O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
— Robert Burns, from the poem To A Louse
he wrote after seeing one on a lady’s bonnet at church
If the most humbling experience for a woman of a certain age is buying a bathing suit, the second most is getting fitted for a bra. I did that last week for the first time since I was, oh, thirteen and didn’t really need one. Somewhere in my late teens, I settled into a 34B and have bought that size off the rack ever since. A recent weight loss got me to thinking I might have crept back closer to training bra range so I trekked on over to the Bay’s lingerie department, to one of their bra fitting experts.
“Hmm,” she said, “34, still. As for cup size…C, maybe D.”
What! An image of a woman from my church when I was a kid popped into my head. This woman’s bust kept you at such a distance you had to shout if you wanted to converse with her. “How can that be?” I said. “I’m wearing a 34B now.”
“Hmm,” she said again, not wanting to deliver a tutorial on Continental Drift, I suppose, or suggest the possibility that mine might be a generous B. Even bra manufacturers are guilty of downsizing to make us feel better. (How can zero be a dress size?)
My choices would be limited, the woman said, because Cs and Ds typically don’t come in 34. (Yeah? Tell that to Jennifer Lopez, Cheryl Tiegs, Kate Winslet and Drew Barrymore. I checked out the Celebrity Bra Sizes site.) We found a few. “Here,” she said, “try a 34B just for fun.” I slunk off to a change room while The Little Drummer Boy pa-rum-pum-pum-pummed in the background, putting me into a right foul mood. It isn’t even December. I bought the Cs, the ones with the $5 mail-in rebate tags.
On to yet another humbling experience: sitting for a portrait, something I did the day after getting my new bras. Something I needed to do for my book jacket. I’m embarrassingly old for a first book. What if browsers flip to my picture and decide they don’t want to read something by a dinosaur?
The photographer gave me a pep talk about pondering the unique qualities the years have carved into my face and said he would try to capture the real me. I wanted him to capture the me I’d like to be.
The session was almost fun. I winnowed down dozens of proofs to seven which I e-mailed to my writing group, my kids, my sister and a friend in
P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to our south of the border friends!
Which twin has the Toni? (Only fellow dinosaurs will remember that ad campaign.) Diane Keaton, bottom right. Me, above, as I’ll appear on the jacket of my short story collection, Silent Girl.