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What Goes Around, Comes Around: Old Age Frees the Girls

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Whoever said old age ties one down? Today is the day I decided to liberate my “girls.”

The perils of growing older are many and the path is fraught with many pitfalls. Just when your mind and spirit mature to a reasonable level, the body decides to give out. This is what happened to me, thanks to heavy lifting and an outing on my roof.

I could never understand why most old ladies go braless, but they do. Think comic strip character, Maxine. My mother and my mother-in-law used to go sans brassiere, as well as some of my critique partners. In the mall, I see ladies older than I in halter tops. These brave females throw caution and ta-tas to the wind, with no regard to what other people think.

I recently read something cute on a tote bag: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body thoroughly worn out and screaming…WOO HOO, WHAT A RIDE!”

I am on my way to making “WOO HOO” a sole cause while on my downward slide into the inevitable.

Ignoring my husband’s pleas (as we have crappy health insurance), I decided to go to my doctor for shoulder pain that has been nagging me for months. Recent x-rays and ultrasounds of the affected area found not a torn rotator cuff, but a badly sprained one. This caused my husband to perform a happy dance for the vote of no surgery. Then, of course, he realized expensive, non-covered physical therapy is involved in my treatment.

I could tough it out, but I can’t lift my left arm, nor can I reach behind. This makes several tasks extremely difficult: my yoga workout, washing and drying my hair, lifting the garage door, and putting on my bra.

Today is the day (after excruciating pain resulting from back hooks not meeting as they should) I have decided to ditch the over-shoulder-boulder-holders. That’s right, I’m letting my girls out free.

As I was gimping into work today, I realized that I have now gone full circle when it comes to intimate apparel. As a post-Woodstock, burning-bra feminist teenager with barely anything to support, I was radically against the wearing of bras. This continued until I registered for a class at the University of Minnesota in fashion design. In the world of late enrollment, you take what you can get. Instead of staying on the Minneapolis side and maybe taking Creative Writing 101 (again) or The Art History of Mayan Culture, I decided to spread my wings and head over to the St. Paul side for a class in the fabric arts.

Part of the class requirement was to partner up and measure each other to make hand-made patterns. This ended up a minor embarrassment for me, as I was the only braless one in the room. Since bras are expensive, I dropped out of the class. I still wonder what my partner did and whether she still holds it against me.

I was tenaciously bra-resistant until a few years later, when I landed a job with the Federal Government. Suddenly, I had supervisors looking down my shirt. Even if I wore jeans and a tee shirt (and I wore plenty, having a wardrobe of over 30), I ran the risk of some pervert looking through my jersey. Under advisement of a Higher Up, it was time to invest in some upper support, even if the so-called support was not much more than a band-aid.

Somewhere after that, I went bra-crazy. I went push-up. I went lace. I went colors of the rainbow. I went to Victoria’s Secret, where I could get coordinating panties and lots of bustiers. I spent so much at Vicki’s Panty Shack that I would have hundreds of dollars in rewards certificates at the end of each year.

Then came maternity bras and nursing bras and suddenly I had a bosom to beat all bosoms. There is an upside to breast-feeding, ladies.

I suppose I could get front-closing bras, but why waste the money?

Now, of course, I am old. The kids are in their twenties and there is no way I’ll be birthing any more babies. These days I am built for comfort, not for speed. My bones are brittle and my tendons can’t take it anymore. And what’s most important, I no longer care what I look like.

I’m definitely skidding into my grave sideways.

And braless.

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About Joanne Huspek

I write. I read. I garden. I cook. I eat. And I love to talk about all of the above.