Sunday, November 15, 2009

Get Your Prude On

Recently in my small town, a very radical and titillating event took place. Breast cancer awareness month was publicly recognized for probably the first time here. I was excited to hear about the comedy show fundraiser but more interested about the public display. Several months before October, a small ad appeared in our local want ads: "Support breast cancer awareness, send your bras to (insert address here)." Intrigued, I sent off a couple of bras I didn't wear for comfort reasons and actually forgot about the whole thing for a while. The next I heard was that the bras were going to be displayed during the month of October, where and how I was not quite sure. Finally, on a bright and sunny day in early October, all was revealed. As I went about my daily business (I believe I was headed to work) and drove down one of the two main drags in town (Broadway), my eye was caught by a cherry picker parked in front of the Eagle drug store, two men on the roof and a woman directing the operation from the ground. Even more eye-catching were the streamers cascading from the roof to just above street level of this three story edifice. At first glance, these multicolored wonders looked like streamers, but closer inspection revealed their true composition. Here were the bras! Collected over the course of months and carefully attached to one another, the bras stretched from one end to the other of the building, from roof to the tops of the display windows. A glorious, lacy, multicolored bonanza of female undergarments basking in the late fall sunshine. I had to go home and get the camera.

It was not long after this impressive display of female solidarity was assembled that the hue and cry began. The first letter to the editor called for the immediate removal of this "disgusting and pornographic" display and behooved law enforcement to arrest Shirley, the breast cancer surviving organizer, for public indecency. Another asserted that she could no longer drive downtown with her children as they asked too many uncomfortable questions about the reason behind the bras hanging from the building. Happily, the haters were outnumbered by about five to one by those who thought this was a wonderful, fun and interesting way to bring attention to a disease that affects darn near everyone. One of the unenlightened wrote "what's next, jock straps?" Why, a fine idea, if testicular cancer gets it's own month, I say let's do it! I had to wonder how these people managed to shop at WalMart or Target. It's kind of hard to avoid the unmentionables completely. Do these same people not go to the lake? I'm assuming their children never see the laundry basket, the naughty bits must be carefully removed before their innocence is ripped heartlessly from them by the sight of a bra or pair of panties. (I digress, why do we speak of a bra as a single item but panties are referred to in the plural?) This display was not full of bras filled by falsies, not a single boobie was to be seen, but the mere presence of pieces of clothing we all wear (the girls for sure, anyway) was enough to send some of these people into a torch-and-pitchfork, kill-the-beast, off-with-their-heads type of frenzy. Congratulations Shirley, you DEFINITELY got people talking! I doubt Crookston has ever been more aware of breast cancer than this year. What are you going to do for the next one? Whatever it is, sign me up!