effective aphrodisiac, and when simmered with shredded pecans can help reduce heart disease by 50 percent.
Because of my fears and family health history, I usually order two of the burritos.
Monday is also when the owner’s daughter--at least I assume her to be--works the register and fills small to-go containers with guacamole.
Her long black hair is often pulled into a bun, with what looks to be a fish bone and flower tied to the end, holding it into place.
There is a bronze hue to her skin, and she will frequently appear and disappear into the backroom steam, thick whiteness and the sizzle of grease washing away her features, so that a swirling, ghost-like silhouette is all I can make out.
I commend her father for such salesmanship, recognizing the combination of his daughter’s curvaceous build coupled with sexually charged mammalian meat to be the perfect catalyst for driving business.
Anyway, I’m enjoying the Oxen and glancing at a faux renaissance sculpture when I catch my first glimpse of the tits.
Suddenly, everything seemed to be engraved in light, swirling areolas moving through orangeness like floating suns.
Swatting away a fly on my cheek, I saw a woman of about twenty-five on a pair of roller skates topless with the words, “Ce n’est pas un ventre,” written with a sort of blue finger paint across her stomach.
She was a classic beauty--one of those girls I imagine starring in a French New Wave Film--with blond hair creeping below her shoulders like smoothed out stalks of wheat.
What I found most incredible was no one seemed to notice or mind that the woman’s tits were right out in public.
There she was, reaching into a leather purse and distributing flyers to people who were smiling, nodding and thanking her without once gazing down and sneaking a peek at the mounds of whiteness now nearly blinding from the reflective rays of the sculpture.
All this culminated with a smartly dressed man carrying an umbrella walking up to the woman and engaging in conversation for something like three minutes, and not once noticing the fact that a pair of bare tits were inches away from his pin-striped vest.
This must have been a mirage, or maybe a delusion. The oxen was probably not FDA certified and there could’ve been some parasite coursing through my veins, so I rubbed my eyes several times.
But everything was still the same. I watched as the woman waved goodbye to the smartly dressed man, now carrying one of the flyers in his hands.
I stood there for several moments, unable to tear myself from the tits and watched the flyers leave her hands like paper birds sailing and landing on the shirtsleeves of individuals with faces like bleached limestone.
Later, during my afternoon nap, I had a dream that the tits had grown to the size of my grandmother and were wearing my grandmother’s clothing, sharing a purple-striped button up and beige trousers between them while standing in front of a blackboard.
The nipples began to glow red, pulsating a language of illuminated skin and taking in deep breaths that forced the nearby tables and chairs to contort and flow in milky waves splashing along a rock ceiling and dripping down as melting vanilla stalagmites.
I awoke sweating, something I thought only happened to better-looking people, and kept whispering to myself the same set of words: why had no one noticed the tits?
In my experience the sight of bare tits used to be front page news.
82 was a particularly good year, and I remember Heather Pearson changing in the stall next to me for the Johnny Appleseed Parade, a fluorescent glow seeping through a chipped plywood wall seeming to blow gently on the nearby green cloth between us.
But something devastating had happened in the years since, and as far as I could tell, it was a complete annihilation of sexual arousal and recognition. In my mind, this was not simply an expected phase in human development, but rather a strange plague threatening to devour the very nature of excitement.
It was a strange surge of nonchalance, and a local NBC affiliate in Kansas City proved this by hiring a woman’s breasts to stand in for the recently fired weather anchor, as the producer read the upcoming week’s forecast in voice over.
I was confused and began having visions of high school pep rallies, the sun sweeping across the tips of freshly cut grass, and ordinary animal mascots replaced with giant paper mache tits, hundreds of strands of paper gently rising and lowering to the breeze like excited hairs, and a gang of shirtless, body-painted students charging the tits with baseball bats and smacking them, breaking them apart and filling their hands and mouths with candy now spilling out of the tattered nipples.
It was an unfortunate inevitability. I needed to find a way to combat this, so I traveled to the county museum hoping to gain some insight.
I stepped inside the museum and made my way to the medieval European chamber.
As I looked about, I realized that each painting within the chamber depicted a nude woman.
There were pieces by Botticelli, Cranach and Peter Paul Rubens. But it was a painting by Francisco de Goya featuring a woman lying on a bed surrounded by the dismembered parts of a butchered cow that caught my attention.
In that moment it all seemed very clear to me, and as history has shown us, it often takes a room filled with numerous ten-foot tall, 15th century pastel vaginas to add clarity to the taxing, complex issues of daily existence.
As the blue overtook me, I could only think of one answer: the Europeans.
I gathered from decades of television watching, digital streaming and assumed notions of how the world operated that the Europeans had for nearly a millennia been portraying bare female breasts not as a rare occurrence in nature, but something as common and mundane as a household appliance.
I realized that because of European recklessness the sacred nature of tits was in jeopardy, and that 20 years from now bras would be used instead as a fuel source, powering large scale dams and Asian bullet trains.
I felt a pull at my temples telling me to take action and do something, but what?
A parade or protest was out of the question. I was never any good with assembling signs or painting poster board, so I thought perhaps an essay would have the greatest chance for success.
I still had some pull at Honey Magazine, although in the years since I left the focus had moved from apiology to evolving techniques in sexual fetishism, which I thought could be perfect for my manifesto.
Nic Green had been the editor-in-chief for nearly twenty years, guiding the magazine through all its various incarnations.
Short and often wearing a pin-striped suit he had made during his college days, he would pace about the room with a pet cockatoo named Mortimer on his shoulder, and would feed it watermelon seeds right out of his mouth, allowing the bird to lean over and grip onto the moist pellet, moving it down its throat in a sort of reverse cough, flapping and shaking its body into a flickering white flame.
He also had a champagne bucket he claimed belonged to Hitler, where he would keep bright red apples chilling on round balls of ice, the bodies of the fruit seeping into the melting pool near the bottom.
“Tits, huh,” Nic said, a seed sticking out of the side of his mouth.
“I’m telling you, it’s probably the most vital expose on the state of tits in America since Susan Sontag,” I replied looking for a place to sit down but finding only what seemed to be stacks of encyclopedias.
“We do a lot of tit stories. Remind me, what’s the angle?”
“It examines how the Europeans have tried to force their views of tit banality on us.”
“I thought the Europeans love tits.”
“It’s all a glossy masquerade. Their overexposure of tits has led to a worldwide desensitization of the female nipple. It’s genocide-level tragic really.”
He reached down and took an apple from the bucket, sinking his teeth into it and sending a spray of juice flying onto one of Mortimer’s wings.
“I’m not sure I want to jeopardize our European readership,” Nic said polishing the remaining half the apple on his blazer. “What if we did something on asses? Solid sources are telling me about an ass resurgence going on in the Caribbean right now. I’m talking about stuff we haven’t even seen before.”
Prior to Honey, Nic had made his name as a junior editor at Esquire, telling anyone who would listen about the impending ass renaissance that would dominate the 70s.
“So it’s 67 and I meet this brunette. Cute girl with one of those Old Testament asses. A real ship stopper you know. And I’m going on and on to George Lois that he needs to put this ass on the cover. And what does he do? He sticks the girl in a goddamn trashcan. Now, what kind of way is that to treat an ass? You tell me.”
“That’s why bringing the public’s attention to this issue is so vital right now.”
“Asses are safer, son. Tits come with a lot of baggage."
“But can you imagine the potential revolution we have on our hands. There will be widespread outrage and upheaval. Boy scouts and little league teams will be selling caramel for the betterment of tits. People will be excited again, and they’ll look back and say it all started with you,” I shouted, accidentally knocking over a world atlas from 87.
He stared into a nearby window, his reflection disappearing into the distant skyscrapers.
“I can give you a hundred bucks for a thousand words, but I might have to cut that down If I get a solid ad offer,” he said, the cockatoo now dipping its beak into the breast pocket of his jacket.
I rushed home, sat down at the kitchen table and began to write.
I could see the devolution of tits right in front of me; exploitation by Augustus Caesar, Charlemagne creating tit-shaped domes, topless Turkish women brandishing swords against the Byzantine Empire, Jan Van Eyck’s The Ghent Altarpiece Eve, and of course Peter Paul Rubens, flesh surrounded by lions and serpents, conch shells spewing water onto the wings of Pegasus, and warm mounds of flesh, joined together through lace, milk and crucifixion, an old man’s bearded lips licking the tips of nipples as Medusa’s severed head washes upon the shore.
Warm mounds of flesh. That’s what I would call the piece, and as I reached the back page of my notebook, I found an old list of my likes and dislikes from a period in my life when I conferred and created value as a compulsion to guarantee the necessary elements for existence.
Things I like: The smell of freshly mowed grass, doing pull ups, fishing, bow ties, sushi, running mascara when a woman cries, rainy days, John Coltrane, hot sauce, fantasizing about women while eating vanilla sandwich crèmes, reading, urinating, tea, staying in hotels, the sound of a typewriter, whiskey, walking.
Things I dislike: Sleeping, mayonnaise, karaoke, mud drying on hands, alcoholics, suicide, drinking games, women wearing pajama pants in public, refried beans, baby strollers, licorice, preachers, waiting in a line, loud bars, polo shirts, torture, creationism, fast food.
I picked up my pen and crossing out the word urinating and wrote tits right above it.
A week had passed since I submitted the piece, and was supposed to be receiving a contributor’s copy by the day’s end.
The mail suddenly came pouring through the slot, and rushing over I took a hold of the manila envelope and ripped it open, flipping the copy of Honey to page 62 where Nic said the article would be.
Finally coming to the page, I opened the magazine wide and found the two page spread to be composed of one giant bare ass.
A dim light washed across the surfaces, moles and faded scars like the crags of a desert stretching off into a darkness reflecting the ceiling fan spinning behind me.
I looked near the bottom of the ass and found the caption, “Warm Mounds Of Flesh: A year in review of the best up-and-coming asses from around the world.”
I lowered the magazine and heard the beep of my Timeglow, indicating it was Monday.
Sweat gathered on my forehead, and as I looked out the window I noticed a neighbor girl across the street selling what looked to be jars filled with colored sand.
I closed my eyes and imagined myself on a beach. As I scrunched sand between my toes, I spotted a schooner in the distance on the open water, its sails rising and flapping in the wind, and on the main deck, a pair of giant tits resting at the helm.
With each crashing wave the schooner moved further away and the giant nipples grew larger until there was only the cawing of gulls and a burning sunset illuminating the horizon.
I opened my eyes and gathered my keys from the coffee table.
I was hungry. The kind of hunger only guacamole and a dwarf elephant would cure.