Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Death, Taxes, and Lost Elasticity

bra_20 by wallygreeninker
bra_20, a photo by wallygreeninker on Flickr.

Death and taxes. And several other pesky things in life......They're here to stay so you might as well put on your big girl panties and put up with them.....

You have to clean the toilets regularly, and sweep the floors, and change the sheets, and feed the natives, and clean up cat barf and straighten the cushions and clear out the newspapers, and make up things to blog about because Isabelle is squemish about pictures of dead squirrels!

Having gotten by with casual clothes for the past decade, you now find that the little part-time job you've taken on requires you to look respectable when you turn up for work, so, in spite of a closet bulging with shorts and jeans, capris and sweatpants, tee shirts and comfy knits, you find yourself with "nothing to wear." And you know they'll frown if you turn up naked....

So, off you go to the store, determined to start at the skin and work your way out. Is there a sight more pathetic than a woman of a certain age in search of underwear? She enters the store in cheerful mood. She's just had a nice lunch and there's a spring in her step. How difficult could it be to find a couple of new bras that will help to restore a semblance of her youthful shape? Intrepidly she approaches the lingerie department. True, it's been a while since she bought the threadbare articles of underwear she is currently wearing. True, they've lost their elasticity. True it's just habit that makes her put them on at all, since they're long past holding anything up, in or together.

But times, it seems, have changed. They're not selling bras anymore. The lingerie department appears to be selling body parts. To wit, matched pairs of bosoms, ringed around with wire.  Rack after rack after rack of them [no pun intended.] White ones, cream ones, beige ones, brown ones, taupe ones, black ones, pink ones, blue ones. Even purple ones.. She inspects them tentatively. They don't need a woman to give them shape. They're already molded into some mad scientist's idea of the perfect womanly shape. She feels embarrassed touching them, as though someone might rear up indignantly and accuse her of taking liberties.

Is it possible that women nowadays, on their deathbeds, can selflessly decide to donate their bosoms to science, or industry, on their demise? To be whisked off to some bosom refurbishment warehouse, sprayed and sanitized, smoothed and buffed and plasticized, then delivered to department stores for sale to the hopeful who have reached that time in life where their elasticity is shot?

They do not hang there limply, waiting to be filled. They are already filled, with some kind of gel, or plastic, or rubber, or foam --- who knows? Back when the earth and I were young they used to call such things "falsies." Something with which to augment your "gifts" if you thought the good Lord had been less than generous. I never owned any, since, from the beginning, I was an advocate of truth in advertising. Not that I ever tried to advertise. The "gifts" were an embarrassment. They got in the way of climbing trees. They made boys smirk. I couldn't see why they had to be introduced at a time when you were already ill at ease in the world, neither a child nor a grownup, and confused about your place in this whole business of living.

 It was my grandmother who pointed out to me [more puns, please pardon] that it was time for desperate measures, not in any verbal way, but by surreptitiously slipping a small package to me as we were leaving after one of our Sunday visits.  Opening it, safely at home in my room, I was mortified to find a little lacy bra. What does it tell you about growing up in the fifties, in Ireland, that evidence of normal, healthy development was cause for embarrassment rather than celebration? Those nuns have a lot to answer for! So now, every day the embarrassing parts in question , which amounted to a barely perceptible swell, had to be maneuvered into ridiculously pointy contraptions designed, undoubtedly, by sadistic males, that made you look anything but natural.

Fortunately, the sixties and flower children and throwing tradition, as well as caution, to the winds, were at hand. Of course those who embraced this new freedom and burned their bras are probably now, in their dotage, carrying their bosoms around in one of those waist packs.

But, I digress. Back to our shopper. Oh, oh. Here she comes, heading towards the door. She looks a little pale. Pale green that is. The cheerful bounce has gone from her step; likewise the gleam from her eyes. Even her hair seems to be drooping dejectedly.  She was brave [or more accurately, foolhardy.] She faced the monster and the monster won. Her ego has been battered. She is still wearing her saggy old undergarments. She has failed to find replacements. She refuses [a glimmer of rebellion still?] to buy body parts when all she came looking for was a simple undergarment.

Her plan? To go home and make a nice strong cup of tea.

And let 'em swing.

20 comments:

patty said...

too too funny, especially the backpack comment

Relatively Retiring said...

Oh dear, so many funny but awful truths here!
After about forty years of wearing the wrong sized bra I found the courage to be measured. Now I may be able to find the right size, but it's likely to be in black and purple lace and be labelled 'balcony bra'.
How scarey is that?
Stick with the safe'n'comfy!

persiflage said...

It is indeed a daunting experience trying to buy bras. Success does not generally reward efforts. My last success was a Simone Perele bra which had no falsies or moulded shapes. It even coped with the disparity in the sizes.
When I was only about 14 or 15 I had a job in a shop which sold mostly handbags, but also bras, and I remember having to help fit a woman who took a double D cup. IO nearly died of embarrassment. Not sure how she coped with her inexpert shop assistant.
However, Molly, if at first you don't succeed....try on, try on and try on again.

Gillie said...

Having been forced to buy the dreaded things both here and in the US, I think it is marginally easier here in the UK to find something in plain cotton, not padded and not wired. Thanks for the laugh, Molly. I can empathise with the nothing to wear. I worked for Whole Foods for 11 years and have never worn a skirt again!

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

The least sporty person in the world , I've taken to wearing sports bras . They hoik me up without making me cone shaped .
This exasperates Youngest Daughter , who goes to a fitter and spends a blink-making amount on underwear . And who , in consequence , looks svelte and elegant , whatever she wears .
I'd rather have root canal surgery than be fitted for a bra , so will just remain decidedly un-svelte .... but no longer wobbly .

dianne said...

sports bras ... the girls stay all squashed in place and i don't hafta fit the mold, so to speak

Bonnie said...

I'm still laughing. I haven't had the courage to buy new underwear for years. Thank you for writing everything I wish I could say. The world it is a changin'.

Ali Honey said...

After those uplifting thoughts and words I am sorry you are left vertually unsupported in your quest for underwear.

Friko said...

What you need, Molly, is a nice M&S Lingerie Department, staffed by matronly ladies with a tape measure and cool hands and 'be fitted'. No falsies, no wired baskets, just plain white, serviceable cotton bras, although, once you got braver, they could also provide you with more exotic ones.

Poor Molly, are you coming back to the old country at all, at all?

Pauline said...

Hitching up my waistpack and trying to catch my breath. I've laughed, snorted tea out my nose and generally made a fool of myself, sitting here in my little house all alone, hooting like a banshee.

Hilary said...

Laughing here.. in empathy and with dread for my next time out shopping. You have a delightfully funny way with words. I'm glad Pauline pointed your blog out to me.

rhubarbwhine said...

Hilarious. And so true, sacrily so!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Molly, I so love this post! It vexes me enormously (no pun intended) that it is virtually impossible to buy bras which are not padded nowadays. I also believe in truth in advertising or better yet, in NOT advertising, but I also do not need more than God gave me. Let's just say that if they were bigger, I would have to walk on all fours, or push them in a wheelbarrow. So we have an entire society of apparently huge breasted women conspiring to create the illusion that all women are really made like that. Proportion isn't even a consideration. Everything and everyone must be supersized. It makes me ill, and angry.

Isabelle said...

I'm certainly relieved that you're no longer featuring squashed furry things on your blog. Thank you for that. But I don't really believe that slender people like you have trouble buying underwear. The more comfortably-built among us, now, that's different. I don't need any padding, alas.

I think you should make yourself a nice patchwork bra. Go on; you know you want to.

secret agent woman said...

I refuse to buy bras that come with their own breasts, preferring to supply my own. I don't mind them being lined, but no gel-packs or heaps of foam or anything labeled "push-up." I finally found one model I love and just buy it in a variety of colors and patterns. But I admit, I do love the lacy things.

Cricket said...

I can identify with the shopping for work clothes... bras, not so much. Male, y'see? Still, my darling dear and MIL make a pilgrimage of sorts to a custom shop for that sort of thing - all measured and fitted and custom ordered, so I do understand somewhat.

Even so, a funny tale. Congratulations on your potw.

Kerry said...

Bra-shopping is ridiculously embarrassing, even without a strict Catholic up-bringing!

So funny!

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Wanderlust Scarlett said...

My goodness, you never fail to make me smile and grin and wish I was right there next to you to hug you.

:D

NOW then.

About the bras... if that store made you leave in pale green skin, then find another store. What you are looking for is out there; you just weren't in the right place.

Try some department stores, talk with the ladies there and tell them what you want. If they don't have it, they can certainly point you in the right direction.

And... just a little whisper in your ear... those pre-shaped things aren't the only style that can 'head 'em up and move 'em out' as it were. Give yourself a lift and a bounce in more than just your step.
So good for the self-confidence. ;D


XOXOXOXO
Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Meggie said...

A great post, that resonates with me, only too well. My latest desperation purchase is a 'sports bra'. It seems to have built-in nipples!