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  • Laura Packard

Slip Sliding Away


Alright, fellas. Listen up.

I am about to use a word that is 99% assured to make you giggle, stand up straight and then all of sudden start paying attention.

It’s a phenomenon, really. And it doesn’t matter what age you are, either. But see, for us ladies, if I put another word in front of that one, well, it’s no longer a laughing matter.

I’m talking about side boob, y’all. And it’s all about the yearly summer sleeper already starring at a pool near you. That’s right, this merciless, mean-spirited and ever-present predicament seems to always rear its ugly, celluloid head just in time for us to wiggle our way into sundresses, swimsuits and cute little tank tops.

Seriously. I stand in front of my bathroom mirror in my flowy, strapless, boho maxi dress and just poke at mine. Then I start addressing them directly. One at a time. As in, where did you come from? Why now? Did you just really jiggle? How rude. It’s like you (the side boob) said as soon as the weather turned warm and days grew long, ‘I’m not going this way. I’m going to go that way.’ As in, up and over the arm sleeve of my spaghetti strapped tankini top. And I carried you two, selflessly, all these years and now this. Well, shame on you.

Then again, maybe I’ve been misunderstanding Newton’s Law of Gravity all along. I was taught everything that goes up must come down, am I right? I didn’t know eventually some things don’t simply fall down like they’re supposed to. They slump over sideways and then hang there like a pair of over-ripened fruit.

So, this summer, instead of cross fit, boot camp and/or invasive surgery (‘cause I’m a realist and I’m going to wait until I’m 90 to call my kids in to help lift me off the toilet so they’ll still visit every now and then), I decided to do something about it. I fasten everyone in, leave the kids at home, and drive to the nearest department store.

Now is the time to fess up. I haven’t been bra shopping for a while. Years. One, because I’m lazy. Two, I don’t like to face the truth, especially naked (40+) from the waist up, in a three-way floor to ceiling mirror, illuminated by brutal fluorescent lighting while Adele intones, from an overhead speaker, “When We Were Young.”

Plus, it’s plain overwhelming these days to shop with all of your bra choices. It’s like Starbucks:

Tall, Grande, Flat, Understated, Overstated, Extra Coverage, Extra Extra Coverage, Full Coverage, Minimized, Smooth, Smoother, Binded, Blended, Bliss, Breathable, Devoted and Nursing… just to name a few.

I finally stop by a display of “No Side Effects” bras. Finally, I think I’m on to something. Thank the lord, someone somewhere is at least spelling it all out, calling a spade a spade. It’s not just me. See, no one else wants side boob, either. If there is a supply, there’s demand, darn it. This means I am not alone.

Through upon further digging and sorting, I realize I now have to choose between “No Side Effects” without lift, “No Side Effects” with a light lift, or “No Side Effects” with a large heft and huge tug.

My brief feelings of Norma Rae solidarity reside and now I’m 90 minutes in, spewing tears, not to mention sitting in lotus pose on the well-worn, crusty carpet floor while people openly stare. I have no choice now but to close my soaking wet eyelids and rip one of the gigantic pieces of foam and shiny fabric straight out of a random rack, regardless of whether it’s an A cup or a double, double, double D.

Once in the dreaded, dreary dressing room, I unlock, unsnap, wrangle in, unzip, zip up and buckle into what I can only describe as a mini scuba suit without arms or legs. It soon becomes difficult to breathe and now BANARAMA warns me of a “Cruel Summer” followed by a boy band cover of “Big Girls Don’t Cry.”

It probably comes as no surprise I left empty handed.

Oh well, as my favorite heroine, Scarlett O’Hara preached and I said to myself the whole way home, “I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

Then I did what any other self-respecting Southern woman would do. I parked the car, went inside, pulled up my swimsuit, attempted to stow the girls away the best I could. Finally, I poured myself a proper drink and headed to the pool.

That’s right. Tomorrow is just that. Another warm, leisurely long and lovely summer day.


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