Saturday, April 1, 2006

Bra Shopping

“You’re drooping,” my friend Lori said frankly “I’ve been meaning to tell you for awhile—I think you need new bras.”

She was right. But I’d been trying to convince myself that the bras I’d been wearing since Clinton ran for re-election were working fine. I could live with underwires poking out, unraveling threads and a pulley that wasn’t pulling it’s weight anymore, so long as I didn’t have to go—bra shopping. But if I put it off any longer, my floppy breasts were liable to break loose and give someone a black eye.

It’s not like regular shopping, at least for us full-busted ladies. It’s more like trying to solve a problem of physics or building construction. X pounds of pressure divided by Y units of gravity resistance, equals the energy needed to suspend the boulders. Finding the correct solution requires a strategy, endurance and strength of will that is normally reserved for combat veterans.

I advanced on JC Penny’s well rested, fed and hydrated—prepared for my mission. As the lingerie department came into view, I was intimidated by the dense jungle bursting with every color, shape and style of brassiere. Full cups, demi-cups, racer back, snap front, adjustable strap, wide strap, underwire, no wire, satin, silky, breastfeeder, birdfeeder—everything. My job was to sort through the frilly foliage in search of my perfect fit.

The plan of attack was to cast a wide net. I grabbed everything that might work in at least three sizes and two different cup varieties. The bras hung tightly tangled together on the racks, as if they grew that way. I wrestled through the snarled vines of straps and tiny hangers trying to read miniscule tags. Pulling out just one was difficult, like trying to pull just one strand of Spanish Moss from a tree limb. I hung my selections on my arms, so both hands remained free to comb through the underwear underbrush. When my arms were dangling with bras from wrist to armpit, it was time for the first trip to the dressing room.

My intimates and I barely fit through the door. I unloaded my pickings onto the chair and dug in. I was the Goldilocks of intimate apparel. Some were too big, some too small, and none were just right. Some had cups that fit but straps that were too long. Others clasped comfortably but were bursting with my bosom. I longed for the prettiest flowers in the jungle, but quickly discovered (to my dismay) that there is no sexy, cute bra in existence constructed to rein in my mammary magnificence.

Out of the first mound I’d found one bra that might work. I needed more (like enough to sustain me until retirement). I made trip after trip back out into the sprawling shapewear section, each time getting further and further away from the attractive, lingerie model bras, deep into the interior of the bra department—the utilitarian bras. The bras that only come in white or beige and look like they could easily hold a pumpkin firmly against your chest.

Two hours later, I still only had one candidate. I gathered up my discard pile from the most recent trip and headed out for a final round. Outside my dressing room, I caught my reflection in a mirror on the opposite wall. I was the poster girl for bra shopping. My shirt was on inside out. My hair was wild and jumbled. My arms hung limp, sore from fastening tiny hooks 200 times behind my back. I looked dazed, like I’d just woken up from a coma. I was droopy.

A little old lady materialized from a wall of full-support shapers.

“You look like you could use some help,” she cooed.

“Ok” (Right. Help. I need an army squadron before going back out there.)

“Have you shopped for delicates with us before?” she asked.

“Uh…No” (Delicates? My boobs would crush anything called “delicate” it’d be nothing but mangled underwire and bits of ribbon when I was done with it.)

“What is it you’re looking for dear? These pretty matching sets are on sale…”

“I need something with serious hydraulic action. I don’t have time to mess with the frilly, frou-frou, let’s-have-fun bras. I need a let’s-get-down-to-business kind of bra. A my-boobs-are-straight-out-of-national-geographic kind of bra. Do you have something like that?”

I didn’t wait to find out. I grabbed the best one I’d found and weaved my way through the undergarment jungle to grab three more of the same, in three different colors—so I’d at least feel like I’d been shopping.

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