Friday, November 13, 2009

You just can't skimp on fundamentals

There comes a time in every woman’s life when she must stop everything and buy bras. You can make do with the old, stretched-out ones for a long time, longer really than you should, but at a certain point, you’ll catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror or catch a glimpse of the offensive undergarment and think, “Enough is enough.”

When this time would arrive in the past, I’d pop into the nearest Victoria’s Secret. But now that I have children and spend virtually no money on myself, I have decided that when it comes to fundamentals I deserve to splurge. Plus, the rigors of bearing and nursing two children back-to-back has made it such that I benefit from expert assistance in the support area. So now I go to Town Shop. I went for the second time a few weekends ago, after leaving David with the kids at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan around the corner. Fun for the kids, fundamentals for the mama. Win/win.

Now, I don’t know how other bra-fitting establishments work, but at Town Shop, the service is pretty, um, comprehensive. Up close and personal.

You walk in and a bra-expert comes right over and ushers you to a small, private room in the back of the store. Then she closes the curtain behind you and tells you to take off your shirt so she can see what’s she’s working with.

That is, by the way, a direct quote: “Let’s see what we’re working with.”

It is not unlike what happens at The Bunny Ranch, according to HBO.

So you strip down and the bra-expert scrutinizes your goods, giving you a sudden and unexpected attack of performance anxiety. I mean, there’s nothing to perform but are the goods good enough? How do they compare with what she’s already seen today? Is she impressed or does she pity you? She squints her eyes and looks pensive, then tells you she’ll be right back with some choices.

And you are left to regard yourself topless in the mirror for a very long time. It’s not something one often has the time to do, when one has two young children at home. I, for one, have no idea what I look like anymore, and frankly, I don’t mind keeping it that way.

Then the bra-expert comes back in and things get really strange.

If you are a first-timer, you’ll probably reach out to take the bra and put it on yourself and you’ll get a gently reprimand.

“No, no, I’ll do it,” says the bra expert, “You just bend over.”

Bend over? you might wonder. Why in the name of all that is holy should you have to BEND OVER to put a bra on? I mean, you’re not in a zero-gravity chamber or under some other set of extenuating circumstances which would necessitate such Twister-esque maneuvers/ But you do what you’re told and bend over slightly, say about 45 degrees.

“A little more,” instructs the bra-expert. So you bend over ‘til you’re touching the ground and now you REALLY feel like you’re at the Bunny Ranch, with your ass in the air and your goods swinging around and all of it reflected in the mirror and you wonder, is this standard protocol? But then you remember that 80 % of women are wearing the wrong bra size, and you don’t want to be one of them.

The bra-expert clips the bra and tells you to straighten up. If you try to adjust anything, a strap or a cup, she says, “Oh no no, please don’t touch anything, I’ll do it.” And she does it all right, tucking in, straightening out and patting down and generally handling your mammaries. If they were smart, the people at Town Shop would advertise their bra-fitting as coming with a free breast exam, because, basically, that’s what you get.

The whole wild fiasco took about an hour and cost me just over $100 bucks. Sure, that’s dinner for two or five pairs of discount Rocket Dog sneakers at DSW but you can’t skimp on fundamentals, ladies, and besides, it’s cheaper than a trip to the Bunny Ranch.