10/14/2014 02:20 pm ET Updated Dec 13, 2014

Don't Knock the Knockers

Beth Markley

When it comes to breasts, there are perky ones, ones that are droopy, lumpy, springy, teensy, full or pointy.

The best thing I can say about mine is that they can clear a room.

I was thinking about this as I was deciding on an ensemble this morning. This was after spending probably a nanosecond too long trying to rationalize wearing yoga pants to a meeting. I couldn't. I settled on comfortable slacks,and threw a lightweight blouse on. I'd forgotten about the neckline on the thing. It was plunging.

Was I revealing too much? Might something pop out unexpectedly?

Then my reflection and I shared a little laugh, because the only time something is likely to spring from my blouse is if I'm smuggling monkeys from a jungle.

When it comes to the chest area, I'm under-endowed. In fact, I need to breathe deep and hold it in order to completely fill an A-Cup. The lingerie section for people my size is a stone's throw from the My Pretty Pony and Princess Ariel pajamas.

No one would ever look at me in that blouse and think: Dang, girl, be careful, you might knock someone out with them knockers.

My underwhelming bosom is particularly sad considering I showed such potential in that area, at least right at first.

I started developing early. By the seventh grade I had bigger breasts than my stick-thin ballet instructor who frowned on bras. She said they created an unsightly line under our leotards. with her guidance, I spent the better part of a year or two as Little Miss Jiggles, with a whole lot more moving around up front than anyone probably wanted to witness.

In high school, I ran cross-country. This was prior to the invention of the functional exercise bra, so I ran in a tortuous contraption that rivaled the torpedo boob thing Madonna later popularized in her Blonde Ambition tour in the 1990s. Given Madonna's subsequent fashion choices, my running bra was pretty cutting edge, but not terribly supportive.

Thus, at the time I was developing as an adolescent, I was also wreaking havoc on all the foundational musculature that would later prove important to keeping me from looking like I belonged in a National Geographic photo spread.

This fact would render me a perpetual loser in the age-old boob comparison ritual typical of the high school girls' post-gym class shower. My whole front section looked like it belonged to a middle-aged woman by the time I was 16. A set of dessert plate-sized areolas didn't help.

Then in college, there was the 'pencil test:"proof positive that young women with any amount of free time will spend it destroying their self-esteem.

The contest had something to do with how many pencils one could carry in the crook under her breast.

Don't judge. It's a life skill. Like using the proper silverware at dinner.

Anyway, the lack of ability to carry any pencils meant that you were either a boy or that you had the perkiest tits this side of puberty.

By that age, I could carry a couple pencils and a math text under one boob and probably stash a sandwich and a can of Coke under the other if I tried.

Another life skill, I'm sure.

Things would never get any better short of surgical intervention.

There was a point, however, at which my breasts experienced moderate fame and popularity due to their abilities as world-class producers. I could nurse babies like a champ, and for that reason breastfeeding was an experience I prolonged as long as possible. My kids were lucky I weaned them before eighth grade.

But weaning did happen. And then I got back into running (better bras these days). And stuff in that area just kept shrinking.

Today, I rival Grace Jones in my ability to wear a sport coat over absolutely nothing else without revealing anything except an exceptional lack of decorum.

But these things still have a purpose.

Every night we try like hell to enforce a reasonable bedtime for our boys. It's not that we're overly concerned about how much sleep they get. We just don't want to wait forever to be able to watch Orange is the New Black on Netflix without the need to explain soft core prison porn to a couple of adolescent boys.

As luck would have it, we still have an 11-year-old who is mortified to witness people kissing on television, or to catch one of us changing clothes.

Oh, yeah. We use that.

"You all can stay up as late as you want," their dad will say as the pre-bedtime ritual gets rolling. "Mom and I are just going to talk about stuff like boobies, so if that kind of thing doesn't bother you, feel free to hang around."

We don't really talk about breasts, but the possibility will send certain people around here scrambling from the room, quick as a wink.

So, you know, boobies. The kind that will clear a room. I got 'em right here.

A version of this article was posted earlier on Beth Markley's blog.

Image by BazzDaRambler