Monthly Archives: October 2019

If Bras Could Talk

I was trying to pick an outfit for an evening out when I overheard a conversation not meant for my ears. Before I tell you what was said, I need to revisit my past relationship with undergarments.

There was the time I purchased my first bra from the Blue and White store in Flin Flon. I was twelve, maybe thirteen. I’m unsure because I usually repress this memory. The saleswoman who had handed me a size 30 A had to be called back so I could ask for a smaller size. Do you remember what it felt like to be that age, how you already thought the whole world was watching you? ‘Nobody cares,’ my mother would say, which might have been true. But it wasn’t the caring I was worried about. It was the laughing. The saleswoman hollered across the store, ‘Judy Hanson needs a 28AA!’ As I tried to crawl inside the wall and disappear forever, I pictured the conversation this little cotton bra was having, one cup to another.

“Easy gig, right? Not much heavy lifting, ha ha. Let’s just sit back and relax!” When you’re a kid, even your clothes make fun of you. But I never expected that to continue into adulthood.

Today I was wracking my brain (which should be left alone, it’s suffered enough over the years) about what to wear for a Johnny’s Social Club event, ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show.’ I dressed up the last time and it made the evening that much more fun. Fortunately, my youngest had left a bag of cast off clothing behind, and she has a strong preference for black. Sure enough, there in the bag was a garment that could have looked cool if I was young enough, but now would appear kind of silly and therefore perfect for the evening.

I tried the outfit on and realized I needed to wear that bra. The kind that sits in the bottom of the drawer because it’s not your friend. The two of you never talk. It’s not comfortable and you can’t forgive it for the money you spent on its behalf. With a heavy sigh, you pull it out into the light.

Mine was bought in the kind of shop where the saleswomen follow you inside the tiny change room. I felt like an inadequate thirteen year old all over again, even though the sales person herself was barely in her twenties. She handed me her version of the perfect bra and I just knew it wasn’t going to be comfortable. However, like Fantine in Les Miserable, I dreamed a dream. Hope was high and life worth living, so this time would be different and that lovely piece of lingerie would fit and make me feel good. It’s only when I returned home that I realized I’d purchased another expensive mistake. There should be a bureau one can turn to regarding buyer’s remorse, or some kind of bra complaint department.

In the meantime, this bra had to step up and be worn. I managed to wrestle the thing in place and that was when it started talking. The cups totally ignored me in favour of a team meeting. I’m not sure where the other speakers came from, but there were quite a few. One appeared to be the leader.

‘Look,’ he said, (of course it was a man, smug, patronizing¬† and fortunately, no one I recognized) ‘we need a whole new plan here. Things have changed since the last time we left the drawer.’ Another voice pipes up, ‘You’re not kidding. We need a crane for the whole lifting and separating thing. My God, how much weight has she packed on? Does she even fit us anymore?’
‘Look, you stand over there and do the necessary, I’ll…’

‘Shut up,’ I said sternly, pushing things in place, prodding and poking and then doing that horrible reach back for the clasp, which gets no easier with age. A woman needs monkey hands for that kind of business. Or a spare person. Anyway, I finally pulled the outfit over top and this seemed to quell the voices a bit. I heard a bit of mumbling, ‘We’re never going to make it,’ but decided to ignore them.

This is what happens as we grow older. It’s not that we get smarter, or wiser. We just stop caring about critical voices, ours and those belonging to our lingerie. We’ve been to the beach and back and have the broken elastic bathing suits to prove it. There’s not much we haven’t seen, and really, we paid good money for these contraptions and need to wear them more than once, so we refuse to be shamed. I stand back from the mirror. Yes, I look a bit silly, which means I’ll fit right in. Oh, shut up.

Men in Trouble

There are a lot of men in trouble these days. Donald Trump, for anything you can think of, Boris Johnson for emulating him, and Justin Trudeau for brown-facing and enjoying the dramatic life just a little too much. There are others who’ve been caught harassing women, men, and children. Some out there are thinking, why is nobody pointing the finger at Mick Jagger? I’m sure he’s done something. Every rock and roll band from the seventies has to be guilty of SOMETHING. Anything went, back in the day, if you were rich and famous. Even if you weren’t. But nobody cared. Nowadays, men are always in trouble.

The married ones, anyway. Since my husband died, I am exercising my ‘man chastisement’ muscle on my brother in law, Bob. He’s a good sport, and since I often stay at their apartment in Winnipeg, I have plenty of opportunities.

One morning, I entered the bathroom and drew back in horror. In a small dish by the sink were two shrivelled brown things resembling:

a. Preserved and shrunken (but not by much) penises
b. Two cooked hot dogs left over from last summer.
c. Something the witch from Robin Hood, (the Kevin Costner version) would use to cast a spell.

I was informed that this hideous couple of lumps was once soap on a rope. Bob is thrifty, and also sentimentally attached to the thing. It looked like wood, he said fondly, but now the bar had shrivelled into a left over body part from Night of the Living Dead. ¬†Bob’s defensiveness made me nostalgic for the days when my husband was in trouble.

There were the clothing offences, like his penchant for high tide pants and loud shirts. There was his sense of humour that was almost always fun until it wasn’t. Like the time he was the MC for a Chamber of Commerce dinner. The trick with Clarence, who was not generally a big drinker, was to keep him from imbibing BEFORE he had to speak. This time he decided to warm up the crowd with a story about a man who was well known for his moose calling skills. After setting up the scene nicely (a cold fall day, breath in the air, the sense of anticipation) my husband leaned into the mike and said:
“Come here, you fucking moose.”

By the stunned silence that followed, he came to understand that perhaps he’d misread the room. I can’t remember much about the rest of the evening because of my shock, but I know that a wifely smackdown took place once we got home.

It doesn’t need to be a thing of this magnitude to make wives feel irritated. Hearing from friends and strangers, I’ve realized that any of the following may get a man into trouble at home:

1. Loud throat clearing or nose blowing, especially over the phone, as well as excessive coughing. Having a cold is generally not considered an excuse.

2. Pretending to clean out the garage while basically farting around and rummaging through all the old junk lying about, then simply moving it across the room.

3. Disregarding our health advice, no matter how good it is is or how long we drone on about it.

4. Being gormless: ie: bewildered by our ongoing and ever changing expectations and their own constant failure to live up to them.

5. Walking around with stunned expressions. Not knowing they’re walking around with stunned expressions.

6. Snoring, having sleep apnea and not believing us. Telling us we snore too, which we never believe.

6. Basically, whatever gets under our skin on any particular day. They won’t know what it is until we tell them, which we don’t often do, choosing instead to make them guess. They never get it right. (Is it the socks? Wearing my underwear two days in a row?) We turn away, disgusted. Why can’t they read our minds like they’re supposed to?

Dear women of the world, (and gay men who feel the same way) I’m not defending the other team, or making excuses for the things men do that drive us crazy. I’m just saying, mine would be in a lot less trouble with me now than he used to be, if only he weren’t dead. Though now that I think about it, he’s still in trouble for that.