Clavicular knobs

A friend recently was approached on Scruff (the hookup site for men) by this young man — way too young for my friend and a continent away, but nevertheless worth a few moments of contemplation:

(#1) (some hair means ‘some torso hair, lightly furred chest’, no reference to his head hair)

No doubt others will have dwelt first on other of Richardo’s features, but I was immediately struck by the protruding knobs at the ends of his clavicles. Because my first male lover, from 50 years ago (the pseudonymous Danny of my writings about my sexual life), had them, and so did my man Jacques, and that means I look at them with great affection.

The clavicles are quite visible in lean men, but only a few of those men have the sweet bony handles.

(I’m haunted by the feeling that the knobs have a name, possibly both a technical anatomical name and one or more vernacular names, and that I once knew at least one name for them, but at the moment I’m at a nomenclatural loss. As it turns out, Danny shares both of these feelings; details below.)

Notes on Ricardo’s body. The toasty tan, glistening in the Mediterranean sun. Eyes crinkling in the glare. The taut, lean, fit body. The fashionable haircut. The ear stud. The interesting stying of his facial hair, which might also be a fashion (I just don’t know). And that ear, decidedly baroque — not your standard off-the-shelf ear.

But mostly the clavicles, stretching visibly from shoulder to shoulder, with little handles at each end.

Clavicles. From Wikipedia:


The clavicle or collarbone is a long bone that serves as a strut between the shoulder blade and the sternum or breastbone. There are two clavicles, one on the left and one on the right. The clavicle is the only long bone in the body that lies horizontally. Together with the shoulder blade it makes up the shoulder girdle. It is a touchable bone and in people who have less fat in this region, the location of the bone is clearly visible, as it creates a bulge in the skin. It receives its name from the Latin: clavicula (“little key”) because the bone rotates along its axis like a key when the shoulder is abducted.

Visible clavicles are commonplace, but knobby ones are rare. I have many hundreds of photos of shirtless athletes, actors, underwear models, and gay pornstars with first-class — but all knobless — clavicles, like those on Olympic champion swimmer Ryan Lochte here:

(#3) Just a bit of a bump at the clavicle ends, and even those are unusual

Danny was fascinated by my observations. E-mail from him earlier today:

Strangely, I never noticed those knobs until about eight years ago.  When I first saw them in the mirror one day, I went looking through old photos to see if they were already there when I was younger — I thought they might be a recent pathology. But I didn’t have any shirtless photos.  Good to know from you that they were with me even back in my 20s.

Until Danny said this, it hadn’t occurred to me to think of the knobs as a pathology. A rare variant, yes, abnormal in the purely statistical sense. But in no way a disease or malfunction, any more than the very rare AB-negative blood type is.

Actually, I think of them as charming oddities, to be treasured for their ornamental value.

But what are they called? Danny and I are racking our brains.

4 Responses to “Clavicular knobs”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    Re Ricardo: ‘some torso hair, lightly furred chest’: Not evident (to my eyes anyway) in that photo. Also, what’s going on with the outside of his right shoulder?

    I too have a clavicle paraphilia, but it’s for the hollow space above the inner end of the collar-bone; a deep hollow there (wombat rare, although I think less so than the knob) is a place I love to explore.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      “Some hair” in this context means anything other than totally smooth.

      But that right shoulder thing is a bit worrisome; it looks like a piece of uncorrected image manipulation. Suggesting that the image is significantly manufactured rather than natural. I understand that the idea that a hook-up site might offer something other than raw selfies is distressing, but the hard truth is that it’s been known to happen.

      Oh, the hollow space. You are not by any means alone (not one of my special tastes, but I’ve had the opportunity of offering mine to aficionados). Oh sigh, surely *it* has a name too, but I don’t know it.

  2. Roger Phillips Says:

    It’s not in Merriam-Webster, but all my British dictionaries have “saltcellar” for the collarbone pit. The first OED citation is:
    [1870 O. Logan _Before Footlights_ 26] I was a child of the most uninteresting age..a tall scraggy girl, with red elbows, and salt cellars at my collar-bones, which were always exposed, for fashion at that time made girls of this age uncover neck and arms.

  3. Pete Maloney Says:

    My mom and I have knobby clavicles. I think my niece does too! Between my wife not being a fan and Patrick Mockler making fun of them in eighth grade gym class, I’ve always been a bit self conscious about them. But it’s good to be unique.

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