A couple of months ago my friend Liz and I went shopping. She was looking for a camisole for an upcoming show, so we hit a few lingerie stores. This, of course, led us to Victoria’s Secret.
I felt conspicuous holding my Coffee Bean cup as I fingered lace tops, watching the salesladies watch me. Liz couldn’t decide between two different tops and I explained the difference between a top with a shelf bra and one without. She grabbed her own breasts. “I don’t need a shelf. I’m fine on my own.”
I told her about some tops at Banana Republic, and she decided to head over there to check them out. We headed down the spiral staircase and out the door, passing a saleswoman with a measuring tape around her neck. As we walked back into the bright sunlight, something made both of us stop walking.
“You know, I’ve always wanted to get measured at one of those places,” I said. “Just to see if I’m wearing the right bra.”
She smiled. “I was just about to say the same thing. Let’s go.”
She turned on her heels and went back into the store. She walked over to the measuring tape lady and stood with arms akimbo. “Measure me,” she said, not quietly.
The saleswoman smiled and put the tape around Liz’s back. She joined the tape at the center of Liz’s chest and said, “32A.”
“Wrong!” Liz shouted. “Wrong on both parts. No.”
“No. You mean 34B.”
“You’re a 32A. 32B’s are big on you, right?”
“Nope, uh, nope. Been wearing 34B since high school and that’s how it’s gonna be from now on. That’s what I wear. I am a B. I’m a B!” Liz put her hands up in the air and turned to the rest of the shop. She shouted, “Ladies, I’m a B!”
The measuring tape lady tried to be polite. “Have you ever tried an A cup?”
“No, because I’m a B. B cup. Always. Check these out. They’re B’s.”
“You might find an A cup more comfortable.”
“You might try backing off, lady!”
“Liz!” I said, like a reflex.
Liz pointed at me. “Measure her.”
The measuring lady came at me with both arms outstretched, the tape looped between her hands. She went around my back. Before her fingers had even touched in front of my chest she says — and I shit you not — she says, “Forty-four….”
“What?! NO.” I was blushing, hoping that the measuring tape lady would be frightened off and would shut the hell up.
Liz was laughing. “Forty-four?”
“44B,” the measuring tape lady actually said.
“No! You couldn’t possibly be wronger,” I said.
“I’m a 34D. 34D. That’s a real bra size. 44B? Are you serious?”
“But you’ve got a lot on top.”
“Yeah, they’re boobs.”
Liz leaned forward towards her. “She’s got big boobs, girl. You just called her big boobs a fat back.”
“I don’t have fat back. I’m a 34D.” I raised my hands and did the same Training Day maneuver that Liz just pulled. “Ladies! 34D in the house!”
This is when the measuring tape lady pulled a little walkie-talkie out of her pocket.
“Oh, Liz. She’s calling security. We’d better go.”
“No, I’d like to talk to a manager. Someone that can measure me again. I need someone to measure me that understands the numbers and letters that go into a bra measurement.”
Now the measurement girl was blushing. “I’m new,” she says.
“Yeah! No kidding!” Liz was pacing.
“I’m not a 44B.” I somehow felt it needed repeating again.
“Pamie.com” (because that’s what she calls me all the time) “it’s clear that you are not a 44B. And I haven’t been an A since I was in junior high.”
A manager walked up. The measurement girl handed over her tape measure like a kid caught with a stolen cookie.
“We’d like to be measured,” Liz said again.
Liz was first. “32B or 36A.”
Liz’s hands plopped to her sides. “It’s like you’re just saying measurements so I’ll try on lots of bras. Do I just get to pick one? 32C. I’ll pick that one.”
“Well, your breasts will change throughout the month, and sometimes you’ll be a B and sometimes an A.”
Liz wasn’t hearing it. Again she pointed at me. “Measure her. Here’s a hint: Don’t say anything starting with the word ‘Forty.’”
The woman measured me. “36C?” She said it like a question, like she was guessing.
“34D,” I corrected her.
She smiled. “That’s the same thing, basically,” she said.
“You’re only saying that because Victoria’s Secret doesn’t carry many 34D’s and you’re trying to pass off your 36C’s.”
The women looked caught. She knew I was right but she couldn’t say anything.
“Let’s blow this joint, pamie.com.”
Once outside, we finally stopped being offended, and started laughing.
“44B!” I screeched. Did she accidentally get trapped inside the measuring tape with me before she looked at her fingers?
“100X! That’s not a boob, that’s a car!”
“We’re sorry, ma’am, but it turns out you don’t have any boobs. They fell off as you entered the store. Perhaps you’d like to buy some fake boobs.”
“That’s totally what they were doing.”
“I’m not an A.”
“I know, Liz.”
“I have great tits. So do you. We have great tits.”
“Yes, we do.”
“That lady shouldn’t be allowed to measure things.”
“Can you imagine her trying to buy furniture?”
“She’s got one room with a gigantic bed stuffed inside it and nothing else.”
“Come on, Tits. I’ll buy you some lipstick.”
Liz and I went to Sephora, where I tried to pick out a new lipstick color. I’m always such a wimp when picking out something new, afraid I’ll spend seven bucks on something I’ll never wear, and I’m too grossed out by testers to put the product anywhere near my face.
I asked Liz if she liked this one type of red.
“I guess it’s nice,” she said. “Is it too red?”
“It won’t be once I matte it down with powder.”
Liz looked at me as if I said, “It’s for my vagina.”
“You don’t put powder on your lipstick.”
“What? Why not? To matte it. So it doesn’t come off right away the first time I drink something or eat or back when I used to smoke… Why are you looking at me like that?”
“You don’t put powder on your lipstick.”
Now the makeup saleslady had to chime in. “Don’t ever put powder on your lipstick. Why would you do that? No, never. Don’t do that.”
Homegirl had lipstick not only way outside any kind of lip line, but in an alarming jag across her front teeth. A small clump of lipstick appeared to be stuck between her middle lower teeth, as if moments before she chastised me for putting powder near Sephora 306 she had been sucking on a Lipscicle.
“Okay, I’ll stop,” I said quietly.
“Good!” they both said. But I’ve gotta tell you, I still don’t understand why you wouldn’t put powder over lipstick, before you apply gloss. Doesn’t it keep the color longer?
It’s so hard to be a girl the right way.
I relayed the boob story to a friend of mine later. When she stopped laughing, she asked, “What did you think was going to happen, anyway?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “I guess I thought she’d tell me where to tighten the shoulder strap and where to loosen some other strap and then compliment my rack.”
“Well, you don’t go to those Victoria’s Secret ladies. You go find yourself a nice old lady at Macy’s or Foley’s or whatever crotchety department store, and you find that woman that’s been measuring boobs for thirty-seven years. She’ll measure you correctly.”
“We just thought it’d be fun.”
“44? Did she measure both of you at once?”
“You can’t even blame it on dyslexia.”