I love my grandmother dearly. And every summer we would drive, not fly, drive from Minneapolis to New Jersey to see Mim’s and my aunts. While in New Jersey, we would drive out to Staten Island and get to listen to the time that my dad laid pavers (I have heard this story so much, I feel like I was there) in front of the house he grew up in and we would eat at a diner but we were only allowed to drink water because “its the best water in the country”. I am assuming because its Staten Island and its been treated so much in order to make it drinkable. We would see the Aunts and Uncle Sal. The Aunts, all 4 of them, lived in the same house for years, none of them every married and when you’re italian, if you dont get married off, you will live with family for the rest of your life.
From the ages of 6-18, we did this every summer and it always coincided with my birthday. So nobody sent things in the mail like normal people but each and every one of my family members took me shopping. Separately. My Mimi is 81 years old, she still thinks it 1984 and that “dungarees” should be pleated.
We never saw eye-to-eye on fashion. Of course my mother was not invited on these shopping trips because she would be the voice of reason and I am pretty sure Mimi blamed her for me dressing like “a ragamuffin”.
At 14 we’re off to Macy’s. Me and Mimi. I thought that I could get past this shopping trip this year by telling Mimi all I wanted was a bra for my birthday. I think the conversation went like this:
Mimi: What do you want to get at the mall this year for your birthday?
Me: You know Mimi, all i really need this year is a bra. Can we just do that?
Mimi: A BRA?! (pronounced brar)
Me: Yeah, you know, thats it really, I’m set for school clothes this year
Mimi: Well, if thats what you want for your birthday…A BRA…we can get that
My Nana worked in the Foundations Department in Macy’s for most of her adult life, so I figured the Macy’s underwear department in 1998 is a place Mimi would feel comfortable in.
We walk into the department and I quickly pick up the pace spotting my normal brand, grabbing my normal size and then she catches up to me. “Well…this one is very sheer, what about this Bali one over here?”. Let me tell you something about the bra she was proposing. It made your boobs look like that cone thing Madonna wore years ago. Torpedos. I would have torpedos under my sweater.
In order to not cause a scene, I agreed to try it on. I grabbed a few more to make it a real shopping experience, not just an errand, and i beelined to the dressing room.
I was closing the door.
and Mimi was behind me.
So now its just me, and my grandmother, in the Macy’s dressing room in the underwear department.
“Well aren’t you going to try them on?”
Look, at 14, I had the bra thing down. I had been wearing them for awhile, I knew what fit, I knew my size, I had a brand.
She starts taking off my shirt. Oddly, this is also how i lost my virginity. For another time.
There was screeching and shrieking.
She agreed to wait outside while i tried them on and then she would come in and “check the fit”.
She agreed it fit. I quickly put my clothes back on and wouldn’t make eye contact with anyone the rest of the day. I had been violated. However, before it was all said and done, she said that I couldn’t just get 2 white bras, they needed to be beige. This life event has scared me to the point that I will never buy a beige bra in my adult life.
Now that I’m an adult and she knows that I have the bra thing down, she sends me tablecloths. I have more tablecloths than I know what to do with.