Thursday, October 8, 2015

Truly, I Have No Boobs. Intimacies Says So.

Freakishly long arms and no boobs, but he did OK. Source.
From 2003, the snakebit year.

Saturday in Little 5 Points was a lonely, lonely day. Nothing like going to a giant Halloween parade by yourself to make you feel freakishly isolated. This morning I was determined not to feel blue, so I did what I knew would chase away my existential doubts and fears: I went to Target. I went there bent on finding some low-priced yet fashionable sweaters for my upcoming trip to Norway. And boy am I glad I did, because I saved the day! Yes!

I had just walked into the store and was heading for the down escalator to the women’s wear/fishing tackle section. I had to wait for a second before stepping on the escalator because of the two women in front of me and their approximately 15 children under the age of 8.

These two women were struggling with a huge shopping cart that was loaded down with Halloween booty. They had tons of candy, orange and black streamers and lights, 10 or 12 Power Rangers costumes, a big plastic tombstone to put in the front yard, and a giant plastic sparkly pumpkin the size of a small igloo. The kids were shrieking with excitement about the impending escalator ride, and the moms were trying to position the heaping cart onto the belt in between the escalators that carries the shopping carts down.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen one of these things, but they are pretty nifty. It’s a long rubber belt that has teeth in it that close around the cart’s wheels. The cart gets carried down next to you while you ride down the escalator. This is a fairly new thing in Atlanta and people are still kind of scared of it. They haven’t quite got it figured out yet. Case in point: the ladies finally got their cart secured, but failed to consider that the cart would be tipped at about a 45 degree angle as it made its way down the belt. As soon as the teeth closed around the cart and it began making its way down, it became clear to everyone what would happen.

The women screamed and grabbed at the handle of the cart, but there’s no way to get it loose once it begins its way down the belt. Miraculously, the only thing that fell out of the cart was a medium-sized box containing the Halloween lights. All of the people who were backed up waiting for the escalator watched as it bounced down the belt and became wedged about 6 feet away from the bottom of the moving belt. We all looked at each other in terror as we contemplated what would happen when the cart made its inexorable way down and bumped up against the box. Would the cart upend itself and spill everything else out onto the belt? Would it become jammed too, and cause all the other carts behind it to crash into it? What would something like that sound like? Would there be a fire?         

As I stepped onto the escalator, the women and their brood raced down the steps screaming.

“Oh my god, oh my god!” They screamed to everyone and no one, “Stop the belt!”

“Mom!” hollered the 15 kids at both the women, “Our lights! Our lights!” The man behind me turned to the yuppie couple behind him and bellowed “Stop the escalator!” and, somewhat unhelpfully, “Run!”

I was halfway down the escalator, heading into the yowling clutch of women and children at the bottom. I looked down into their horrified faces and couldn’t believe it when one of the kids, who must have been about 7, began climbing up the belt towards the lights.

“Tony! Stop!” cried one of the women. But Tony kept right on going. This was getting serious, I realized. Tony was going after the lights and was clearly going to either be a) crushed by the oncoming cart, b) crushed by the metal teeth closing around his ankle, or c) sucked underneath the conveyer belt. As soon as Tony began climbing the belt, all the adults around him, even the ones who were on the floor and had not been privy to the original events, began screaming.

“Stop the belt! Stop the belt!” they shrieked. In spite of all the screaming, though, nobody moved. Except me.

In my best “Stop poking that quail!” voice, I bellowed, “I’ll get it, Tony!”

I raced down the escalator and, when I came even with the jammed box of lights, threw myself over the side and tackled that package with both hands. My legs stuck straight out behind me as I lay on my stomach trying to wrench the box free. The box anchored me in place, but the motorized rubber handrail kept moving, pulling my shirt up around my chest and leaving a big red chafe mark on my stomach. I turned my head to the left and saw the cart bearing down on me, the big plastic pumpkin grinning. I saw the man who had yelled at the yuppies turn and begin running up the escalator to avoid crashing into my scissoring legs. I pulled as hard as I could and the box came free.

“Yay!” screamed everyone, “Yay!!!” I landed on my feet and held the lights over my head as I descended down into the waiting throngs. “Here are your lights!” I presented them to the beaming mothers, who hugged me as the kids clung to my knees.

“You have such long arms!” cried the overjoyed mothers, “Your arms are so much longer than ours! Thank God!”

“Yes!” I shouted, triumphant, “I DO have long arms!”

The rest of my Target shopping experience was like a beautiful dream. “There she is,” I imagined the customers saying as I perused the ribbed merino sweaters (Mossimo, $12.99), “Look at how long her arms are!”

At the cashier’s I stood all the way back from the register when the clerk told me how much I owed. “Here you go,” I said from far away, my back pressing into the gum display, “Here is my credit card.” I held the card out to him at arm’s length, looking down at him and raising my eyebrows impressively.

“Uh, thanks,” he said, leaning over the counter and gingerly taking my card.

OK, so I’m exaggerating a little, but not about the critical escalator details. I saved the day! Go me!

I was feeling so great that I decided to go across the street to Phipps Plaza, the toniest place in Atlanta, and buy a new bra. To understand what this means, you must first know a couple of things.

One: Heather (my step-sister) one of the most status-conscious people I know, STILL has not gotten over the fact that I once bought something at Phipps. When, 6 years ago, she saw my shirt and asked where I got it, she choked on her Chardonnay when I innocently said “Phipps Plaza.” (I’d just come from South Beach Miami, where K-Mart is more expensive than Phipps Plaza.) 

“Pri-CEY!” she yelled, and then “Probably more than you can afford!” (Incidentally, this will explain why I always yell “Pri-CEY!” and “Probably more than you can afford!” whenever anyone says “Phipps Plaza.”)

Two: Douglas (my ex-husband) once went to buy me a sweater at Phipps Plaza for Christmas. Unbeknownst to him, all Christmas shoppers at Phipps are treated to all-they-can-consume champagne and strawberries. So what did I get for Christmas that year? A string of pearls! Probably more than we can afford!

Anyway, I went to “Intimacies” in Phipps Plaza to buy a bra because I once saw my friend Erin take her shirt off. “Erin!” I said, “Are you wearing a padded bra?”

“No,” she replied.

“Well then, where did you get those boobs?”

“Ah,” she nodded sagely, “I went to “Intimacies” in Phipps Plaza.”

“Pri-CEY!” I yelled.

“Uh, yeah,” she said. “But you know, most women are wearing bras that are the wrong size for them. It’s hard to find a bra that fits correctly. But if you can find one, you look a lot better. Like me.” Erin showed off her satiny boobs. 

“Hmmm,” I said, tucking this information away. Since then, I have eavesdropped on many girly conversations involving Intimacies at Phipps. So today, I decided to go there. “What will happen?” I wondered. They apparently measure you, or hook you up to electrodes, or something. I envisioned a refined, humorless 66-year-old librarian type in a grey smock with a chignon and a tape measure. “Lift your arms!” she would demand in a vaguely Teutonic accent. Good thing I shaved today.

So I went in there, not knowing what to expect. “Hello!” As soon as I walked in a very bubbly, somewhat pudgy saleslady who was probably about my age bopped up to me. She had dyed blonde hair and was wearing a very snug sparkly brown sweater. “I’m Angela! What can we help you with today?”

“I, uh…I need a bra that fits me,” I whisper to her, looking around furtively at the empty store.

“OK!” she yells, “Let’s just go in here!”

We go into a very tiny, very pink dressing room. It’s so small that we are standing right up next to each other. “What kind of bra were you looking for?” Angela shouts, “Demi? Padded? Plunging? Strapless? Backless? Crossover?”

“What? What?” I feel completely panicked, cornered by this round woman in a space the size and color of a Pepto-Bismol bottle. Plus, why is she yelling? We’re talking about UNDERWEAR here, Angela, please exhibit the appropriate amount of shame and embarrassment. “Uh…I, uh, have no idea. I just want something that fits.”

“OK!” she screams, “What size are you?”

“36B maybe?” I offer hopefully.

“Oh no no no,” she snorts, “Your back is too small! You’re really skinny! You’re definitely no more than a 34! Maybe even a 32!”

“You can tell that just by looking at me?” I say, somewhat defensively. “Don’t you have to have a tape measure, or something? Plus, look at how long my arms are!” I fling out my arms, causing Angela to duck.      

“Well, honey, there’s only one way to find out. Let’s see ‘em.”

I roll my eyes and lift my shirt. Angela gapes for a while at the red welt on my stomach and then proclaims, “34A.”

“34A?!?!” I shout, forgetting that one is supposed to be quiet when surrounded by underwear. “34A? You’re downgrading me?”

“I’m sorry, sugar,” drawls Angela, reaching out to pat my shoulder. “But this’ll fit you much better.”

I pace back and forth in front of the mirror while Angela disappears to find a suitable bra for me. I suck in my stomach, puff out my chest. 34A? What, am I ten? Truly, I have no boobs. Intimacies says so. I consider getting breast implants. Could I do it? Would it be worth all the pain and health risks just to be able to go into a bra store and have the salesladies nod their approval at my C cup? I squeeze myself together and blow some hair out of my eyes as I look into the full-length mirror. “Probably more than you can afford,” I say out loud. 

Angela bangs on the door and opens it before I can say anything. “I have a great bra here for you!” she enthuses. I take the flimsy piece of cloth she’s holding out to me and am surprised to see that there are no cartoon characters printed on it. It does, after all, seem to be an actual adult bra. I try it on, and am impressed when it looks good, and makes me look good. “Hey,” I say, “This looks OK.” I twist around, looking for the price tag. “How much does this cost?”

“$200.96!” gushes Angela, clasping her hands together and jiggling up and down in various places.

“What!?!” I scream, completely unhinged. “Listen, Angela, thanks to you I’ve just found out that I don’t even really NEED A BRA! And now you want me to pay 200 dollars for one? Are you crazy?”

I realize that I am sweating profusely and am topless and have backed poor buxom Angela into a hot-pink corner. I run my hand through my hair and try again. “OK. Look. I’m sorry. But do you realize that this bra costs more than my car payment? That it’s ¼ of my MONTHLY RENT? Surely there is something here a little more REASONABLE, given the NEWS you’ve just given me and the SMALL AMOUNT OF MATERIAL I will actually be paying for.” Angela scurries away and returns moments later with two more reasonably priced scraps of fabric. I try them on and find them suitable. “OK,” I declare to the disappointed Angela, “These will do.”

I purchase the bras and peel out of the parking lot past the valet parkers.

“Fuck this noise,” I decide as I speed south on 85. “Who cares about bras? Not me! What’s important to me, anyway? Doesn’t it count for anything that I just rescued two families’ entire Halloween experience? Let’s see Paris Hilton do that!”

I realize that I need some kind of mental sherbet to make up for the realization that I will truly never be able to do internet porn. I need a palate cleanser, something to remind me of my non-bosomy roots. I remember suddenly that a movie I’ve been wanting to see for a long time, the Ramones’ “End of the Century,” is playing at a theater near my house. Great, I think, that’ll put me right. I steer the car into the lot and go stand at the end of the line to get my ticket.

I’m standing there waiting when a swarthy man in a sharkskin suit approaches me with his mousy blonde date. “Ehhh, excuse, please, me,” he says, tugging on my sleeve. I look at him and immediately realize from his vowels and his footwear that he is Russian. Oh boy, I think, what now? “Yes?” I say, raising my eyebrows politely.

“Ehhh, can you be explaining to me please what kind of movie theater is this?”

“What?” I say.

“Ehhh, where is the place to see the regular movies?”

“Ohhh,” I say. “The closest regular movie theater is at (ironically) Phipps Plaza (pri-CEY!).”

“I see. And what kind of movies are they seeing here?”

“Oh, well, these are art films.” He looks at me blankly and I can see that he doesn’t understand what I mean. I try again. “These are movies that no one wants to see.”

“What?” he says, understandably confused.

I can see that I am getting nowhere, so I take a big deep breath and launch unexpectedly (to him and to me) into Russian. “Well, my friend,” I say, completely changing personalities and clapping him warmly on the back, “These are the films that are made by the man who is concerned with the creative side of his head. Who sees the unusual side of life and says, ‘Why not me?’ Who films the things that ordinary people are scared of. They say, maybe my job, maybe my home, maybe my family, but the man who makes these movies says ‘No! I love the sadness!  I love the music! I love the dreams! I love the death!’” 

“Boje moy!” said the man after I finished my tirade. “Ehhh, thank you.”

The two of us stood there and looked at each other for several long, intense moments until the woman behind the counter yelled, “Step up please, ma’am!” I said goodbye to the man and his flustered date and purchased my ticket. Sure, I may have no boobs and freakishly long arms. But so did Joey Ramone, actually. And look at how far he came! If he could do it, so can I, I guess.

So all in all, a good day. A rescued family, a new bra, a punk-rock international experience, and some inexpensive yet fashionable sweaters, which is really what I hoped for when I set out today. Happy Halloween, everybody.

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