Intimacy with strangers just happens to me.
There was the gentleman confessor of an adulterous liaison on the flight back from Boulder and now there is the Breast Expert with vertigo who helped me with finding the right bra.
It happened in the Macy’s at the City Creek Center in Salt Lake City, just a two block hike from my stay at the Peery Hotel, a doppelganger for the hotel in The Shining.
Instead of waiting around for the walls to start bleeding and “Redrum” graffiti to scar every door behind which Jack Nicholson awaited me with particularly fang-y incisors and an axe, I fled to the mall.
That was my first mistake.
I told myself I was not going to spend money on pleasurable items. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES was I to buy myself anything FUN. Like a checked skirt or a dress with a peplum, or a red clown nose. NOTHING THAT WOULD GIVE JOY!
But I did need underwear and I really needed help finding the right bra.
My Victoria’s Secret bras seemed to be on their last leg. And my Yummy Tummy Spanx-like underwear kept rolling up my thighs into my crotch. This may have been an indicator I should lay off the macaroons that followed me home from France, but I thought I should probably just buy bigger underwear.
The whole point of the previous paragraph was to say that I should feel VERY GUILTY if I spent 150$ on a frivolous item, because we definitely have to tighten our waistbands these days (figuratively speaking); but it would be TOTALLY ACCEPTABLE to spend 150$ on necessities and bras and underwear are kind of like bread. Or eggs. Or milk. They’re fucking staples, people! You can’t feel guilty about buying the staples. (Come to think of it, why don’t they have bra stamps?)
So there I was, my 150$ burning a hole in my credit card, in the Intimate Apparel department standing before a veritable phalanx of:
- demi cups
- push ups
… when I became overwhelmed and started hyperventilating a little feeling completely certain there was no way I was ever finding the right bra.
The room began spinning. My breasts quaked in terror at all of the freaking choices.
Why did my breasts and I have to live in America?? Sometimes there’s such a thing as too much bounty! I don’t think they’ve got no-peeks in Uzbekistan.
Just as I was prepared to flee back to my hotel, the likely site of my imminent death, a booming voice with, it must be said, a heavy Japanese accent assaulted me. “You rook for bra?”
(Year 2021 addendum. I know it is wrong to write dialogue that seems racist, yet stubbornly I insist as this is what it actually sounded like to me. Still. I might be an asshole.)
I turned to see the tiniest elderly Asian woman I had ever seen in my life.
I could’ve picked her up, tucked her between my cleavage and she wouldn’t have been excavated for eons. Or, I suppose, until my demise in my hotel room.
“Well,” I waffled, not really wanting to share the intimacies of a Lingerie Quest with a stranger, but at the same time really wanting to spend that $150, “Yes, I’m looking for a bra that fits. Preferably a thrifty one.”
Without a word, and much like a trained Ninja (another un-PC stereotype), she reached out and snapped my bra strap.
“That dead bra,” she said, confirming my darkest suspicions. “You are in ruck! I am breast expert. I get you a bra that fits!”
“A breast expert?” I queried. Was there such a thing? Did it require a degree? How much did it pay? Could I submit my resume?
“Yes,” she said, with a great deal of dignity and a definite whiff of yes-I-am-here-to-rescue-you-from-making-a-potentially-life-altering-mistake.
Yes, “life altering” my male readers. Let me ask you this. If you were wearing the wrong size jock strap, how big a deal would that be? Would your man parts become uncomfortable, maybe even chafed, maybe even throttled and strangled rendering them incapable of fertilization hence incapable of propagating the species? Which would precipitate the end of all mankind?
I believe you said yes.
It’s the same for women with their boobs. That’s right. Boob chafing could end civilization as we know it.
I had no choice. I put myself into the hands of the Breast Expert to help in finding the right bra. The first thing she did was brandish a cloth measuring tape wrenched from the demi-cup bralette encompassing her fledgling breasts and measured mine. The bra I was wearing in that moment – the dead bra – was a 36C.
I was proud of those two numbers and one letter. In high school I’d been a 32AA (two AAs is smaller than one A). 36C was retribution for Aaron Molinar never asking me on a date. 36C Aaron!! Read ’em and weep. But I digress.
The Breast Expert deftly whipped that measuring tape around my chest before my senoritas knew what hit ’em.
“You 34 double D,” she said. (Two Ds is bigger than one D)
I looked behind me to see who she was talking to. No one was there.
“Yes. You 34 double D.”
“But, that can’t be right.”
“I am breast expert.”
“I AM BREAST EXPERT!!”
I worried she might kick me in the shins then practice an ancient martial arts neck grip that would kill me. (2021 me here, I recognize not all Asian people know martial arts, but I wish they did.) I was feeling quite vulnerable, thanks to that fucking Amityville Horror Hotel I was staying in.
“It shall be as you say,” I dead-panned, hoping the Breast Expert couldn’t smell my fear.
“We take the Wacoal bras. You made for them. What color you like?”
“Mauve?” she queried, lip crinkling in distaste, “What color is that?”
“It’s kind of a fleshy purple? Or a purpley flesh?”
She just stared. Trying to mask her disapproval. “I bring you ebony and ivory.”
I considered serenading her with the Michael Jackson/Paul McCartney rendition of Ebony and Ivory when she yelled, “You go! Go find room! I be right there!”
I ran toward the dressing rooms. What else could I do? She was a force to be reckoned with. I found an empty dressing room, stripped to the waist and waited.
Time passed. All of the glaciers melted in the Arctic. Then a new Ice Age was born. Then Sandra Bullock re-entered the atmosphere in the Tian-gong space capsule and I sat in just my underwear with my boobs in my hands in a dressing room in the City Creek Center Macy’s, waiting for a diminutive Japanese Breast Expert to arrive with my booty, or a Katana sword with which she’d end me.
(There seems to be a “death” motif running through this piece.)
Eventually, I heard what sounded like a small rodeo-calf slamming from side to side down the hallway of the dressing rooms leading to mine.
What the hell was all that racket? Was someone drunk and careening around out there? Was this a hostage situation? Should I get dressed? I didn’t want to be taken naked.
Suddenly, there was an efficient, professional rapping at my door. I peered through the slats to see my Breast Expert loaded down by a veritable mountain of bras. I let her in.
“I think these going to work very well for you.” She began hanging the bras on a little bar in the dressing room, displaying them for me like they were hookers in the windows of the Red Light District in Amsterdam.
She finished. I waited for her to leave. She didn’t leave. I waited a little longer, emitting a dry, anal retentive cough.
“I help you try these on.”
“Oh, no, that won’t be necessary.”
“I’M BREAST EXPERT!”
How could one argue with that? You try arguing with that kind of pedigree. You can’t do it, can you? Can you?? Plus I really thought she could take me if she wanted to. So … I let the Breast Expert have her way with me. Oh, yes. I tried:
- the bralettes
- the demi cups
- the seamless
- the seamfull
- the underwires
- the overwires
- the mid-wires
- the minimizers
- the maximizers
- the just plain misers.
Sweet Jesus they all fit so beautifully. Those 34 double Ds were gold.
How I hated the Breast Expert in that moment.
Because the bras were no longer staples. They were no longer bread and butter and ground beef. No!! They were dessert. They were the fucking Cherries Jubilee lit on fire! There was no way I was getting out of this store for only 150$. I was totally screwed. Or so I thought.
Just as the Breast Expert was strapping my ladies into the Superchic Full-Busted Underwire suddenly, apropos of nothing, her eyes rolled back in her head. Her face turned a terrifying shade of pale and, with her hands still tightening the straps of my Wacoal, she began to fall backwards.
Without thinking, I reached out and gently cupped the back of her neck with my right hand as she weakly clutched my double D cups breasts in both her hands to stop herself from falling.
There we were, the two of us, suspended in time, in a sort of bosomy pas de deux, reminiscent of Cheryl Burke and Rob Kardashian in Dancing With The Stars.
I stopped her fall and didn’t let go of her until she’d regained her balance.
Turns out the bucking bronco I’d heard coming down the dressing room hallway was my Breast Expert, who suffered vertigo due to a chronic ear infection, and she was flinging herself against walls to avoid falling over.
What is it about people?
If you learn just one of their secrets, just ONE of their intimate frailties, you feel sort of responsible for them. And, in a minor, but also important way, you begin to love them. And they begin to love you too, their confessor.
The bras and underwear my Breast Expert sold me should have cost 300$. But guess what With just a few hidden coupons bestowed upon me by my now-beloved Breast Expert, I walked out of Macys having spent only a cool $150. Well, and 75 cents.
33 thoughts on “The Breast Expert With Vertigo (Finding the Right Bra!)”
I have tears in my eyes. That’s the best story I’ve read all week.
I hear you on the “fits like a glove” bra making you look fantastic. Wish I lived somewhere near your “expert”. I’m overdue for a fitting.
Liv I’m telling you, you’ve just got to have the right bra after 40!
nothing like a breast expert…a class unto themselves, for sure.
I got the Wacoals from my Nordstrom breast expert, too! It was not quite as exciting an experience as yours, though — still laughing!
This is great! What an experience. You make bra shopping sound, dare I say, fun!
I will be laughing all week, too funny.
I wish I read this before I went to Macy’s this afternoon.
That was just too good! Poor lady with vertigo! That would be miserable.
Nothing more important than a good fitting bra. That’s what my mom always says. Makes your clothes fit better… and the tatas deserve respect! 34DD is a size that is often not well-stocked, sadly. I’ve had to settle for a 36D. 34DD is so much better! Now I need to go bra shopping…
I get vertigo a lot too, and shall try to refrain from clutching your Thelma & Louise if we are together shopping when it strikes my inner ear.
Alexandra My T&L would take a fall for you.
May I ask how you managed going from 32AA to 34DD? Was it the macaroons à Paris? If so I am hightailing it to the airport tonight!
My darling Sonora — my tummy also doubled in size so there’s that. I guess I left that part out. Typical.
Wonderful story. I think I would love to meet your breast expert.
Doug I think you’d find her invigorating and charmingly vulnerable all at the same time.
Yeah, take that Aaron Molinar! Bet he’d trade places with the Breast Expert if only he could. Or he might already be hiding in your cleavage, having kicked out the BE. Or he’s hiding in the hotel. Red-bra-rum Red-bra-rum
I currently have Aaron in solitary, just beneath my left breast.r
Sports bras are the best, one size fits ALL. If you’ve ever heard of Century 21, they have plenty, but I prefer no wires or pads. Funny, I do plan on going to Macys tomorrow to get my clinique
Hi Melly — I love when you leave comments here. And I love Macys. They always have so many coupons and sales that frankly sometimes they end up owing ME money!
Shannon you are my hero. My writing hero. My humor hero. You are the woman who can take ANY subject, the more personal the better, present it with panache and make the world laugh with you. I want your talent, your brilliance — and, why not, your breasts too. Kudos.
Catherine you just made my week! Thanks for your kind words, they keep me wanting to tell stories. Xo
Bra shopping is second only to swimsuit shopping. Love the humor. You rock.
Oh Val. That f-ing bathing suit shopping. And why don’t they put candlelight in those changing stalls? What’s with the fluorescents? Do they want us to buy or not??
Why oh why aren’t there comparison photos? From 36C to 34DD??? Either way – epic story, Shannon. Epic.
I need a breast expert in the worst way. She can’t suffer from vertigo, though, b/c I do (Meniere’s disease). And that would just end badly.
Elizabeth I get vertigo from time to time myself. My brain is going one way and my body the other. Quite strange and a bit terrifying.
Too funny. I’ve been putting off bra shopping and having to encounter a “breast expert.” You’ve motivated me!
Debra C. I think breast experts are highly underrated!
Hilarious! Totally struck a chord…as a few years ago I journeyed with a size H bestie that needed a breastervention. Ours was not a Macy’s in an upscale city, but a longtime locally owned shop that was known for its Lanz nightgowns and grandmotherly staff. To this day we both giggle and recall our “breastcapades” fondly…it’s a rite of passage that one must go through with a great sense of humor…and bonds us all together. Thank you for regaling us all with your tale…I even read this out loud to my husband…he loved it as well.
Cence oh please can I steal “breastervention” and “Breastcapades??” Fantastic! xo S
I don’t think my first comment showed up.
I would like to try the holiday romance look from the Mary Kay site.
OMG…this is hysterical! And I know I need a different size bra but vanity is preventing me from doing it (I know the band size needs to go up and I just can’t face it).
Oh Lora I hear you woman.
Ya’ll stop complaining! I wish mine would grow a couple sizes but at 21 I’ve given up! Hilarious story though!
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