Have you seen the nice chairs positioned not quite right next to the fitting rooms in the lingerie section of Nordstroms? Are they there for you to test drive how your new panties feel while seated? To see if they cling to your right butt cheek when you quickly rise to a standing position? Maybe you are supposed to roll around on that little chair to see if the thong will come out of your crack with the right method of leaning and wriggling, without actually using fingers to pry it free? Actually, I know the answer to this one.
It is The Chair of Shame that the awkward father sits in when he has the job of helping his daughter purchase her first bra.
He sits there, trying to be as respectful and as non-pervy seeming as possible. He is sweating a bit more than usual. He is jingling the change in his pockets a bit more frequently. His glasses suddenly need to be cleaned. He tries to be patient as he not so patiently keeps checking the time and wondering just how long it can possibly take to put on a bra.
That poor awkward dad was my dad. What a trooper. And how do you think that feels to a 12-year-old? Wow. I would have sold my soul for the opportunity to shrink myself down to half my size while simultaneously taking on the transformative powers of a chameleon. I walked as invisibly as I could through the isles and isles of bras, trying to grab a few to try on without actually looking at what I was grabbing. My dad would say stuff like, “is that the right size?” and my cheeks would burst into flames. He had the nerve to say, “oh that’s a nice looking one!” as I grabbed it closer to my body, trying to smuggle the bra and my shrinking tom-boyness into the fitting room.
The bra fitting nazi, an expert on how a bra should hold your boobies, and how it should fit across your rib cage came in to check on me. I’m thinking, “God woman, I don’t have a shirt on! Do you mind? A little privacy would be great!” as she sticks her finger between the elastic and my skin and proclaims it “TOO SMALL!” Well, yesterday I wasn’t wearing one, so how can it be too small? Am I a mutant, growing Baywatch-worthy boobs overnight? Maybe it’s just a swollen gland or something. I AM feeling a bit hot. Maybe feverish.
My dad sweetly calls around the corner, “How you doing sweety?”
“DADDY! DO NOT COME BACK HERE!!!” (poor guy)
Oh, my sweet childhood is quickly fleeting and being replaced by this aching teen thing that comes with boobs and increasing body fat, and that stupid period thing, and it doesn’t feel very comfortable. How am I supposed to be a tom-boy with boobies?
My dad was such a good guy. Little did I know that he was probably twice as uncomfortable with the whole scene as I was. We finished the painful task of being fitted and buying the bra, and walked quickly towards the food court, our heads held in shame. Neither of us spoke of the things we had just witnessed. It was simply too traumatizing. We buried it successfully for years, pretending I didn’t have boobs or bras, or that I was even female, for that matter.
That was good and fine until I found myself in the same weird position, in the same Nordstroms, ten years later. My sister was getting married and I discovered my bra didn’t fit with the dress that I had bought for the rehearsal dinner. Here we were again. My dad sitting in the hot seat. Me, trying on bras, avoiding the bra fitting nazi like the plague. They scare me. The bra nazis, I mean. Bras don’t scare me too much. Unless they look like that pointy thing Madonna used to wear.
When someone is there to contemplate the fit of my bra and the genetic shape of my chest pillows, I think that I probably hold my boobs differently. I’m sure I suck them in or something. Protecting my vital organs. As I left the fitting room, my dad (trying his best not to be awkward and uncomfortable) asked to see what I had found. Urrrr. Okay. Here it is. Some fancy lacy thing. C Cup. Black. Ummmm.
“That’s very pretty,” he said.
We quickly walked to the food court, avoiding eye contact, and never spoke of it again.
In my bubble, the awkward chair next to the fitting room does not exist. It’s not the Chair of Shame. Actually it’s not a chair at all, it’s a couch. The Couch of Dad. They have a big screen t.v. in front of it, showing only football and other “manly man” shows. Fishing. Whatever. They serve chips. The dads are allowed to completely dissociate from the entire experience and get to pretend that their little girls aren’t growing up. The girls do not have bra nazis to deal with. All the bras are already in the fitting rooms and they have “how to” directions on them. Give those girls some privacy. My bubble has privacy, the Couch of Dad, and some funky tunes to dance around to in that fitting room. Maybe Madonna? Pappa Don’t Preach?