Today we’re tackling…drumroll, please…bras.

That’s right, you heard me.  Bras.  Brassieres.  Undies for the upper body.  Intimates.  Undergarments.  Lingerie, if you want to get really fancy about it.

Those of us who are of age (which, frankly, should be ALL of us since I can’t imagine very many 8-year-olds frequent Riddle from the Middle) have come to accept this particular article of clothing as commonplace.  If you aren’t one of the lucky ladies who has a drawer stuffed with these delightful items, then you’re one of the lucky gentlemen who’s encountered them anywhere from the mundane laundry basket to more engaging situations.

Of course, you might also be one of the gentlemen who has his own drawer of lacy intimates and to you, sir, I say Welcome to the Sisterhood of the Brassiere.  It’s an expensive hobby and not always comfortable, but whatever floats your boat.

Females seem to go through a life cycle when it comes to bras.  To a young girl any bra is beautiful – even the simplest white cotton bra can be made pretty by a little bow adornment, or at least that was the case when I was young.  It might be a bit different now.  These days when I wander through the girls’ department I’ll see everything from white to hot pink to leopard print (yes, seriously), leaving me to ponder the urgent question of whether girls even worry anymore if their bra shows through their shirt.

As girls age into teens and young women, silk and lace enter the picture.  Females this age begin voluntarily wearing articles of clothing that could be used as torture devices in third world countries, lingerie that coincidentally could probably feed a family of four in those same regions.  Suddenly it matters if a bra matches a panty – are my male readers still with me here? – or, for the true fashionista, if the set matches their outfit.  For the love.

(Can you tell I’m not quite the girly-girl on this issue?  Sssshhh…don’t tell BrightSide.  I do the laundry around here anyway. Maybe he won’t notice.)

At some point every woman I’ve known (at least all the ones I’ve known well enough to talk to about this) has transitioned back to caring more about comfort than sophistication.  Honestly, you’d never catch a man wearing something that scratches, shifts, or pokes his ribcage for 16 hours a day.  Why on earth should we?  They’re called “special occasion undies” for a reason, ladies.

But I digress.

The thing that brought us to bras (brassieres, intimates, undergarments) today is Bear.  Specifically, watching her enter this new world and seeing through her eyes how often it seems completely insane.

We had about six transition months during which my fashion advice was limited to bra policing.  Bear would show up in a room where I was sitting, and I’d find myself in the (oh-so-delightful) position of discretely explaining to her why she needed to wear a bra with that particular shirt.  I’m sure she was confused…I mean, with some of her clothes it honestly didn’t matter so I wouldn’t say a thing, then suddenly I was all Go Put On A Bra!  (Just kidding.  I always approached it as helpful girl talk.)

But then we entered a whole new phase, one where size actually mattered.  (For my gent friends, it’s super easy at the beginning because they make these “training” bras that are so basic it’s ridiculous.)  I’m all about efficiency when it comes to the kids, so if I’m out and about and know they need something I like to just pick it up.  Except suddenly I couldn’t.  I knew Bear needed bras, but was she a 28?  30?  32?  Damned if I knew.  And we haven’t even begun to deal with cup size yet!

Okay, guys, how ya doin’?  Hanging in there?  Bet you didn’t visit today’s blog expecting to be schooled on all this girl stuff.  But on the plus side, I might be doing you a huge favor. Think of the bonus points you’d earn if you offer to take your daughter shopping the next time she needs new bras.  (That’s assuming your daughter isn’t mortified by the very thought of your presence in the lingerie department.)  If she’s old enough you could always linger nearby, credit card at the ready for when she’s finished.

I think perhaps the funniest part of this whole experience thus far has to be Bear’s foray into the world of strapless bras.  I bought her first one for the father/daughter dance last February – once again, I took a chance when I was out shopping and picked up the smallest size that store had.  Well, it turned out that size wasn’t quite small enough.

To this day I can tell when Bear has it on.  We’ll make it about 30 minutes into whatever event necessitated this particular undergarment and then, from the corner of my eye, I’ll see her sneak a hand toward her top half to rescue the runaway brassiere.  If only I didn’t know what this felt like…the sudden certainty that your bra is about to drop to your belly button can jolt even the coolest cucumber into action.

Yes, the whole bra thing is a rite of passage, a time to bond over womanhood, blah-blah-blah…but honestly, sometimes I want to tell her to just burn them all now.

We can bond over hot chocolate and cookies instead.