by Jane Doe
For the next year of my life, I kept flinging myself heartlong into the stream of womanhood, only to find myself stranded, again and again, bedraggled on the beach.
I begged Mother to order from Sears a gorgeous set of ruffled organdy curtains with a matching bedspread. In the catalog they looked as if a fairy godmother had floated by to touch the room with her magic wand of femininity. I had to live in such an atmosphere or I felt I would never make the change from being the child. Finally Mother agreed to invest the sum of $8.95 in my growth.
When the fat, lumpy package arrived at long last I still had high hopes. When the material turned out to be limp and frumpy with pink and blue threads wobbling across it, I became apprehensive. When it turned out that my bedroom window and those in the Sears book were of two different sizes, I hoped for a miracle. When the whole bottom ruffle lay sideways on the dirt-hiding-spatter pattern of the tan linoleum, I wanted to give up trying to be a girl.
At night the thin slippery bedspread would sink to the floor to seek company among the graying ruffles of the curtains. Only on Saturdays did I trouble to part them. Saturday afternoons I would pretend that my room looked like the picture in the catalog and I would sit by the window to wish that something male would drive up our lane to see me sitting there daintily concealed in lace. That's all they had to do. Just drive up the lane to look at me. Nobody came, so I'd get out the Sears book to look at the bra section.
The idea formed in my head that when one wore a bra the lane before the house would fill with activity. I read every word of the various descriptions, designs and materials. Wiser, I learned to read what they didn't say. I tried to judge uplift and outgo for every price garment. Weekly, I changed my choice. My bust never changed its size no matter how carefully I read and followed the instructions for measurements.
It would take a windy day for me to fill the flattest A cup. However, the front was not the most important part anymore after school started. Now other girls in my class were sporting the up side down table with legs patterns across the backs of sheer blouses. To hide the sag of my cotton undershirts I wore, in the warm September weather, a heavy gray varsity sweater eight hours a day.
At first I coyly left the Sears book open to the well-thumbed pages with the beginner bra ads. My mother was never subtle. I was learning, with sweat, that subtly got me nowhere with her. So after one particularly warm fall day, while she was getting dinner, I laid the catalog among the precisely placed silverware and plates to bluntly ask her if she would order me one of these. I couldn't say the word "bra" in front of her. She looked at me for moment as if I never existed and laughed.
I escaped into the tower of my castle – my bedroom to cry in the dusty ruffles. They didn't seem too concerned. To make myself cry harder, I nursed the phrase, She could have said `no,' but she only laughed." I refused to go downstairs for dinner. I considered locking myself in the attic and refusing all food that "she" offered me. I planned that I would sneak down at night to steal food from them until I grew great, huge breasts that would demand a bra on their own weight.
That was Friday night. When it got dark I looked into the shallow slope of the attic, I gave up my threat to live there to settle for the relative comfort of my messy room.
All day Saturday I stayed upstairs. To mother there was nothing unusual about that. She had a rule that I could not come downstairs until my room was cleaned up. If my accumulated junk offered many detours, I missed the baloney sandwiches and crème of tomato soup which was lunch for this day of law and order.
When the day light began to fade and I still hadn't showed up for a meal, Mother got the message. She came up stairs slowly as a train entering Siberia. She sat on my newly-made bed as she tried to be palsy-walsy with her one hundred reasons why I didn't need a bra. I stared at her with brimming eyes, saying to myself, "If she laughs, I will throw a screaming fit." I picked out the place on the floor where I would throw myself.
She didn't laugh, nor did she offer to get me a bra even if it seemed purposeless to her. It was a stand-off. I saw myself living for years in my room, getting so thin no breasts could ever burst forth on me. Mother and her determination started to leave my room. At the door, she casually tossed off the suggestion that perhaps a bra would make a nice Christmas gift.
Christmas! that was a forever away. The old gray sweater would take root on my skin by then. But, I accepted the tidbit to resume eating, if only for the development of a bosom.
Daily I sat in the study hall and counted the girls wearing bras. I counted my money and thought of trying to order one secretly. In our house mother left no room for secrets.
As always, when I seem in the darkest pit of despair, someone throws me a candle. Her name was Shirley.
In our small school, there were 32 in my graduating class, all the grades from kindergarten to the twelfth grade were in the same complex but grade school was very separated from the junior high - high school building. Going from the rarefied atmosphere of the sixth grade into the promised land of junior high exposed me to a new set of persons male and female.
The upper grade boys eagerly surveyed our class and within a week the prettiest three girls were wearing the fat class rings wound down to size with adhesive tape covered with nail polish. Even the eighth grade boys were handing out ready-to-green sweetheart necklaces. None of the junior high boys were as tall as I was so I quietly withdrew from the competition. I wanted a bra, not a boyfriend.
One day in the cafeteria, a tall, dark-haired, Gypsy-looking girl came up to me. "Do you live on the Knepper farm?"
"I'm Shirley. I live on the farm behind the Knepper's, just over the creek."
I hadn't realized there were kids on that farm because a different school bus drove by her place than the one I took. "What bus do you ride?"
"Number four, with Mr. Carlson."
"I ride number five." I murmured shamefully. I was ashamed that I knew so little yet about the new area where we had moved.
Why don't you come over tonight after you get home from school. If you go across the field, it isn't far. By the road it is much longer, but the creek is nearly dry so that's the closest way for you."
One visit was all it took to tell me Shirley knew everything I wanted to learn. I apprenticed myself to her breast and body. We even arranged it so I could ride home on her bus, stop by her house while she changed clothes, walk together across the field to be at my house before my bus got that far.
Shirley wore a bra. Shirley had had periods for years. Shirley even had a boyfriend, Eddie, who would ride his bike out to her house just to kiss her.
Between us was no privacy. After school, while Shirley changed her Kotex, I sat on the edge of the tub to watch her, admiringly. It was Shirley who taught me how to neatly wrap a used napkin. First you fold it in half with the used sides together. This you laid length-wise on the first piece of toilet paper on the roll and turned it over three times. With a flick of the wrist, you turned the shrouded roll sideways to roll it in that direction three times. Rip. A tidy little package like a piece of Japanese art. Would I ever learn to do that little twisting motion as well as Shirley did it? I was dying to practice.
It was Shirley who rescued my bosom with some help from my desperation.
"How long have you been wearing a bra, Shirl?"
"Since the beginning of the seventh grade."
"Do they last a long time?"
"What do you mean by that?"
"Are you still wearing the first one you ever got?"
"Great balls of fire! No." Shirley also knew how to swear but she carefully camouflaged her usual methods around me because every one in town already knew we were ‘religious.’
"Where do you get them?"
"Mom buys them for me."
"My Mother won't let me have one yet."
"Really? I think you are big enough you should have one." Oh, if only Shirley could have been my mother! – those were the exact words I wanted to hear. "I'm sure some of the ones I have outgrown would fit you. Would you like to have them?" Shirley offered generously.
It was all I could do to get out a nonchalant, "Yeah, sure." without squealing with joy.
"They are here somewhere." Shirley was looking for these reverent articles of my desire behind a hodgepodge of old tennis shoes and over-run saddle oxfords. After some rattling of clothes hangers and crashing a pile of boxes, Shirley emerged with two body-pink satin harnesses dangling in her hand. "They might need ironing, or even washing." she apologized.
"That's okay. And thanks."
"Sure. I'm just glad to get them off my closet floor." That was spoken like pure friendship – never truer or finer.
I stuffed the sacred objects in my zippered notebook so Shirley's mom would not see them and make me give them back. After an almost decent interval I made my departure, dying to get home to try them on.
At home, mother was waiting at the door for me. "Finally, you've come home. I need your help picking tomatoes and zucchini. The radio predicts there'll be a ground frost tonight."
"Mother, I've got lots of homework to do tonight." I tried.
"You'll have time enough to do that later. I want to get in all the vegetables I can before it gets too cold. It gets dark so early now." She had her head deep in the lowest cupboard to get out the largest pans. This was going to be a big harvest.
"Let the crummy old vegetables freeze." I muttered as I changed into baggy slacks and a shrunken sweater I was sure showed how badly I needed a bra.
Mother could only see food on the vines. I could only see pink bras on me. Finally it got dark and cold enough my mother and her frugal approach to life gave up. I wanted to dash right upstairs to get into those glorified wonders.
"Hey, what if they don't fit. What if I still had to grow more to fill them out?" Doubts doubted my joy. My desire was tinged with panic. Anyhow, I was eager to make a get-away in the direction of my still-zippered up notebook.
It was time to set the table. I tried to do it fast so I would have time to sneak upstairs for a fitting before she got dinner cooked. Out of nowhere that dinner appeared. Dad was home so we all sat down to eat. I silently sent each morsel of food to lodge in my breast. Now there were dishes for me to do. My appeal. "Mother, I've got gobs of homework to do. In math there are..."
"If you studied as late as you lie up there reading, you'd have time to do a week's worth of homework."
She was right. I did read until long after they were in bed. So I did the dishes. Super fast and not clean. I had to do the glassware over again.
By the time I got upstairs, alone at last, I was shaking so much I could hardly unzip the notebook. I laid out the two bras on my unmade bed as if they were holy objects. I yanked off the old tomato-smelling sweater to drop it on the floor. I slipped my arms into the limp hoops. I pulled the two loose ends behind my back as I tried to hook them
together. I couldn't see what I was doing. My hand ached from the cramped position of trying. How would I ever know if they fit? I thought in panic. Finally, reason seeped through inexperience. I recalled seeing how Shirley hooked her bra together in front of her before putting her arms in the straps. She would scoot it around to the right
Wow! What a warm rushing feeling when the satin slid over my breasts. The cups were all wrinkly from being under Shirley's shoes, so that they didn't stick out very far. I looked at myself in the dressing table mirror. I felt so dressed! So right. So this is the way it should be. Even the pinch of the shoulder strap felt good. Seeing the catch mechanism on the strap, I pulled them up even a tighter, so more of the cool cloth cup cradles my tingling tits.
I felt hot all over. Something was moving within my body. I reached down into my underwear to touch myself while admiring my new brassiere. All I had to do was to move a bit so my nipple hardened against the slippery fabric. The completeness of ecstasy filled me again and please once more.
Downstairs I heard dad turning out lights. I stood stock still with one hand pushing two fingers where they could do the most pressing within the engorged folds; the other hand pinched my nipple into a hardness to taste the sweetness of satin.
Dad called to me up the stairwell, "Don't you think you'd better quit for tonight?"
I wanted to smile at his unknowing comically accurate joke, but I had to sound bored when I answered. "Okay." In the dark I took off the fine things, just meaning to rest until mother and dad were asleep so they wouldn't hear me hand washing my new bras. But I fell asleep myself.
The next morning I woke, determined to never have another braless day in my life. I would wear the bra – washed or not. I put it on as if I had been doing this for years. I put on my thinnest green sweater and turned to the mirror with an expectant happiness in my eyes. Oh, no! All the wrinkles in the smashed cups showed. So I took everything off, put my pajamas tops back on, went downstairs, got out the ironing board, set the iron on satin and started to iron my bra. Mother came by.
"Where did you get that?"
"Shirley gave it to me."
"It looks like it needs washing more than ironing." she commented dryly.
Behind my sullen face I was saying to her, "That's all you know." It was the beginning of a new form of silent communication that I would learn to perfect with my mother.
Copyright © the Estate of Jane Doe 2010