Today was the day. It is a ritual in every woman’s life, especially on the occasion of one’s wedding.
At least once in your life, you go to a place where a woman says, “just as the doctor says, naked from the waist up!!” and then leaves for five minutes. When she comes back, she sizes up your breasts. All this in the elusive search for undergarments that give us shape, without the need to re-enact post-partum Scarlett O’Hara trying to get into her pre-pregnancy whale-boned corset.
With the wedding looming large, POB and I walked into The Town Shop, a storied place, where the owner (until the day she died) would “cup” each customer. WITH HER HANDS. So you stand naked from the waist up and an old lady comes over (WITHOUT drawing the curtain on your dressing room) and grabs you and yells out the size and model. First, humiliation and then triumph.
Even though the proprietor died, her family keeps up the place, and there are enough old women who are brutally honest to make the process just as humiliating and then triumphant.
Bessie helped us today. She had the air of a Southern black woman whose mama taught her well. Except, she started by telling us she just got the cast off her right arm and made me feel the pin that the doctors inserted.
We told her that we needed help getting the right, supportive undergarments for the wedding dresses we brought with us.
“Which one of you is the bride?”
“We both are”.
“Hmmmm,” with some incomprehension. It never ceases to amaze me how this still happens in New York City.
She turned to me. “Let me look at you first.” Ok, Bessie studied my breasts. She looked at the dress. “I am going to have to concentrate very hard here. Come out here where the light is better.” That meant I had to step outside the dressing room in full view of everyone in the store — man, woman, child and cat. “I am thinking D cups for all that! And [looking at the bra I had been wearing] you have some ratty old bras, doncha?” she yelled. I looked at the floor hoping that the earth would open up so that I might crawl in.
“I also need something for the waist down . . . ” I said as force-ably I could muster after she was off for my new bra.
Bessie came back with a bra. She strapped me in and then said, “Lean over and let them things settle!” I did as bidden. “I said LEAN, not pray!” “Now sit down and jiggle. Hands up!! Jump up and down!” I have never been to Club Med, but this is sounding familiar. “Ok, now PRAY!” Bessie asked for quiet while she concentrated “fiercely”. “We need to get you something tighter ’cause you all over the place.”
We settled on a bra that lets me shake, rattle and roll without falling out all over the place. Then we got to the knee to waist issue. She brought something so tight, I didn’t know how I was getting into this. “Well, this will cover that pooch,” as Bessie pointed to the area below my two-pack abs. “Water gain — she has been traveling,” POB said indignantly and in my defense. (I ♥ POB.)
“How many people are helping you get dressed?” A question that implied it would take a village to get us ready on the morning of our wedding. And she hadn’t even started on POB. I was ready to call off the wedding, until I thought of Elinor Donahue in Father Knows Best winning the basketball game and having her friends crowd around her and get her into her prom dress so she could be crowned queen. So, I am thinking about a scrum in rugby, except that we will emerge looking FABULOUS in our dresses.
In order not to embarrass POB, I will just say that POB fared only a little better with our straight-talking Bessie. POB doesn’t have ratty bras because she came from a good home (as she reminds me). Ok, except when it came to the zipper for POB’s dress. “Did you try this dress on before you bought it?” Bessie offered “helpfully” as others needed to assist us because of Bessie’s healing arm. REALLY?
After we were finished, I asked POB if she had arranged for us to be Medi-vac’d home. “No,” she said, “but we could have a snack on our way to the shoe place.”
This wedding stuff is NOT for the weak. (As for Bessie, I am going next Saturday for some new bras.)