Carmella’s blouse is so sheer, I can see her bra! And it’s not a training bra because there’s a tiny white flower between the cups. I know these things; I’ve studied bras.
Mary Ann, the smartest girl in the class, wears a bra slip over her bra. So, all you can see are the straps.
Even Sabrina doesn’t wear undershirts, and she’s shorter than me. Doesn’t anyone else? Oh, wait, Felicity’s wearing one. Ha! Ha! Felicity’s wearing an undershirt! Oh, and Josie!
I thought only good things would happen once we removed the top part of our wool jumper. I thought wearing only a skirt and blouse as our uniform meant that Katie wouldn’t faint if it’s one hundred degrees, again, for this year’s field trip, or that Adele wouldn’t vomit from heatstroke like she did in second grade at the Bronx Zoo! I didn’t expect to be “the girl in the undershirt.” That’s not fair!
I’ve been pestering Mom for a bra. And when she wouldn’t take the hint, I wrote in the steam on the bathroom mirror, “I think I have enough to wear a bra!” I didn’t. It was all about the strap. I wanted straps.
When I asked Mom what I needed to do to develop, she told me to “take care” of myself. The next time she went out, I went into the medicine cabinet and used two sprays of her Secret Underarm Deodorant and one quick spray of her Feminine Hygiene Deodorant (FDS).
Once, I got that purse-sized, glossy black cylinder from the top of Mom’s dresser and sang as I sprayed, “Every woman alive wants Chanel Number 5.” A beautiful blonde lady with an accent advertised it. And someone gave it to Mom for a special occasion.
Boy, did I get in trouble. You know there’s not much in that little bottle, and I was wearing most of it. I smelled worse than the beauty parlor and gave myself a headache. Everyone got mad, and I got sent to my room. Even I didn’t want me in my room.
I remained flat-chested. “My little friend did not visit.” I did not “get unwell.” I did not “become a lady.”
But I was able to talk Mom into buying me a bra at Woolworths. And since I measured 26 AAA and the smallest-sized bra in the store was 32 AA, Grandma took in three inches on each side. In between bouts of laughter.
I enjoyed Grandma and Mom’s erupting laughter. I liked watching and listening to it. I secretly tried to guess when it would start up again.
I did mind them laughing at my brother suggesting I use a band-aid. So, I told him to just shut up. He’s fat anyway. We shopped in the husky department for him.
Whereas, I got sent to Grandma’s to put on weight. She was a good cook. For the longest time, I weighed thirty-five pounds; when I hit fifty, we celebrated.
I started wearing a bra slip over my undershirt to school. No one noticed my strap.
I was allowed to wear an actual bra on weekends.
If Mary Ann or Carmella asks what I did this weekend, I’ll say, “I wore a bra without an undershirt. What’d you do?”