Well golly. We took a walk down the street and discovered the bra store is gone. Lock, stock, and extra-large barrels. The Pencil Test has been a fixture for years now. It specializes in underwear for ladies with really big boobs, and maybe men too, if they’re not interested in minimizing. Although I think a good cone bra for large-breasted men would do a lot to take people’s attention away from their bellies.
First place you’d look for a big-boob store that’s gone missing would be the floor below, because that’s the natural progression of these things, but as far as I know there is no basement to the building. It’s sad. The place had a booming clientèle and a highly aggressive front window. I don’t care who you are, you’re going to look. There are bras of every color and every material and the mannequins—well, they were only busts—were outstanding. Pointed straight out to the street and it’s almost as if they followed you, like Mona Lisa’s eyes. I remember in the ‘70s when we saw our first mannequins with nipples. These mannequins had tattoos. Between that and the floral prints and lace and the sheer volume of it all, it was quite the show.
This was the proprietor’s second store. The first location was across the street. It was a bit problematic. Something made the windows fog up so badly it was hard to see the merchandise from the street. Don’t know if it was the weatherstripping or the spectators. So she jumped on the chance to get the new storefront in an old building with an old-school coffee shop on one side and a bar on the other. Really, whatever it was, if you couldn’t buy it on that block, you didn’t really need it.
You’d think the deck would be stacked against a specialized store like that, but she ran a steady business with lots of return customers.
So I don’t know if business was flat and sales were sagging or if there was a lack of support from the neighborhood. It always seemed busy to me. Holly, the woman who owned it, was a bra savant. She could look right at you, or a part of you, and tell you exactly what you needed, and that you needed it. As Oprah is fond of pointing up, we’re all wearing the wrong size bra, and Holly agreed. Holly had something for any circumstance. I, for instance, have a marked discrepancy between my cup occupants, and she had bras with pockets on the small side so you could stash a hamster in there and even things up.
I bought one myself at the Pencil Test’s first location. I thought I had things well in hand but she could tell, as soon as I walked in, that I was veering unacceptably close to uni-boob territory, and some sort of segregated containment system was called for. Whatever I had on was whatever I’d found most comfortable for me and provided the most support, but she swore up and down she could find something for me that was even more comfortable and looked good too. I guess it did. I wore it for a while and then it was in the wash and the old comfy uni-boob one came out and that was that. I don’t need to look good. I just don’t want to spook the horses.
And then of course I went online and found the spectacular seamless wireless bra made of fairy breath and butterfly feathers and sure it’s another uni-boob situation, but at this point corralling is the name of the game. If I don’t get everything all smashed together in the front I’m in danger of things sliding around and interfering with my back fat folds. It’s all too confusing.
So I’m not liable to need anything from The Pencil Test but I think it is a fine emporium for a specialized product and I was sorry to see it go. But wait! What’s this?
There’s a little handwritten sign on the door. See us in our new location! She’s in a brand-new store on MLK Blvd. She’s bouncing back!
Fabulous. And I should have known. These things never go away; they just change location.