Thirteen years is a long time, so I’d forgotten about what happens when I’m a regular beer drinker, or pregnant. In addition to less activity than normal. Three months ago – hallelujah – a (comparatively) reasonably priced and reasonably tasty gluten free beer appeared. I began drinking one at the end of each day – sometimes with lime, sometimes more than one.
It was incremental, so I didn’t notice at first, but eventually I could no longer ignore my lusby. [A lusby? One of the few words I remember from The Meaning of Liff, where it is defined as: ‘the fold of flesh pushing forward over the top of a bra which is too small for the lady inside it.’*]
It seems that ‘lusby’ is singular, but courtesy of Hahn Ultra Crisp, I had lusbies. It had been so many years since I had been a regular beer drinker that I’d forgotten not that it WOULD increase my weight, but WHERE that weight might locate itself.
“My lumps, my lumps, my lovely lady lumps… CHECK ‘EM OUT!”
The three bras I own are all the same. I continued with Lusby in Stereo, presuming they would take their leave in the absence of beer while I was on my #longservice leave.
They did not.
In addition, as I walked my way around Manhattan (having banned myself from the subway) my lovely and previously unproblematic underpants decided to take a dive. I began backing into corners so as to be unobserved hoicking my knickers back into their rightful place (whilst being irretrievably reminded of my friend Christine on a Melbourne Cup Day many years ago – beginning the day by putting an extra pair of undies on over her pantyhose to keep them anchored, and ending it as they drifted gradually downward until, on Bourke Street, she was forced to simply step out of them as they pooled around her ankles and blithely continue walking, never looking down.)
There were only two possible causes that might explain my recalcitrant underwear:
1) I’d lost weight as a result of no beer and a non-existent appetite, courtesy of shingles
2) I’d put them in the dryer a couple of times – something they are entirely unaccustomed to
I preferred the former. On arriving at the Greenwich Ave apartment , I stepped on a set of scales. A rarity. They told me my underpants had Dryer-Related-Elasticity-Exhaustion. Only they didn’t put it quite like that; they simply reported that I’d gained two kilograms due to beer and an inactivity.
But obviously not around my hips. I mused for a while on the mechanics of weighing myself sans-boobs, but came up with nothing. Instead I ventured out into the wilds of the city and somehow found myself amongst the mayhem of the Victoria’s Secret Semi-Annual Sale, being professionally fitted by my new friend Stephanie.
Even though the store was heaving, all the women providing fittings were infatigably patient and good humoured.
“What did she size you?” She was referring to one of the downstairs fitters who had plucked me from the maelstrom, and wrapped a tape measure around my chest, before delivering me to Stephanie.
She flicked an expert eye over the girls, and then physically rotated me.
“I’m guessing a 32DDD.”
I yelped. The rack has been lusbied into a 34C for several years. She got out her own measuring tape, wrapped around me and nodded. “Yes! 32DDD.”
Jesus. She disappeared and I visualised her fighting the crowds as she made her way to an isolated shelf of 32DDD bras being ransacked by exactly no one. However, she reappeared almost as soon as she had gone, knocking on the door.
“How did you do that?”
“Do you have some kind of ‘Every-Bra-Ever’ stack out the back up here?”
I had asked for T-Shirt bras. The 32DDD was too tight, the 34DDD was comfortable to the point of providing zero support and being purely decorative. The 34DDD sports model was too gapey, the 34DD – once I wrestled it on – was an immobiliser. Nothing moved. I was a human tank.
While Stephanie was out of the room I stealthily checked the pricetag. $50US/$71AU. This was unfair. The other issue was the underwire, something I’d forsworn in mid-2007. I wanted to be wirefree, but it seems that the combination of wirefree and solid support should be added to the other unsolvable issues on this list.
For the good of the girls, I succumbed to The Wire. Stephanie wrote down the model of my restraining order:
THE INCREDIBLE KNOCK-OUT ULTRA MAX 34DD
Who knew? Apparently my size in the elusive t-shirt bra is a cupsize more than in the IKOUM. I went downstairs and literally did not have to shove ANYONE out of the way to access the sale piled of IKOUM in 34DD. I had no idea how much one would cost (all part of the Victoria’s Secret mystery), but was happy I’d tolerated waiting in the line snaking toward the checkout, because they ended up being $15US each. Glory be!!
“Who fitted you?” asked the cashier.
“Um. Stephanie. Why? Does she get a commission?”
Now I viewed the women prowling the crowds with their pink tape measures from a slightly different angle. Those tapes were being used to lassoo their prey. It did seem to be a somewhat haphazard way of earning commission, my memory is often terrible – what if Stephanie’s name had actually been Saskia?
I left that place feeling like I’d rolled the dice and won. Bra-shopping (like swimwear shopping) it so often its own special form of hell. As it turned out, I strapped the girls in for a ride in the new support vehicle, and… attacked them with a pair of scissors when I got home. The ‘bra within a bra’ design was overkill. The zip tag made a weird bump that looked like a frighteningly exact third nipple, and having my bosom contained by the front fastening bra alone was far more comfortable than having everything smooshed into place by further scaffolding. Success! (Via Stephani, sale prices and scissors.)
Addendum: although it appears that I attained closure, after a about two days, I realised this was not the case. The IKOUM is one of the most uncomfortable corsetry inventions I have ever encountered. The moral of the story? Give Victoria’s Secret a miss. Go to Macy’s.
*It’s also a town in Calvert County, Maryland, in the USA.