On training bras and doing whatever your friends tell you to do

It’s 1980-something and I’m in the back of mom’s station wagon, sitting on blue vinyl with my neighbor Lauren sitting across from me, and we’re on the way to school. Jenny and Kevin are in the car as well. Lauren says to me, “Why don’t you ask your mom if the tooth fairy is real?”

It’s never occurred to me that the tooth fairy may not be real – of course she’s real, duh! She brings me quarters! – but I pretty much do whatever Lauren tells me to do. Without a second thought, I open my mouth and shout up to the front of the car, “Hey Mom, is the tooth fairy real?”

I see Mom’s face register surprise, and then awareness of the other young kids in the car, as she makes eye contact with me in the rear-view mirror. “We’ll talk about that later,” she says sternly.

In that response, I know the answer. I spend all day at school in a state of disbelief over the trickery that is the tooth fairy. I don’t even have to wait for her to sit me down after school to explain to me that Mom and Dad had been playing the role all along. “How long were you planning to keep this from me?” I demand. She tells me they had decided they would tell me whenever I did ask. “But I wasn’t even the one asking!” I complain. “Lauren told me to!”

In that, I feel cheated. I had grown up too fast, all because Lauren told me to. Stupid Lauren.

That night, as I lay awake in bed unable to sleep, another thought dawns on me. I jump out of bed and run to the kitchen, where Mom is cleaning up after dinner. “Does this mean Santa is not real?”

She answers. “The Easter Bunny, too?” Confirmed.

Gasp. Shock. Sorrow.

And lest you think this incident left me more mature and adult, I’ll confess that Mom asked me not to tell Lauren what she told me. And I agreed not to. And then promptly told her the next time I saw her. Hey, if I had to know the truth, she did too!

——-

 I’ve already told my fake first-kiss story, so I won’t go there again. So I’ll tell you of one of the other staples of entering the teenage years: The bra. It was a Big Deal about who got to wear a bra first. Amy and I shared many discussions about bras long before we got them. And although we were both flat as boards, she finally got to enter that circle of adulthood, and alas, I had not.

“You need one,” Amy said matter of factly one day amist playing make music videos to Eric Carmen songs which involve a jump-in-the-pool-while-holding-your-nose ending.

“Your boobs are big enough,” she told me. They were not, but I appreciated the vote of confidence. And really, she only said it because mine were slightly bigger than hers. So if hers were big enough, mine definitely were.

Of course, I was way too scared to ask Mom to get me one. That would have just been embarassing and weird.

Finally, one day Mom came into the bathroom while I was showering. “Ew, Mom, get out,” I commanded right before she said the words I had been waiting to hear –

“I think it’s about time we got you a bra.”

Finally! I was an adult! Amy was already a proud training bra owner and now I would be too!

So, I got a bra. And the whole world seemed different. Changing in gym class was no longer embarassing – I was in the has group now. When cute boys would pop my bra strap there was no more awkward moment of “nothing elastic on my back.” You could see it through white shirts, the outline of adulthood and maturity.

That summer I hung out for two weeks at my grandmother’s house with my cousin Andrea, like I did every summer. Andrea was a year younger than me but had way bigger boobs. But she didn’t yet have a bra.

“I don’t know why you even have one,” she said, which angered me. “You don’t even need one.”

“But mine are bigger than Amy’s,” I thought. “And she got a bra way before I did.”

It’s all relative.

——-

I remember these stories as if they just happened. I remember how I felt when I learned the devastating news that is not the tooth fairy, what my house looked like, Lauren’s bowl cut and cowlick (I thought she was so cool that I even wanted a cowlick). 

I remember being jealous over Andrea’s A cups when I had a AA cups (or AAA cups). I remember feeling on top of the world when I finally had a bra of my own. I remember the pride in my voice when I told Amy over the phone, “I went shopping today and I got a bra!” (And for the record, I probably still don’t need a bra. Ah, well. Can’t win ’em all.)

So it’s probably no surprise that Amy’s post yesterday made me stop in my tracks. She writes about her oldest daughter discovering there is no tooth fairy, and about her child’s first “boyfriend.” This cannot be happening.  I feel like Amy and I should still be the kids, not at the age where she has the kids that are going through these things. Amy’s post title is right – Just stop all this growing up, Missy – but I mean that for she and I!