We talk about boobs a lot in my house. Specifically when, if ever, I plan to put a bra on.
“Mike’s on his way here, babe,” warns Ike as I’m lounging sans support on the couch.
“OK, thanks for sharing.”
“I’m just telling you so you won’t have to rush upstairs right when he gets to the door.”
“Rush upstairs for what?” I ask knowing the answer but wanting -- no, needing -- for him to say it out loud so that the whole world can hear the injustice.
“So you can put a goddamn bra on!”
What is the deal with men and freedom?
I grew up in a naked house. My mother considered it a sin to go five seconds past the front door without unhooking her bra and then flinging it like it was on fire across the room. Only after that did she take her shoes off. Clothes were for mouth breathers. I didn’t realize most people prefer the company of pants until I got to college and more than one roommate walked in on me naked and instead of joining in yelled, “Jesus, Helena!” I still didn’t get the hint.
But with every relationship comes compromise, so for Ike's sake I usually have clothes on -- unless I don’t. Where I started drawing the line, though, was bras. It all started when we had family come over to stay with us. For seven months.
Ike and I had only been dating for six months and living together for three weeks when suddenly the life we had yet to get acquainted with ourselves was completely disrupted. I could almost handle the fact that now two men were touching my things. Two men were farting on my Bo Concept couch. Two men were sucking up all the air without so much as a “mother may I?”
It wasn’t until Ike expressly asked to put a bra on one day that I realized how much my life had really changed. Here I was, free-boobing it and loving life one minute and then having my Netflix suggestions ruined by someone’s obsession with “Jersey Shore” the next. All while wearing a straitjacket on my tits. I must have been crazy to sign up for this. So I started revolting.
“Helena, the guys are coming over. Are you going to put on a bra?”
“Are you going to put on a three-piece suit? No? Okay then.”
It went on like this until one day when Ike walked in on an impromptu girl’s night wearing a sweaty and sleeveless T-shirt. I told him to put some damn clothes on and he obliged with a devilish grin. I’d been made as a closeted double standard bearer.
We all make tiny concessions in order to live with the one we love. I hate for any door to be open unless it's the front door. Something about a bathroom door being cracked just so makes my skin crawl. I can't sleep with the doors ajar. So Ike dutifully closes every single one before bed. And I'm sure thinking, "Chicks be crazy" while doing it. But he still does it. For me.
Still, at the beginning every concession seemed liked a failure for not only me but all womankind. Was I being a bad feminist if I cleaned because he was horrible at it? Or put on bras when he asked? Or was I being a good girlfriend?
For a while those types of questions kept me up at night -- not as much as an open bathroom door, but still. Now I just get over it. Sometimes I think my "appropriate for strangers" laugh-o-meter might be a tad bit off, seeing as how I was raised sorta like that kid in Jungle Book. Are boobies really that big of deal?