Maggie Wilson Author

Historical Non-Fiction in Northern Ontario

Late Bloomer

This one’s for Stephanie, one the funniest gals I’ve met on WordPress. Sister in writing and in underwear or, I suppose, blogging and bra-gging.

WordPress suggests that I write about my strongest memory of heart-pounding belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did I respond?

Short answers:

Q: What caused the adrenaline?

A: I wanted to ask my Mom when I’d get a bra.

Q:Was it justified?

A: Of course. I needed to have “the talk” and didn’t have the vocabulary.

Q:How did I respond?

A: I nearly fainted.

1966 Christmas Ham

1966 Christmas Ham

When asked the questions above, I wracked my brain to recall a time when knickers were a-knot and tummy a-flutter. Nothing surfaced. In most situations, I’m one cool cucumber. Or a class clown, take your pick. Either way, I never shy away from public speaking or performance. I’m not particularly well-spoken, or captivating in a role. It is simply this: I have a well-developed ham-bone.

When have I been really nervous? When did I faint? Once, post dental surgery I nearly blacked out, but that was the drugs. Then there was the time during a spectacular thunderstorm, the hair stood up on the back of my neck. A lightning bolt just missed our house. The hair-raising event was more the mechanics of a thunderstorm than sheer nerves. That said, science was not much comfort during the rest of that storm which I spent under the covers, whimpering like a puppy.

Then I remembered: the time that I finally screwed up  my courage to ask Mom about getting a bra.

I would have been 11 or 12 and was one of the few girls in my grade who had not yet “matured” beyond the undershirt. Since it was a topic in the coming-of-age stories in books and teen magazines, I identified strongly with the Ugly Duckling and wallflowers. On one hand, I was mortified that the boys made a game of snapping a girl’s bra straps, but at the same time, I craved that attention.

ugly duckling

Ugly Duckling created by Tomislav Tomić

I hesitate to confess: my brothers were not the only ones who lingered over the lingerie pages of the Sears catalogue. But it’s true. I wanted so badly to wear a bra. The idea consumed me and morphed into an obsession.

But how to go about getting one? The only way to the shops was through the lady of the house, the keeper of the purse and the purchaser of all things lingerie related.

So, ask already, you say. What’s the big deal?

I didn’t know how. Mom and I had not yet had “the talk”. (Nor would we, as it turned out. She plunked down a pamphlet from her girlhood and said, “Read this”, and that was all there was to my sex education.) The obsession was not only about possessing something, it was coloured through and through by a blend of shame, desire, and a measure of excitement.

I rehearsed my speech and waited for the right timing. Finally, the moment arrived. Mom was at the stove situated just inside the doorway leading to the front hall. I stood at the threshold (oh, come on, how corny is that?) and hung onto the jamb for dear life. I rocked back and forth.  I addressed her in a voice just a notch above whisper.


“What?” Abrupt. She was busy.

Swallow. Rock. Swallow.


And then I started to black out. My eyesight blurred and my ears buzzed. All the while I was swallowing and rocking, I had forgotten to breathe.

“What is it, Margaret? Make it quick, I’m busy.”


The jolt of her words slapped me out of my dilemma.

Recovered, I finally blurt, “When am I going to get a bra?”

“When you need one.”

With that she turned from the stove and carried on with her chores.

At the time, I thought, “Not the right answer, Mom!”  But I was not going to argue. I took the dismissal as a lucky break and skedaddled back to my room.

Today, I see that she rescued me from my overwrought self. Jean The Pragmatic had reduced my overblown obsession into a simple matter of timing.

Sometime afterward I got my bra. I have no recall of the event. I can only imagine it was slightly more involved than shopping for underwear or socks. It was a “training” model. Unlike my friend Stephanie, I did not require the use of the word cleavage until my forties. Today it would seem that I can claim more than a well-developed ham bone!


 Photo Credits

Ugly Duckling

Queen of Hearts

Categories: Blog Blog Blog, Mom and Dad, Personal Growth

Tags: , ,

15 replies

  1. Grrrr, why oh why, are you not showing up on my Reader, Maggie? It’s not like I wouldn’t come directly to your blog anyhow, but it sure would be nice if the paperboy could hit the front porch once in a while. Anyhow, this was so evocatively written that between this and your posting on the dinner table in your home, I am getting a very poignant portrait of “Margaret’s Formative Years.” Also, my mother had the same pamphlet from her own junior high school days and I HATED THAT THING. I despised going into the auditorium for the special film for us girls only as well and the ribbing the boys gave us when we walked red-faced back into the classroom where, wouldn’t ya know it, some pimply faced kid, snapped my bra strap. I WAS mortified.

    Thanks so much Maggie, it’s unbelievably kind of you to direct this eloquent post to me. I am truly honored.


  2. Wow. My mom ordered little booklets from the life insurance company and handed them to me, sent me to the room I was temporarily sharing with my bro, and told me not to come out until I read them! I was the opposite. I began to have “them” in fourth grade… When I put on the cross-the-heart safety guard (crossing roads) belt some kid in my class called me “fat” (I wasn’t). Those painful days that are also rather funny (now). 🙂 I enjoyed reading this!


    • Hi Martha, and thank you. So, that’s where the books were published, the life insurers. I do recall some industrial/commercial trademark. Mom kept the pamphlets in her vanity drawer. I came across them years before she finally gave them to me to read. But more than that, I remember the discomfort and confusion I felt after I read them. The tone of the pamphlets varied, if my memory serves. By turns admonishing, pompous, factual.
      I do agree, humourous on reflection, but at the time… gah!


  3. Well, alrighty then… How did we get on this subject anyway? (That was a rhetorical question; I followed the trail back. Thanks for all the markers.)

    So, between the two of you (yes, you, Ms. Stephanie), deep murky memories that had been safely swirling in the wormhole have bubbled to the surface. “Itty bitty titty committee?” Check. “Snapping bras in junior high?” Check. “Boys staring at breasts forever more?” Check. “Can’t wear just any little lacy bits?” Check.

    Let me just add: Never seen wearing a low-cut top/dress? Check. (Let’s just compare my cleavage to the Grand Canyon and leave it at that.) Never wear a bikini (because they don’t make the tops in the “over the shoulder boulder holder” size)? Check. Not sure which Prince Charming fell in love with first, my ass or my boobs? Check. Boobs exploded further after two kids and two weight gains? Check. Boobs not decreasing after three weight losses? Check, check, check.

    Official size today? 44DD my friends, and without an industrial strength bra they flop down around my stomach. Snap THAT bra strap and see what happens to ya.



  4. And a hearty good morning to you, my dear! Keeping abreast of current events are you? Lovely to have you join our titillating conversation!
    Sorry, I had to. Two giant mugs of coffee, and I’m no longer accountable for what this keyboard might have to say.


  5. Like yours, my mother gave me “the talk” by pointing out a pamphlet. Hers was from Modess. Every now and then, she reminded me that it was on the bookshelf in the living room so I could refer to it as needed. I never comprehended its purpose until some time after my friends had taught me what I needed to know.

    It was at least a decade before I associated it with the item that I found in my sister’s closet that made such a nice carpet for my doll house. I couldn’t find the word Tampax in our dictionary at the time.

    First, I asked for a girdle. The slutty girl who sat next to me in homeroom on the first day of 7th grade talked about wearing one, so I just had to have one. My mother had ones that smelled like old rubber bands. I was sure that that was not the kind that the girl had in mind. My mother was shocked and horrified and told me to put it out of my skinny little mind. She and my sister insisted that the girls (I exaggerated a little) must have meant “garter”, and reminded me that that was what pantyhose was for.

    Years later, I insisted that I jiggled just like my sister did. I flatly refused a “training” bra, and insisted on size AAA, thinking of the best meat.

    I’m glad that you and I crossed paths at that bra’d Stephanie’s blog. It sure is a fun place to hang low.


  6. Hello Grace! Thanks for jumping on broad. I mean, on board! Your stories made me smile. I do not have children of my own, so I am completely out of touch with what a contemporary mother and daughter chat might be like. Please tell me that it is different than it was for us?
    You actually helped me to recall another episode from my childhood. Though in my case I did NOT want to wear the girdle. NOT NOT NOT! I’ll have to put that little nugget into the drafts folder!


    • Are we all jumping on broads? Oh, right.

      I didn’t do as well with my daughters as I would like, but I did a whole lot better than leave them a pamphlet in the living room. My youngest says that her friends can’t believe the things that she tells me and that we talk about, so I guess I didn’t do too badly. My best sex talks were with my son, and my youngest listened in on parts of them. One was a great discussion about words and body contact and how they can be interpreted. We had a lot of fun with it. Funny. As I look back, I had the best, most open sex talks with my son. They weren’t talks – they were conversations, as they should be.

      Shall I dare to say that he was more up front about sex while my daughters are more inclined to keep it inside? Sure, why not. It’s time for a laugh.

      I look forward to when you girdle your blog.



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