Showing Your Wits
Dressing for the Occasion
LORI OSIECKI ILLUSTRATION
You finally get home from work, and if you’re a man, maybe the first thing you do is get a beer.
If you’re a woman, you reach around back, unhook your bra, and slither out of it without taking off your shirt. And you take your first wonderful deep breath since you got dressed that morning.
Then you realize you’re out of bread. Or coffee for tomorrow. Or wine for right this minute. So you pull on your baggy sweatshirt and zip off to the grocery and keep your arms folded in the checkout line.
You only have to worry about this if you got boobs of a certain size, which I didn’t have until I got to a certain age and had babies. But now I do and I am a expert in the bra-off maneuver.
Now, my sister-in-law Gloriosa been having boobs of a certain size since she was 14, so she is even better at it.
Last week, she had just got home from her kids’ school where she heads up the committee for the Shoebox Irish-Italian Parade—which the school holds because they obviously think that with Mardi Gras, St.Joseph and St.Patrick’s, there ain’t enough parades in town this month.
The kids’ shoebox floats were supposed to be inspected the next day, and mounted on little wagons, and in a couple of weeks the kids will parade around the block pulling them and throwing left-over Mardi Gras beads plus mini-cabbages (brussels sprouts) and fava beans.
Well, Gloriosa had gotten into a little tiff with Dolly Crach, who trains the dance team, because Dolly wanted the girls to twerk —twerk!— and their parade position would be right there behind the Baby-Jesus-and-Mary float. Gladiola said “Twerking for Jesus?” in kind of a smartmouth way and Dolly took offense, and Gloriosa had to apologize three times.
But now she’s home, bra off. Which is when her little daughter Momus announces she still needs some things for the float she’s making. So Gloriosa will have to dash to the drugstore. She says the hell with it, leaves the bra where it landed, and pulls on a baggy sweatshirt.
I don’t blame her. We waste too much time trying to get comfortable in our own clothes. When my son Gargoyle was little, he was always happiest stark naked. He’s grown up now, and got his own apartment, and it’s probably still true.
Men. They think NECKTIES are torture. I can be standing there in a bra and Spanx, plus a dress that I have to keep tugging down to be modest, and high heels, while my gentleman friend Lust whines that his tie is strangling him. A little piece of cloth hanging around his neck. It don’t pinch; it don’t itch; it don’t even touch his bare skin. I should play a violin.
Anyway, Gloriosa scuttles around the drugstore, hunched over, looking for green construction paper and glitter glue. Wouldn’t you know, she spots Father Primsoll from school browsing the greeting cards, so she zips in the other direction, finds Comus’s stuff and grabs some wine.
She’s standing in the checkout line, and there’s a tap on her shoulder. She spins around. Father Plimsoll is standing there “Didn’t you forget something?” he asks. She panics. “Well, Father, it was a stressful meeting, and when I got home I wanted to get comfortable, you know how it is”— she realizes he ain’t married; he don’t know how it is, but she blunders on —- “and then my daughter said she needed some stuff for her float...”
“Calm down,” she tells herself. “Deep breath... inhale...No! ” She exhales that inhale. “I’m sorry if I offended...’
“...Brussels sprouts?” says Father Plimsoll. “Have you ordered Brussels sprouts? For the students to throw?”
“Brussels sprouts! Yes.”
She turns her back on him, pays the cashier, and gets out of there.
Home again, muttering about Brussels sprouts.
“Mama,” Comus asks, “when I grow up will you teach me that dance?”
“I’m too old for twerking. ”
“Noo—slithering out of your bra without taking off your shirt.”
“Some things come naturally, Sweetie,” she says. And opens the wine.