Queen of the B Cup
    Melanie Hauser
Slender. That is the word. Slender. Just say it, slowly. Now close your eyes and visualize what it is. I see tall, swaying reeds. I see tender young saplings. I see Donna Pearson, that bitch.

I was supposed to be Queen of my High School. I was talented. I was smart. I was, if I looked in the mirror after spending an entire Saturday afternoon huddled with a “Seventeen” magazine and some Bonnie Bell make-up, almost pretty.

But I didn’t account for Donna Pearson. She was tall; I was short. She was blonde; I was brunette.

She was slender. I was not. I had hips. Slender people do not have hips. I had a waist that went in, like an “S.” She had long legs, with no visible difference between the circumferences of thigh and calf. Did I mention that I was short?

Please understand; I was cute. That’s what everyone said of me – “You’re really cute. You have such a cute figure.” And I really did, back then. I did have a cute figure, one that I never appreciated until I lost it. It was curvy in all the right places. I really did have great breasts, a nice ass. I’m still waiting for them to rise again, like the South.

But no one ever said Donna Pearson was cute. Beautiful, classic, slender – that’s what they said about her.

One day, senior year, Donna and I went to rent some costumes for a Halloween party. We always pretended that we were best friends, not fearsome rivals. At least, I did. She probably did think we were best friends. She probably knew, in a way that I could not, that we were never really rivals. How could we be? She was slender. I was not.

It was a shabby place, the kind where you sniffed the armpits of the costumes thrust at you by a toothless man wearing a stained bowling shirt. You suspected that these were costumes left behind by a consumptive vaudeville troupe, even though you weren’t quite sure what either consumption or vaudeville was, only that both were popular about a hundred years ago.

There were just two costumes left. Oh, there were others, clown costumes and Keystone Cop costumes and ladybug costumes – costumes that two high school girls who wanted to attract the same carelessly handsome high school boy would never even consider wearing.

Trey Duncan. The unspoken prize, the reason we were at the costume shop in the first place. In past years, we would have worn our father’s old baggy shirts and pants and gone as hoboes. But not this year. This was the year we discovered things – that there is no such thing as too much lip gloss; that hips can be swiveled and sashayed even while walking down a crowded hallway with twenty pounds of school books in your arms; that some boys are more attractive when reflected in the lustful eyes of your pretend-best friend.

So the toothless man showed us the last two sexy costumes – a dance hall girl and a Spanish dancer. I really, really, really, wanted to be the dance hall girl. Donna Pearson, that bitch, was nice enough to let me choose first. Oh, how I hated her!

But hating her didn’t stop me from choosing first. I snatched the dance hall girl costume and ran to the faded little shower-curtain. I somehow squeezed out of my Levis with my tennis shoes on, nearly breaking an ankle. I stepped into the black lacy costume, flounced skirt and tight sleeveless bodice, sexy without being slutty. (This was before the advent of Madonna, and slutty was slutty. Period.)

But it didn’t fit. Two of the snaps in the back didn’t quite meet. I sucked in my non-existent tummy. I almost dislocated my shoulders trying to squeeze the stubborn snaps together. For one glorious moment I succeeded. I beamed at my sexy dance hall girl self in the mirror, imagining how Trey Duncan’s aquamarine eyes would widen, how his horny little penis would stand at attention, when I sashayed into the room. And then I breathed.

Pop! Pop! And for good measure, two more pops, from traitorous snaps that hadn’t given me any trouble in the first place.

There was nothing to be done. I tried and tried. I pinched my puppy fat in frustration, only to find I had none. The problem, you see, was of a more sinister nature.

The problem was my breasts. These new found wonders, these glories, these orbs. But they were too big. How could that be? Wasn’t it just a couple of years ago that they weren’t big enough?

There was really nothing I could do about it, short of surgery. No crash diet. No torturous undergarment. It was just one more cruel twist of nature, of hubris – to lose out to Donna Pearson by a cup!

I stalked out of the dressing room and threw the dance hall girl costume at Donna Pearson. That bitch. “I really think I’d like to be the Spanish senorita. Ole!” I smiled weakly.

Donna nodded enthusiastically.

“You’ll look just great in that, Marley! I know – we’ll do your make up really dark and exotic. You’ll look so cute!”

If my mantilla had been fastened to a sharp comb, I would have stabbed her on the spot.

Of course, despite my fervent prayers, the dance hall girl costume fit Donna Pearson. It was even, oh, there really was no God in high school, a little big on her. She wore it anyway, with a glamorous feather headpiece. She drew a sultry beauty mark on her cheek. She looked stunning.

And me? Well, I looked cute, if sullen. Sullenly cute, like a Kewpie doll with a fan. Trey Duncan danced once with me and my breasts. He danced five times with Donna Pearson and her buds.

He also danced, for a long, long, long, long time, with Barry Sherman and his penis. (Outside in the dark, when every one else but me was inside, playing Murder.)


Years later, when I thought I was a grown up, I had a fiancée. (The fiancée didn’t stick, but that’s another story.)

And the fiancée and I had a conversation one night. It went something like this:

“I lost five pounds!”


Fiancé kept his head in the magazine he was reading.

“Yes! Larry came up to me today at work and said he’d never seen me looking so slender!”


Fiancé looked up from his magazine.

“Really,” he continued, frowning at me, studying me. I smiled modestly, and sucked in my non-existent tummy. He shook his head, then fixed his beady little rodent eyes on my chest.

“Slender is just not a word I would ever use to describe you.” He didn’t have to say the word “cute”.

I wish I could say I took the magazine and slashed him with it. I wish I could say I then strutted around his convulsing body like Mick Jagger in concert, laughing maniacally as he bled to death from thousands of little paper cuts. I really, really wish I could say that.

But I can’t.

I can say, though, that an image of slender passed through my mind – of tall swaying reeds, of tender young saplings, of a beautiful, tall blonde wearing a sexy black dress.

"That bitch," I whimpered, crossing my arms over my breasts.


Do you think Donna Pearson ever pined to be cute? Do tall people ever want to be short? Do slender people ever desire curves?

No. And I will die a bitter saggy old woman because of it.

But - I will die with a secret that will bring a smile to my bitter, saggy corpse.

I know, you see, that she truly cared for Trey. Unlike me, who really just wanted him because she did. And so, on a certain drunken night after graduation, when Trey Duncan and Barry Sherman disappeared into a dark bedroom and strange moans, strange because they were both so identically deep and masculine, gradually emerged, drowning out the "Rocky Horror Picture Show" cast album, Donna Pearson’s slender body did something odd.

It bent, not unlike a willowy reed, over a white porcelain toilet as her stomach rebelled against cheap red wine and a broken, confused heart.

So we were all waiting, waiting for something, for someone, waiting to be someone, else. Trey was. I was. And even Donna Pearson – who turned out not to be the Queen of our High School that year, after all; even Donna Pearson was.

Melanie Hauser is a Chicago-area author, wife and mother. Her short story,"Prodigy on Ice," won the 2001 WBEZ (Chicago's Public Radio Station) stories on Stage short story contest. The story was performed before a live audience, and will be broadcast during the fall 2002 season. She has authored a column on writing for an online newsletter, -30-, as well as a column for a Chicago-area parenting magazine. A short story is being published on "The WritersNet Anthology," a collaboration of online writing partners. She is currently working on a short story collection and a novel.


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