It was only a matter of time ‘til I wrote about it…the one thing about my corporeal self that I wish I could change. Some would wish for clearer skin, a straighter nose, bigger boobs, fewer wrinkles… Me? I’m a simple girl. I’d just settle for a slightly smaller bum. (Without having to give up cheese, though.)
Let’s talk about the birth of the Culona* Complex.
My first memory of my hinie being of any sort of interest to anyone was at the ripe age seven. Ballet class in upstate NY. My instructor would circle around the studio with a long stick. One day she gingerly smacked my behind with it and said, “Tuck it in!” Huh? I already was tucking! Further tucking while attempting to stand straight would require flexing my knees. I so desperately wanted to be a ballerina, though, that I tried it. The attempt was rewarded with a stick to the knees. What was a girl to do? [Insert ominous, foreshadowing lightning strike and thunder clap here. The complex begins.] I talked to Mamacusa about it. She sighed in understanding and said, “Ahh, yes. Your culo.** It was the hardest thing to push out in labor.” Thanks Mama. Culona Complex Defining Moments 1 & 2.
Next up: High School. Hormones + the utter importance of other peoples’ opinions + a clear ignorance of the fact that tweezers even exist (seriously, my eye brows were OUT of control) = the petri dish in which a healthy culture of teenage insecurity grows. Even for the most confident of individuals. And particularly when one has a father that says things like: “We should take some of that ass of yours and put it where your tits are supposed to be.” I know I’ve quoted him on that one before, but it’s a statement that still echoes through time to disturb me even in my adult life (particularly when I’m trying on jeans with little to no spandex, otherwise known as: the bane of my existence). CCDM 3.
My family has called me "La Culona" for as long as I can remember. (Though, to their credit, when I got my MD, it became "La Doctora Culona.") CCDM’s 4 – 50.
College. In between o-chem and biochem and physiology for my major in Biology, I was taking enough ballet, jazz and modern to fulfill a minor in Dance. So picture me, a 20-year-old culona, in a leotard, in ballet class. Then picture my 200-year-old ballet instructor who, upon commanding everyone in class to make a ¾ turn, looked at me through her cataracts and said, “…except for you, dear. We wouldn’t want the audience to have to see that derrière of yours, now would we?” CCDM 51.
Med school left little time for dating, but on occasion, I got out there. I used to
date, do, hang out with an artist who, from time to time, would draw me. It was funny to watch his eyes go back and forth from me to the paper. I could always tell when he got to my butt. He’d let out a heavy sigh and mumble, just barely audibly, “…the impossible curve.” CCDM 52.
Since then? I’ve heard it all:
“Damn, girl!! You built like a sista!”
“That could take all night!” (That one from my brother, in reply to my sarcastic command to “Kiss my ass!")
“Damn girl, you got DOOKIE!” (This one truly confused me, as I always thought “dookie” referred to excrement. And I was pretty damn sure, at the time, that I wasn’t wearing a diaper full of shit. But whatever.) CCDM’s 53-55.
So there you have it. I’ve got somewhat of a complex. And no amount of cardio, carb cutting, yoga, or miracle butt creams are gonna get rid of it. Despite the fact that J-Lo, for a fleeting moment in wafe-dominated time, made it cool to be bootylicious, and despite the fact that spandex is now a more essential part of denim (thanks to the gluteally gifted Brasilians)…the complex persists. Don’t get me wrong. I know it could be worse…I could have two heads or four nipples or a rectovaginal fistula. But, I’m sure you can understand how I’ve arrived where I am today. I care about my buns in the same way that I’d care about a gigantic harry wart on my nose, or in the way that I’d care for an ugly child of mine. They’re mine. What can I do about it other than accept it?
Which brings me to today. Walking back from parking my car after lunch, in my peripheral vision, I see a van pulling up to the curb nearest me. I look over. An African American “gentleman” peers out from behind a descending driver’s side window.
What I thought he was going to say: “Excuse me. How do I get to Masonic Street from here?”
What he actually said: “I KNOW you eat’cho rice ‘n beans, girl! DAMN!”
What I actually said: Nothing. Speechless, I rolled my eyes in disgust, grunted to myself about how men are pigs, and scurried back to my office.
What I should have said: “Why yes. In fact I do. But I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly.”
*Culona = Spanish for a gal with a large ass.
**Culo = Spanish for ass.
The drawing featured above was an unsolicited caricature drawn of me by a Cuban sidewalk artist who was so compelled by my voluptuousness as to sketch me right then and there. CLEARLY he has no sense of scale in his art as, and anyone who knows me can attest to this, my boobs aren't nearly that big. Not even close.