By: Tomas Moniz
The number of muscles in the human body depends on how you define muscle, whether voluntary or not, whether smooth, skeletal or cardiac. To make matters worse, I propose adding these to the list: the muscles needed to try again and again, the muscle it takes to speak out even when you are scared and the muscle it takes to stay your tongue, be quiet, and just listen, the muscle to love again even though you know it will be painful, the muscle to let go and trust, the muscle to lay yourself bare to others, the muscle it takes to be alone, the muscle needed to love yourself.
Things I have touched with my tongue: my brother, this drunk woman’s unshaved armpit after a dare at the very first Coachella concert, jalapeños, soap when my father tried to wash the word ‘fuck’ out of my mouth, fine wine, really, really cheap wine, the soft moist dirt hidden under stones, bugs accidentally inhaled while biking, assorted body parts, lifesavers, toothbrushes, three small furry animals, my mother’s nipples, my father’s silence, my own fear, my shame, my remorse, my pleasure.
My mother never wore a bra; instead, she regularly wore shirts that said, ‘flat is beautiful’ or ‘boobies are for babies,’ her little breasts hanging low, her nipples arrogant, hard, always poking through the material. It embarrassed me. When I was 15, I asked her as she was getting dressed why, why she didn’t even own a bra. She turned to me shirtless and asked, ‘do you know the reason men have nipples?’ ‘No,’ I shrugged. She said, ‘to remind them of what they could have been.’