Today I didn't wear a bra and it made me feel kind of uncomfortable. I'm not one of those people who technically needs to be wearing one all the time, but since circa 1999, I've pretty much always worn every undergarment that could be necessary in a given situation. The way I figure it, at least I'll never regret wearing them.
But I didn't always see it that way. As a youth, I went to hippie college, or "hiking school" as my dad calls it. It was small, liberal artsy (with an emphasis on the liberal) and located in what I like to call the Crystal Belt of Arizona. There are a lot of shops that sell healing crystals in central Arizona. In fact, while I lived there I frequented the crystal shop of this psychic named Ann Marie who believed she was regularly getting hit on by the ghost of a horny old gold prospector. Ann Marie said he mostly hung out in her car, so sometimes when I was coming down the valley to visit her, she would ask me to pick up a pack of cigarettes or a gallon of orange juice because she didn't feel like dealing with him. I honestly can't say I blame her. Plus, she read my tarot cards for free, so I kind of owed it to her.
Anyway, the school I went to had a motto: "Education is a Journey, not a Destination." It should be noted that 85% of the incoming freshmen at this college began their journey with the kind of lumpy, beaded, filthy dreadlocks only privileged white kids from Minnesota or Birmingham can stand to grow out to their full expression. About 0% graduated with them. A lot of girls wore backless shirts. I once actually found myself at the grocery store wearing tattered Carhartt overalls I fished out of the school free box and a piece of fabric tied strategically around my torso, in lieu of a shirt. I had been wearing this get-up for a few hours, and suddenly I looked down at myself while standing in front of the refrigerator case at Prescott Natural Foods, and my brain was like, "Honey, no." So I put my basket down with everything in it and walked out the door, got in my Subaru Justy, drove directly home and put on a shirt.
Unbelievably, this is not the incident that made me start wearing underwear every single day of my life. That was this next time, which I'm fixing to tell you about.
Once when I was at a party, this kid came up to me and just started talking. He was exceptionally drunk, and I didn't know him very well. He was in one of my classes, about 19, Jewish I think, from Los Angeles, and his father was a movie producer or something. He wore expensive sunglasses and impressively ornamented dreadlocks which I imagine were profoundly unsettling to his parents. I can't remember his name for the life of me, but I remember he always called other guys "brah." I had never heard that before.
So rarely does someone hand you a completely unsolicited critique of your entire existence, that when someone does...well, it makes you reconsider some of your life choices. That's what happened with this kid, at this party. This is how it went down:
"Jesslyn! Hey! That's crazy--I was just talking about you to Micah a little while ago. Yeah.... I was saying I think you're like an 8. Like for real an 8. And Micah was like "no way, brah," but my argument was like, sure--if I just saw her on the street? Or if I just met her or some shit? I'd be like, she's like a 5 or 6, looks-wise. I mean, don't take that the wrong way because--waywaywaywaywait. Wait. Don't take that the wrong way because I'm just trying to be real with you. And I'm wasted. But then when you talk to you and shit? You find out like you have this attitude that's pretty bad ass, actually. Seriously--I can tell you don't believe me, but believe me. You're kind of a bad ass, which is hot. And you're fucking hilarious. But then the other thing is you have awesome tits. For real--never nurse a baby or whatever because I'd be afraid it would ruin those girls because they're killer...."
Yeah--that's the moment I started wearing a bra. In fact, the way I remember it, I turned around went home that very minute, passing my best friend Elizabeth in the hall who was my ride home, but she making out with some guy she was probably supposed to be selling weed to. So I walked about two miles home and when I got there, I seriously considered stapling a bra to my chest.
And that's the reason I always wear all the undergarments I can get my hands on.
You might be interested to know that I had one other conversation with my assailant, about a year and a half later. He had cut off his dreads, grown this weird little goatee and wore tiny, round tortoiseshell glasses he bought in Prague, where he had spent the summer. I had to give him a ride home from a school field trip and he talked the whole time about this bottle of absinthe he smuggled home from the Czech Republic. I don't think he remembered The Incident. And then he left his sweet-ass camera bag with $35 in the pocket in the back of my car, and you know what I did? I kept it.
Well, he never asked for it back! And also that guy deserved it.