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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Do they wobble to and fro? Can you tie them in a knot?

Gentlemen, if you will excuse us. Yes, I'm quite serious. I'm about to discuss something delicate, and you men have no part of it. We'll see you tomorrow then.

I was in the toy aisle at TJ Maxx, scoping out ideas for the boys' Christmas, when it happened. Another woman, there with a toddler, asked me if I saw a particular toy. I was mid-answer when I saw her eyes drop and widen. Simultaneously I felt the front fastener of my brassiere burst open. What on earth? This has never happened before.

Turning my back to the other woman, I reached up the bottom of my shirt, thinking to refasten it. Instead, I felt the pieces of the broken clasp fall into my hand. Good goose on the loose, I do not need this.

I snatched a toy drum from the shelf in front of me and clutched it as a shield, my mind turning furiously. Must get out, must get out, my brain chanted. As I passed the redlined linens, I exchanged the drum for a rectangular tablecloth marked down to $3.00 Have I mentioned we have two dining tables at our house? An oval and a circle.

I did a fine job of crossing my arms - sadly quite low - at the checkout, and thankfully the TJ Maxx bag with my tablecloth inside was huge, but then what?

You see, like most women, I have a Favorite Bra. Make that had - mine had just died. The others, in my top dresser drawer at home, were adequate, but Not Quite It.

It was then that I remembered the hushed conversations I'd heard in lingerie departments all around the city, every one of which contained the same words: Hanes Mill Outlet.

The Hanes Mill Outlet, on Mill Street just off of Stratford is, indeed, directly underneath the factory. Here's what this means:

1. You will hear large, wheeled bins or some such being pushed over your head.

2. You will know that you are shopping in a basement.

There's little effort made to pretty it up - I found six previously unseen grey hairs with that lighting. But at all times there are certified bra fitters there, at all times there are half cupsizes there, at all times there are hard-to-find sizes there, and at all times you can expect to save somewhere between 20 to 30%.

Within my own size, I found bras to minimize, bras to push them up to a freakish elevation, bras to make me look like I was packing twin torpedoes, bras to make me look like I wasn't wearing a bra but gravity hadn't yet been so cruel, and, thankfully, a new Favorite Bra. I bought two to be prepared. I may carry an extra one in my purse at all times, the whole TJ Maxx thing was that traumatic.

I also bought a new sports bra. The package assures me that it's versatile enough to wear on its own as a top. With no shirt over it, do you understand? Let me tell you now, that will never happen. You're welcome.
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