the bra authority

The summer between sixth grade and seventh grade, it was decided I needed to start wearing a bra, a training bra. I remember thinking I must have unruly breasts that could spew out in any direction and, therefore, they needed to be trained. Little did I know that the direction they spewed was determined by only two things, time and gravity and I knew little about either because a) I was just a kid and b) I hadn’t had earth science yet.

Living in Sheboygan Wisconsin and needing a bra could only mean one thing … a trip to H.C. Prange Co. to visit the Bra Authority. Now the Bra Authority always wore a tape measure around her neck like a doctor with a stethoscope. My mom uttered a minimal amount of words to the Bra Authority who nodded and told me to proceed to the dressing room. With her well-worn tape measure, she quickly calibrated my size. She said “thirty-eight” and flew out of the room like a nun rejecting sin.

Suddenly the curtain whips open and the Bra Authority says, “why are you still wearing your clothes, they need to come off for this” and since it was a much simpler time, I obeyed. Although I trusted the Bra Authority with my unruly bosoms and began stripping, I was never foole
d by that combination of words again.

I asked no questions, spoke no words, but watched in bewilderment as she does the unthinkable. She strapped me into the bra alright, but it was backward. Granted, this entire experience was overwhelming and foreign but quicker than I could protest she had spun that sucker around. Oh dear, now she was showed me how to bend over at the waist and give my upper body a gentle shake so my orbs would fill the cups evenly when I stood. The Bra Authority indicated that although the shaking felt unnatural at this point it would make sense later. I thought later in the day or later in the week not decades later when I have this mature pair of knockers that can’t even pass as fraternal twins, much less a real life matching set.

The Bra Authority talked quickly and explained that she was fitting me with a very popular style of training bra, only available in virginal white with a pink flower in the middle. The pink flower itched and I knew there wasn’t much time to get used to this body armor before school started. After my mom and the Bra Authority had another equally brief discussion it was decided I needed only one bra because I really didn’t need to wear it every day, just with certain clothes. I was in awe, apparently I would be able to predict when the training had been successful and I could present my globes in public without the fear of them embarrassing me with their poor behavior.

The shopping excursion was now complete and we headed out to our Chevrolet Impala for the ride home. I had my bra in a box and then in a bag hoping no one would ask me what I was carrying. I also hoped for safe driving so that I wouldn’t get caught carrying this bra in a box and then in a bag. I looked at my mom and said, “Wow, I am a thirty-eight” to which my mom replies, “No, you are a 30-A.”

I still bend at the waist and shimmy myself symmetrically into the cups just like I was taught by the Bra Authority. A generation later H.C. Prange Co. has been remodeled, renamed several times and ultimately torn down and turned into a green space but years later my eleven-year-old daughter was calibrated by a much younger Bra Authority bearing no resemblance to the prison matron that sized me. When our mission was complete, she proudly carried her shopping bag in front of her full of Calvin Klein bras, a decent colorful selection so she could find her own likes and dislikes.

We came home with an assortment of A-cups and eight weeks later we were back buying B-cups. While preparing her for the bra experience, I must have left out the part of the story that said these puppies are going to grow. My daughter was wearing two bras at a time trying to restrain those unruly breasts of hers, too embarrassed to tell me that she couldn’t keep them under control in their original containers we had bought two months earlier.

Thankfully that growth spurt has seemed to plateau. For now.

We have a rather large family, six kids. And yes, some of them are already out of the house and although the Internal Revenue Service doesn’t count them as our dependents we still do! And parents with oodles of kids have a special provision, it is called the opt-out program.

When my youngest daughter turned eleven, my oldest daughter was nineteen and I benefited from the opt-out program … what had been a decades-old mother/daughter tradition has now become a sisterly bonding experience and for this I will be forever grateful.

training bra

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