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Words From Adelaide: El Suprema

...She shouted at the top of her screeching voice, for the whole store to hear, “Melissa! MELISSA! THIS MAN WANTS TO BUY HIS BRA, CAN YOU COME AND HELP HIM ?” About 50 pairs of female eyes were now staring at me, and 25 mouths, all talking at once, as they discussed this transvestite pervert—me...

John Powell, fulfilling his duties as an errand boy for his incapacitated wife, ventures under potest into the bra secion of a large store.

‘Darling, what are you doing?’ El Suprema's voice came from the lounge. I should have known better, after all the years of marriage, that the worst thing you can reply to that age-old question from the lady of the house is, ‘Nothing, dear.’ Had I replied, ‘I am spreading grass seed on the kitchen ceiling’ or ‘I am trying to practice how to balance on my head on a bottle’ then I would have got away with it. But ‘Nothing’. Well there is no word that immediately conjures up thoughts of mischief, misdemeanours, general skullduggery, mayhem and murder, in the mind of any El Suprema than ‘Nothing’.

‘Good. I want you to go to the K-Mart and buy me a bra.’

‘NO! No way! That's secret women's business. I don't know anything about the subject or that geographical area.’

‘You don't?’ she asked, raising her eyebrows in mock surprise, then continued, ‘Darling, how can I go with my ricked ankle? I have to ask you to go. Look, it'll be so easy for you. Just look at this picture I've cut out of the junk-mail for you.’

I was trapped; even that ricked ankle business was becoming a bit suspicious; it didn't seem to bother her when the 'phone rang. She went like a Bondi tram.

Gentlemen readers; have you ever ventured into that inner sanctum, the bra section of a large store? And survived? The variety and the overwhelming displays of bras, bras and more bras is bewildering and I had no idea that there were so many different shaped bra types: lace support, moulded stretch, full figure soft cup, embroidered minimiser, push-ups, balconette contour, mesh underwire, T-shirt bra, booster T-shirt bra and scores more, the winner being, wait for it… a ‘5-way convertible’. Daunting! Frightening! Overwhelming; and the knowledge that out of the millions of them you have to pick just one—what's more the right one, well, it is soul-shattering. Talk about stress!

I looked at the picture and the brand name. Where was it? I thought I'd start in a fairly central row which was, mercifully, empty of shoppers.

All the bras are suspended, one behind the other, on at least a couple of thousand metal bars, sticking out from the wall. Well, the front one had the wrong name; I went to look behind it and the whole bar became detached from the wall and an avalanche of displaced bras cascaded down onto the floor in a heap at my feet. My first thought was a panic-stricken impulse to flee. Did I say there were no shoppers? Wrong; there were suddenly at least five women staring at me accusingly. I knelt down and started to gather up the bras. That was only half the problem. To hold a score of bras with your arms and, at the same time, replace the display bar with your hands is, well impossible. I let the bras drop on the floor and fixed the bar. The bar dropped again. I swore.

By now the number of women spectators had doubled and although I am sure they were all strangers previously, they were now all chatting away intimately, animatedly and staring at me. I fled.

It was an impossible task. I needed help. As usual, there was no shop assistant anywhere but then a miracle; one swept past me, and I managed to stop her.

‘Can you help me, please; I want to buy this bra.’ I showed her the picture. She looked and replied, ‘Well this isn't my section, but I'll get the girl who can help.’

She'd said, ‘I'll get the girl’. I wish she had; instead, she shouted at the top of her screeching voice, for the whole store to hear, “Melissa! MELISSA! THIS MAN WANTS TO BUY HIS BRA, CAN YOU COME AND HELP HIM ?” About 50 pairs of female eyes were now staring at me, and 25 mouths, all talking at once, as they discussed this transvestite pervert—me.

Reaching the sanctuary of home, and still cold-sweating, I waited until El Suprema got off the phone.

‘Oh darling!’ she exclaimed, ‘You brought the wrong colour. I said, “beige”; you’ll have to go back and exchange it.’ Looking at my face she burst out laughing; nothing unusual at that, many women do, ‘Just kidding you, sweetee’, she laughed. I received a hug and kiss as reward.

Big deal! I could have had that in any case, without all that ordeal.

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