Friday, December 14, 2012

A not quite SFW post on adjectives

I'll admit to being hesitant about posting this--though, really, what ground has any blogger who has used the term "grandmotherfucker" (In context! In its vampirism-causing context!) to stand on? And it's Friday, and my brain feels as if it's been microwaved, on the gentle but thorough magneto-massage setting, by the unrelenting past month or so of work . . . so here goes.

I should say at the start that it's hideously unfair to do what I'm about to do to Marco Roth's intelligent, richly self-analytic, impressive memoir The Scientists (2012). It's wrong to reduce it to a single question about a misplaced adjective--and by doing so, I really don't intend to belittle the book. It's a good book, and it deserves praise and readers.

But I've not been able to get this one little word out of my head since I read it a week ago. I'll give you the whole paragraph; let's see if you spot it:
From a hands-on perspective, my teenage sexual orientation had been neither home nor hetero but auto, from which, I supposed, one could plausibly conclude that my favorite sexual organ must be the penis. Yet it was plain to me that I wasn't interested in anyone's penis but my own, and my imagination liked to pretend I was actually stroking the fine long breasts of some eagerly glimpsed girl, or that my hand had somehow found its way between her stockinged thighs, which rubbed together as she walked away from me down the block.
Did you spot it?

"Long"? "Long"? Our breast-obsessed society has, post-Hefner, given us countless words to describe breasts, almost as many as Edmund Wilson collected for drunkenness: round, full, perky, high, pendulous, etc. But "long"? Has anyone ever before praised breasts as "long"? That would be like, I don't know, hailing a man's abs as "wide," or his . . . well, it's Friday and I must away.

Enjoy the weekend, folks.


  1. andrea10:38 PM

    But wait--he did write "fine long" and not just "long." So it's the kind of long that is also fine. Does that help at all? We don't want you traumatized1

  2. Oh this is going to haunt me. I've seen "long" breasts in equally weird context. Somewhere. Somewhere.