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September 11, 2012

Some days my job working in an intimate wear store is uneventful.  And by that I don’t mean boring, because it rarely is, but simply that customers come, customers go, and there’s nothing really out of the ordinary about that.

Today was not one of those days.

I was a couple of hours into my shift when they showed up.  I greeted the rather disheveled middle-aged woman first, because she seemed anxious to get my attention.  She quickly informed me in a rather disapproving tone that her mother needed to be fitted for a bra.  I looked at her mother, a woman of some girth who smiled brightly at me.  It was pretty evident that she needed to be fitted, as her ample bosoms were swinging somewhere not far above her navel.  I smiled back and said that was wonderful, and that I’d be glad to help.

Mama seemed very pleased, and immediately announced that she wanted a push-up bra.  She demonstrated by gathering the aforementioned ample bosoms into her hands and lifting them to where she thought she would like them to be, which was several floors above where they were currently residing.

Her daughter was appalled.”No, Mom, you don’t!”, she immediately chided her mother.

“Yes, I do!”

“No, you don’t!”

“I do too!”

I quickly interrupted and said we had many styles that provided excellent lift, and that I was sure we could find one that would please her.  I then ushered her into a fitting room in an attempt to get her away from her cranky daughter.  Her daughter stood at the door and kept trying to answer the questions I was asking her mother about her preferences.  I finally figured out that unless I made it clear I understood the daughter, we weren’t going to get anywhere.  Once daughter felt heard, she was willing to leave her mother in my hands.  Mostly.

Mama, happy to have my attention all to herself, proudly told me that she’d recently lost 70 pounds.  She also told me that she was about to turn 70 years old.  I assured her that she didn’t look nearly 70 (which she didn’t), and congratulated her on her weight loss.  I began the process of measuring her.  Then, to see how close I was to her previous bra size, I asked her what size she’d been wearing.  She told me she didn’t know, and that I should just look.  I looked at the tag in the back and was sorry I hadn’t put on my glasses, because surely it couldn’t say what I thought it said, especially with a 3″ extender on it, but judging from the looseness, I realized it probably did.  I decided to play it safe, however.

“Does a 40 sound correct?” I asked.

“Oh, goodness, no.  I think it was closer to a 50.”

“Ok”, I said, “then that is a 48.  Well, I can tell you that you have indeed lost a lot of weight.  You are much smaller now.”  I told her I’d bring her the size that she measured, but that women don’t always wear what they measure so she shouldn’t be discouraged if it took us a few tries to find the best size and style for her.

It was about then she lowered her voice and announced that she had a boyfriend.  “My daughter doesn’t like me to talk about it”, she whispered. “She gets upset.”

I wasn’t sure how to respond to that, so I just said “oh” in a friendly but non-committal manner.

“He’s younger than I am.”


“Yes.  Ten years.”  My face was nearly frozen in friendly, non-committal mode.  She went on.  “I have a picture of him.  I’ll show you when you come back.”

I left the fitting room and wondered if by the time she left I’d know her blood type and preferred brand of laundry soap.  When I returned, sure enough– she had pulled up his photo on her phone.  I smiled at the photo of a rather creepy-looking dude who looked more than 10 years younger and refrained from asking where she had met him, because I was 99.8% sure the answer was going to begin with an “i” and end with a “t” and have “nterne” in between.   I simply said “nice” (friendly, non-committal) and handed her a bra to try on and tried to slip out of the room before she stripped, something I was only marginally successful at doing during my time with her.  She wasn’t shy.

Once daughter figured out that mother was trying on bras, she kept pestering to see and make commentary, as well as hand her mother other clothes she’d found that might fit her.  The latter was a good move, because 5x clothing does not flatter a newly slender 2x figure.  The commentary, however was hardly helpful, because daughter had a gift for making encouragement sound negative and scolding.  Mother didn’t seem to mind, though.  She knew what she wanted and wasn’t going to be bullied by her daughter’s control issues.

Frankly, I think she was too twitterpated by her December-August romance to care about her daughter’s bossy attitudes.

After some time she found the bra in which she was comfortable.  It wasn’t her best fit, but after wearing a worn out bra with a band that was a good ten inches too big around, she was simply unable to adjust to a truly proper fit.  However, she was a lot closer than she had been previously, and sometimes that really is good enough.  Baby steps.

Daughter asked her what size she was buying.  Mother told her.  Daughter then asked me what size she really wore.  I tried to diplomatically say that her mother had chosen a “sister size” to her optimal fit, which was quite true, but daughter was having none of it.  She pulled out a piece of paper and a pen and demanded to know what exactly her mother had measured.  I once again reminded her that women don’t always wear what they measure, and that we simply use the measuring tape to give us a starting point.  She said she understood, but what size did she really wear?  She jotted down the number, and I hoped she didn’t try to secretly return her mother’s bra for a “proper” size later, because I really wouldn’t put it past her.

Daughter and mother paid for their purchases and left.  Mother was quite happy about her bra and a new top she’d found.  I’m not sure daughter was happy about anything on the planet, but it wasn’t for lack of someone being nice to her in spite of her unpleasantness.

And of course, before the day was out, wouldn’t you know daughter was back to return her own personal purchases she’d made.

Some people’s kids…


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