The Eskimos have a vocabulary rich in verbs. They also have a multitude of words for what we cover in one: “snow.” The live by knowing the differences in the various kinds of frozen precipitation, and their vocabulary reflects this importance. In fact, a language’s words reveal much about a culture’s values. As the Eskimos have many words for “snow,” Americans have multiple words for the female breasts.

Johnny Carson once introduced Sophia Loren this way: “And now, ladies and gentlemen, here they are, Sophia Loren.” That pretty much sums it up for the place of significance these lovely objects assume in the typical male heirarchy of values. As far as necessities, there’s a air, water, and boobs, not in that order.

With this mammorial introduction, we present today’s guest columnist, Felix Carroll, and his delightful rites de passage essay that will be familiar to every guy out there who was once a kid. We hope you enjoy this break from politics, genocide, and the Pittsfield city council. Carroll’s article was first published in the Cape Cod Times. He gave us this version, specifically for The Planet. We thank him.

Warning: This column contains nudity

My friend Kurt Schmucker had a wild streak that ran like a hairline fracture through his mother’s china, out into the neighborhood and through my childhood.

In every father's drawer, in every family's attic.

That fateful day, we opened the doors to one of our hiding spots, a basement bulkhead to an American Legion hall next door to my house. Upon closing the doors tight against the daylight, Kurt pulled out a penlight, clicked it on and handed it to me. Then he pulled out the contraband from his jacket: one of his father’s Playboy magazines he pilfered from the attic. Our 10-year-old hearts thumped as we flipped through it. “Wait, go back.” “Wait, hold on.” And there they were: naked females with their mysterious body parts, fearfully and wonderfully made.

Kurt and I were not newcomers to images of naked women. By the time we had pointed that penlight beam upon the pages of Playboy we had already logged many hours down in the perpetually chilly basement of our community library, where we had chiseled our way like horny-toed archaeologists along the yellow, sedimentary layers of aged National Geographic magazines, unearthing photo features of bare-breasted Aborigines.

When we came upon those photos, we’d point, gaze, and then memorize the month and year of the issue for future reference. In retrospect, while we certainly believed we were pressing into the forbidden zone, the matter-of-fact presentations of those bare boobs of the outback provided us with no way forward. Devoid of the sensual, they were mere anatomical facts.

Inside, what wonders there were to behold!

Sometimes, if you got lucky, National Geo would have boobs! Boobs! Boobs!

Still, we’d stare, we’d giggle, but ultimately the joke was on us. Those women stared right back as if to say, “What are you looking for?” From whence they came — the red dirt of slow-tempered survival — a bare-breasted woman hauling a basket of papayas bore only one genus of orb worth salivating over: the papayas, not the boobs. None of this registered with us. We saw boobs. Hey, look, boobs!

And for us, National Geographic boobs naturally served as gateway boobs to Playboy magazine boobs, which had nothing to do with cold anatomy and everything to do with a better life ahead, an incentive for growing up and becoming men so that we might take up residence within the hemisphere of feminine beauty and its occupants.

Not that we could have verbalized that at the time. But I do remember, even then, staring at those photos in Playboy and wishing to crawl down deeper into the darkness of that bulkhead and to somehow emerge on the other side of that camera lens so as to talk with those women to try to sort things out.

As Kurt and I flipped through the pages, from come-hither look to come-hither look, it was as if an egg had cracked in our collective consciousness. Something was hatched. Maybe this is what it feels like to take that first addictive hit of crack cocaine. Or maybe this is what Dorothy felt when she awoke to that color-saturated world, confused, enticed, trusting and not trusting as she was led onto that yellow brick road that begins in a dizzying spiral.

Oh, what wonders there were to behold.

We covered the magazine in leaves and exited our hideout. We went out to the front lawn of the American Legion, clambered onto the World War I cannon, took aim at Mr. Synnot’s house and commenced firing imaginary artillery until everything was left in imaginary ruins. Sigmund Freud would have laughed till he peed himself.

That evening, back home, I felt shame. Shame is that exclusively human sentiment that extends back to when Adam sunk his teeth into the forbidden fruit and suddenly felt the need to privatize his privates. As you may recall, God then handcuffed Adam and that woman, Miss Eve, and gave them a lift outside of town where their misshapen desires were commanded to conform to a T-square.

This, of course, is where I live still, outside of Eden, along with pretty much everyone else. But lately I’m feeling like I need to gather up my wife and boy and head back to that Garden and plow the fields of the Lord, if for no other reason but to shield my son from the ubiquitous emotionless, reckless, toxic pornography that can now be accessed in seconds through smart phones holstered to your child’s book bag. This stuff ain’t Playboy. If Caligula were around to see this, he’d turn from his hoofed counsel and adjust his eyes.

Will my boy eventually view this trash with his own Kurt Schmucker? Of course he will. Who can stop it? It’s all there on broadband. Everything is settled. All you sex-ed teachers can now put away that banana and condom and find new employment. All you apple knockers seeking the knowledge of good and evil can put away your cartography instruments because latitude is now off the charts.

Dear Lord, send us the fig leaves.


And not too skimpy.

Felix Carroll is a writer. He lives in Monterey.


  1. Dee
    February 23, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    *laughing* I actually thought this was a satirical headline describing the six boobs from last nights city council meeting trying to approve (justify) another assistant mayor.

    Save the ta-tas (.) (.)

    Thanks Dan,

    boob boob a loo

  2. Carol
    February 23, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    Best laugh I have had all week…….you boob………I delight in the artistry of elocution here…….painting a picture that all mankind can identify with…….thanks from one of the subject matter

  3. GMHeller
    February 23, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

    Dan Valenti goes from obsessing about the Israelis to fantasizing about women’s breasts.
    It must be mid-winter in Berkshire County.

  4. ambrose bearse
    February 23, 2011 at 5:56 pm #

    Holy of holies, is this bachelor of so many years actually going to get to touch a woman – wow – will that be a reward as big as nancy fitz’s free meals for that great scoop – let us know – we thought for sure you’ld die wondering – sorry BB, he beat you to it again – mammories, may be beautiful and yet, those to tiny to re mem… oh forget it…

  5. Aleceea12
    February 23, 2011 at 6:27 pm #

    It is natural curiosity for boys to look at Playboy. However, it is scary to know that our children can gain access to pornographic material so easily on the internet.

  6. Bored102
    February 24, 2011 at 7:08 am #

    Interesting read and something I had not thought about. The discover of the female anatomy is an innocent and curious venture, brought on by the fact that young boys don’t know it isn’t a secret. Unfortunately, now the internet will feed anyone an excess of pornography, without prejudice. Yesterday’s pornography is made to look like fine art when compared to that of today. Many children know as much about computers as their parents, and can easily find ways to access pornography, even as easily as using Google.

  7. Joetaxpayer
    February 24, 2011 at 7:43 am #

    Thought this article was some kind of boobie trap.

  8. Sandy102
    February 24, 2011 at 8:30 am #

    Boobs and boys…..boobs and men….oh boy when you were 10….nothing changes.

  9. Son of Samantha
    February 24, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    @DAN Hope your wife of 30 yrs doesn’t know you’re a bachelor as that idiot Ambrose exhales above. he obviously has a crush on you. Mr. carroll has written a lovely story of growing up. thanks for publishing. Now I can go back and read the hard news in the BB: 1/2 front page tooth decay and kids. Wows

    • ambrose bearse
      February 24, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

      wife of like 5 years

      • danvalenti
        February 24, 2011 at 2:01 pm #

        Let me dish THE FACTS: Both of you guys are wrong. Married 16 years to my bride, in loving relationship for 30!! Everyday is still paradise.

        • Eadie
          February 26, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

          Well said.

  10. Mike
    February 24, 2011 at 11:44 am #

    Can we expect an equally thoughtful consideration of the femaie tush, for which there are at least as many words and terms of endearment as the breast boasts?

  11. ava 102
    February 24, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

    I believe that it is normal for all young boys to be curious about a womans body, but sad they feel ashamed. We should not make a big deal over naked pictures, just have control over what are kids see. Boobs are just boobs!!

  12. bec4787
    February 24, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    It’s always nice to see humor added to a contentious subject. Even I was guilty of sneaking a peek. Why the hell not? And he’s right – Freud would have a field day with our generation. But who needs National Geographic these days? I caught my 13 year old brother on YouPorn a week ago (a website like YouTube with free porn 24/7 ..your welcome). Don’t worry though – your kids are safe. The website makes you confirm you’re over the age of 18 before you can enter. How? By clicking a button that says “Over 18.” Funny. Today, most 10 year olds I know are more capable of clicking a button on a website than the large percentage of adults who can’t even find the button that turns on the damn computer!

    • danvalenti
      February 24, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

      A most intelligent, well thought-out, and sassy response. Well done!

  13. shell
    February 24, 2011 at 4:54 pm #

    Great article. Nothing wrong with being a little curious. Isn’t that what being young is all about?

  14. kiki
    February 24, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

    Yes, it is natural for young people to be curious about sex in general. Although I think a more interesting question to ask is, what are the affects that publications such as Playboy, have on young girls? Should young females grow up believing that they are nothing but sex objects?

  15. violet
    February 24, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    It saddens me that the sight of boobs can evoke feelings of shame from boys. Our society is simultaneously repressed and over sexualized. Many states have laws in place making public breastfeeding exempt from public indecency laws. It is pathetic that there is a need for such laws to even exist. We actually have to pass laws to protect the rights of using our breasts for what they were intended for. If you were breastfed, it is likely you have never looked at another set of boobs with greater admiration. Sorry boys, you loved your momma’s first. Breasts should not be a taboo. Keep the sex ed teachers, improve the curriculum.

    • Eadie
      February 26, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

      I agree.

  16. katie
    February 24, 2011 at 8:50 pm #

    Great article. I can still hear the group of boys in class, snickering in the corner as they flip through the National Geographics our art teacher kept. These boys, however, happened to be sixteen and seventeen years old at the time. Sure, they have an internet of boob viewing opportunity at their fingertips. But hey, boobs are boobs.

  17. Nataliia
    February 24, 2011 at 11:52 pm #

    Great article! I enjoyed reading this story, because it’s truthful. People like to know somebody else’s stories, especially when they can correlate themselves with the author or the main hero. Women’s or man’s body has always been a “forbidden fruit” for kids; and it is natural! You’d better think that there is something wrong with your child if he or she is not interested in the anatomy of the body, in general, not just boobs.:)) I even remember myself having found some magazines and books that belonged to my parents (that I was not supposed to see, of course), and I was so curious!!! At least I didn’t learn it outside my home… And, of course, we had no computer…that facilitates satisfying kids’ needs, but not parents’ ones! And we are powerless here, because information progress goes just forward!

  18. Uncle Albert
    February 25, 2011 at 8:26 am #

    Great article and posting. The writer makes a serious point at the end: what good can come from arming kids with adult bookstores via smart phones where they can syurf porn on the net unsupervised. this is a terrible development for society. I speak as a parent with young teens. terrble problem. gives boys an unrealistic picture of women. gives girls nothing but problems when they think their bodies don’t mathc up to perfection shown on the net

  19. Angela
    February 25, 2011 at 9:14 am #

    I have a crush on Felix.

  20. Angela
    February 25, 2011 at 9:14 am #

    Oh, and you, too, Dan.

  21. Jon
    February 25, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    Talk about a flashback to my childhood. I can remeber looking at my dads national geographic books with my brother and throwing pornos out the window so i could walk out of the house without my dad saying “what have you got there?”

  22. Eadie
    February 26, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    I guess that is a flashback for me as well. I don’t really see any harm in magazines such as Playboy. For the most part youngsters generally look at them together. They joke and wonder if that is what women really looks like. And as they find out, for the most part, the majority of the boys that see these magazines as youngsters will never see women that perfect in their lifetime. Without at least paying for it that is. So I think it is okay. I myself don’t just look at the pictures anymore; I actually read the articles now.

  23. bk4u
    March 1, 2011 at 10:52 pm #

    i love boobs and my first encounter with them was very similar to this one. however i never stopped to think how i will attempt to shield the eyes of my children for at least a little while, but the author and i know it will be an uphill battle that we are sure to lose.