It had to happen sooner or later.
There comes a day in every woman's life when she realizes she needs a new bra. And that, my friends, is a sad, sad day.
It's not about the *idea* of a new bra. Of course, new things are nice. But the buying of the bra...now that's definitely less fun than a barrel of monkeys. Trying on bras is second only to trying on bathing suits in the world of torturous activities in which women willfully engage.
I guess I was feeling masochistic yesterday.
So I battled the Valley Fair parking lot at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon (and won! I found a spot right near the entrance. Sure, it was the entrance on the complete opposite end of the mall from where I wanted to be, but it was a spot near the entrance nonetheless).
I dodged various obstacles including strollers, midgets, and people trying to sell me cell phones and then stopped in awe of the task in store for me when I came upon it--shining like some kind of half-angelic, half-evil beacon on the second floor of the mall--Victoria's Secret, all pink-and-white-and-blacklike.
"You're on a mission," I told myself, and mustered up a facial expression that read 'I know exactly what I'm looking for and where I'm going to find it. You may try to speak with me if you wish, but you'll be wasting your breath. And no, I don't need a Victoria's Secret charge card.'
So, either the sales *associate* was not skilled in face-reading, or my confidence diminished somewhere between the threshold and the first display containing underthings with no easily identifiable purpose or mode of operation.
And I'm leaning toward the latter.
"Hi!" she said. "May I help you find something?!"
I had a few doubts about whether or not she actually could, which surfaced when I noticed her own boobies were only partially contained and in danger of Janet Jackson-ing at any moment. But I reasoned she was probably aiming for that look and acquiesced.
"Yeah. I'm looking for a strapless bra."
"Ok great! We have a number of options for you. Walk with me."
This was already bad news. I didn't really want options. I wanted there to be a standard-issue bra made for my purpose and I wanted it to be perfect. But what could I do? I followed her to a display.
"Now," she said, and looked directly, directly at my breasts. "What size would you be, then?"
"Well it really depends on the bra."
"Shall we measure you?" And with that, she pulled a tape measure from a holster and slung it around my back.
'Whoah there, Little Missy!,' I thought, a favorite line of my friend Wolfgang's echoing in my mind.
My inner puritan had a say as well: shouldn't we be behind closed doors (or at least somewhere other than in front of a huge, windowed store front in a busy mall) for this sort of activity?
"Ok," she said. "We have this bra, which has a nice gel shaper in the cups."
I touched the cup and it moved. It squished! Bras shouldn't squish: boobies squish!
"Uh. No, thank you. Do you have one without padding?"
"Ok. Why don't I just take you to the dressing room? All the bras should be there and then we won't have to walk around and find them all separately."
This seemed like a good idea until I came to realize that "all the bras" included only two other models, and they weren't, in fact, in the dressing room. I stood there and watched while she rifled through a number of little boxes looking for my size in the two remaining strapless models. When she saw they weren't there, she called an invisible fellow sales person using a little hands-free cell phone attachment kind of thing and requested the bras. This would seem like a cool trick, except that she didn't seem to know how to use the thing (there was some button she was forgetting to push) and had to repeat everything. Additionally, she kept dropping the little speaker part down her blouse and had to fish it back out every few seconds.
We waited until the invisible sales person showed herself with only one bra in her hand. I began to think I just might have had an easier time on my own. Did all this hullabaloo really save us the "trouble" of walking around to find TWO bras on our own?
"Here you go," my helper said, "this is the [fill in the blank with something sounding like "Angel Sleak Body" or something like that] bra."
For a second I thought she was going to accompany me into the dressing room and I had to ask myself whether or not I was entirely opposed to the idea. Despite all the superfluous fuss and the gaping holes in what's clearly trying to be excellent customer service, there was something sexy about having another woman take such a keen interest in my breasts. At that point we were allies, united in the goal of getting me the proper support. Maybe she'd want to see the once-impossible dream through to its fruition (?)
But she had other hapless souls to attend to.
I was now all alone in my battle.
And that bra...well, that bra beat me.
Once on, it looked like something from Madonna's "Vogue" video and felt like something you'd force onto violent mental patients to keep them at bay.
I got dressed and emerged from the dressing room, downtrodden.
There was another boobie-bulging associate there, happy to take the reins. "How'd that work out for you?" she asked.
"Um. Do you have a strapless bra that isn't pointy or that doesn't make me feel like my boobs are sitting on a shelf?" I asked.
"Oh yeah, let me bring you the [whatever] bra...it's much better."
And she did. And it was.
She even walked me through the incredibly complicated 5-in-one convertible strap options. She told me I can have straps, one strap (those tacky 80's looking blouse-styles), halter top strap (nice feature, by the way), strapless, or racerback.
I didn't know anything about racerbacks
...didn't think I owned anything with a racerback
...am not given to racing.
But whatever it is--this racerback thing--my new bra can handle it!
So yeah, I bought it.
At the register I encountered a pleasant woman who made friendly conversation and who even winked a sweet wink at me when I passed her later in the mall. If I hadn't heard her call another female employee by the name "Mystique," I might have thought Victoria's Secret was a perfectly normal place, after all.
But it's not. And you shouldn't go there unless you really really need a bra with racerback options.
I have to say, though, walking around the mall afterward with that little pink-and-white handle bag containing my new 5-in-one non-shelf-like, non-pointy bra, I felt a sense of accomplishment. I felt I'd made my breasts proud. And yes, I hope it's a long, long time before I have the need to go there again.