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.