Once upon a time, I thought underwear was redundant


‘I still don’t trust any enterprise requiring a bra.’

Apologies for being so late with my story this week. My morning was consumed by getting my second Covid-19 vaccination at good ole “Jabits” Center.

Me, this morning in line to be jabbed. No coffee yet, which might explain my masked — and hooded — look

It went a lot smoother than the first time, since I knew where to go and all — and I wasn’t quivering from First Timer Anxiety. (Speaking of the First Time, you may wish to revisit “My Morning at Jabits Center.” Or not.)

There were oh-so-many more people there for shots today. So it was a good thing there were plenty of kind, polite and younger-than-springtime National Guardspersons to guide us, quite literally, through the ropes.

Many people, many lines. Nope — it’s not coach class checkin at JFK — it’s the vaccination line at Javits Center

I for one was glad they were wearing camouflage, since it — counterintuitively enough — made them easy to spot. I mean, if the National Guard wanted their camouflage gear to actually blend in with the background in an urban setting, why then they’d wear uniforms patterned with, say, red brick, perhaps punctuated with splotches of grime or even graffiti — instead of that conspicuous Desert Storm print.

Speaking of wearing things. I was wearing a bra this morning. Not a fancy lacy pushup number; it was what they call a “sports” bra — though I have never ever worn one for “sports.” I wore one today because I had on a white short-sleeve tee shirt and I didn’t want the person administering my shot to jolt back in surprise at untoward bumps. (It might be cold in there, being a large drafty hall; or I might (hah, “might(!)” be nervous.)

Me, not wearing a bra. Though not in a chilly line at Javits

See, I am well past the stage of wearing a bra because I actually need one. To be perfectly honest, I never actually needed one. Except for when The Child was a tiny nursing baby. And even then the whole “needing one” thing was highly debatable. (See “I Seen Smallah” for a pretty darned hilarious — and, if you’re like me — highly relatable story about the pitfalls of an underendowed Topside.)

Me, out and about on an occasion requiring a (nursing) bra

Back in the Seventies it was not only the fashion to go braless, you were making a political statement by ditching your Maidenform. I didn’t go so far as to burn mine, but I must admit that going without felt very liberating — especially since, unlike my more healthily endowed sisters, I didn’t really need one. Why, back then I even went so far as to to eschew underpants.

You’ll be happy to learn that, while braless, I am indeed wearing underpants with this outfit

Yes, I’d actually skip the unders (forgive me, but I cannot bring myself to say “panties;” such a hideous word, “panties”) when wearing jeans or tights or those running shorts with pants attached. Like in the photo at the top of this post that was taken after the ’81 New York City Marathon. I used to claim that underwear was redundant. Extra layer. Can’t see it anyway. Redundant, right?

Back in my Braless-as-Fashion-and-Political-Statement Days. This was so long ago that I’m pictured with my Starter Husband. See “My Polio-Shot Marriage” for titillating (sorry) details

Well, these days I always wear underpants, you’ll no doubt be relieved to hear; I realized long ago that I wasn’t actually saving on laundry by skipping them. But I only wear a bra when not doing so would draw attention — unwanted attention. Like when getting a vaccine against a deadly virus. 

Is she wearing underwear? The Shadow knows

Or when attending a black-tie event. Black-tie event, you say. Who on earth is attending black-tie events these days?

Well, me actually. Believe it or not, I went to a black-tie event just last week. I was seriously excited. It was not only my first fancy “do” in more than a year (not that I go to that many), but it was the first time in many months that I’d eaten food that I myself had not cooked.

The “do” in question was given by an organization of physicians that Dr. Dude belongs to. The doctors take turns inviting one of their patients to give a talk while everybody (wearing tuxes and cocktail dress) enjoys an amazing dinner — cooked by somebody else! (I can’t say that enough times.) In years past I’ve broken black-tie bread with Gloria Steinhem, Jacques d-Ambroise and Tom Clancy, to name a few.

This time it was a guy who is a bird expert (Roger Pasquier, writer of “Birds in Winter”) so Dude Man said I could go. (I wasn’t unduly pandemic-panicked, since I’d had my first shot and everyone else — doctors — was 100% vaccinated.)

Speaking of birds. Another time I skip the bra. Other layers are much more important. Like leech socks. (See “Leech Sock it To Me!” for hideously off-putting details)

I have to say that it felt amazing after months of sweatpants to put on perfume and hairspray and my fancy watch and a gold chain and carry a teensy little handbag with just a lipstick inside. Gosh. Even strapping on that bra felt good.

But, as the night wore on, I found myself distracted from the speaker because I was constantly aware of that bra — it wasn’t that it was uncomfortable, I just couldn’t forget that I had it on. All I can say is that it’s a good thing I wore my trusty black-tie-suitable pantsuit and not a cocktail dress. Wearing pantyhose would have been sensory overload for sure.

New York City. March 2021



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9 thoughts on “Once upon a time, I thought underwear was redundant

  1. I am so with you on panties being perhaps the worst word ever. It was underpants for us–girls, boys, everybody. Panties were maybe only worn by Victoria’s Secret models, and I didn’t know any! Oh, a black tie event. Sounds wonderful. I’ll work my way up, starting with a haircut next week!

    • Yes! There is an old movie called Anatomy of a Murder where the prosecutor, played by Raymond Burr, keeps waving a pair of unmentionables at Lee Remmick’s character on the witness stand while sneering, “Are these your panties!?!” Scarred me for life. Oh, Happy Haircut!!!

  2. I love this story. I too am a member of the coming of age in the 70s, bras are evil, why should I generation. To this day, if I have to wear a bra, it comes off as soon as I get home. (Actually, sometimes on the drive home!)

    • Oh yes! She was marvelous. During the Q and A, I actually defended her against some reactionary FOD (friend of doc) who tried to impugn her character. My Finest Feminist Hour. Gloria, of course, was marvelous. Speakers are granted a guest at these affairs, but Gloria insisted on bringing a whole rainbow posse. So cool

        • I simply must write a post about that night. The crowd at those events can be a tad reactionary/conservative/stuffy — having a feminist icon as a speaker was a breath of fresh air. She did wear a fab black-tie outfit that was, quite literally, black: kind of a flowing top and equally graceful pants, cinched with a belt with an amazing sort of Native American inspired great big buckle.

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