THE BIG READ: Where did you get that bra?
The guy who is now the official boyfriend told me he'd like to take me shopping for lingerie last weekend.
I declined, which was probably a mistake, because the next thing you know he is sending me a picture of the fishing rod he has just bought for me and speaking enthusiastically about trout fishing.
I have never in my life fished and I do not relish either slamming a fish's head against a rock or releasing it after tearing up its mouth.
There is nothing wrong with my lingerie, by the way. I just prefer shopping for it alone. I don't mind spending a lot of money on it, either. This winter I passed the $100 bra mark, which I swore I would never do. It reminded me of what they say about killing a man. The first time you do it you're nervous and you have to psyche yourself up, but after that it's easy.
Still, the boyfriend's shopping invitation got me thinking that maybe I should get something special for the next time he visits - that stuff you see in Victoria's Secret ads on women with masses of hair and a partly open mouth, whose expressions suggest that they exist in a parallel universe in which all they do is get ready for sex.
"Hey, Victoria, want to go to a movie?"
"I can't, I'm getting ready for sex.
"Whaddya think, should I pose in the door with my mouth partly open, or crawl into the room on my hands and knees with my mouth partly open? I don't want to seem too obvious."
"You could get into bed in something silky and pretend to be absorbed in a book."
"What's a book?"
But there was a problem here. What, as a 65-year-old woman, could I get that would be hot and not farcical? My template for hot middle-aged sexuality, imprinted on my brain when I was in college, is Anne Bancroft as Mrs Robinson in The Graduate, but she was only 36 when that movie came out. I'm not sure her leopard-print bra is my look.
But I do want something a little wild, so I trot off to an extravagant, high-end store in my neighbourhood.
Their window displays are so outrageous, I usually stop and laugh.
The last thing I remember was sheer black panties with a wide hot-pink ribbon that tied at the back, which suggested one would have to back into the room to make the appropriate impact, then use a hand mirror to see how it had gone over.
I walk in and find that I'm feeling a little self-conscious and don't know exactly what to say.
"I have a new boyfriend," I said.
But this, in a lingerie shop, turns out to be the very best thing you can say - the equivalent of a trader walking into a Porsche showroom and saying he has just got his bonus.
The saleswoman, who has a jolly, accepting attitude that suggests that, if I were dating a horse, she would find something suitable (fishnet jodhpurs from the look of some of the items in this store) is off and running.
Would I like a beautiful black bra and panties, teamed up with a lace garter belt? A black lace jumpsuit? Bustier? There are some beautiful retro slips of the sort I've noticed 60ish English actresses favour for sex scenes, but I have a few of those.
But there is one big problem, which I have encountered before at other lingerie stores: a lot of the prettiest bras and camisoles and bustiers are too small or designed for a premenopausal body, as if women of a certain age no longer have a fantasy life.
I spend so much time in fantasy land I've thought of building a house there and I'm always up for perking things up with a few surprises.
A few years ago, the guy I was seeing told me he was reserving a hotel bridal suite for a weekend. I made a quick visit to a thrift shop and, as a gag, walked into the sitting room in satin high heels and a floor-length wedding veil. A floor-length veil, ladies, is a boudoir item I cannot recommend highly enough. There is no body it does not fit and you will have an excellent time, once you both stop laughing.
I continue the lingerie search and go uptown to a department store.
Once again a lot of the prettiest bras and panties do not go up to my size. I take a dozen items into the fitting room and a dozen out. They include lace underwear that, I realise only when I put it on, has a small round key-hole in the back. It is not a look I want at 65.
Neither is a bustier that comes to my waist, the equivalent of a yellow traffic light pointing to your belly. There may be postmenopausal women my age who are entirely fat free here, but in my experience they require medical treatment.
I go home and google "sexy lingerie", then "sexy lingerie older women". I have two things to say about this: America is rich in its abundance of crotchless underwear, and if you are 70 and regret never having been a porn star it is not too late to realise your dream.
I also realise that I don't want to buy anything I can't first try on. I return to my neighbourhood shop.
"I've decided to broaden my horizons," I say.
The saleswoman takes me back to the racks, so to speak, and I notice some items I missed the first time: a latex bra and panties ("But wouldn't you sweat?" I ask). Feathered handcuffs (No). Black leather pasties with tiny yellow ribbons for $103 (No). A pair of lace panties cut so high a 19-year-old ballerina wouldn't risk them ("Too cheeky?" the saleswoman asks).
I do like the saleswoman's attitude. There might be bra manufacturers who have decided older women have no interest in playful lingerie, but she is not one of them.
I know when I am beat. Then inspiration strikes. I realise that there is something that fits any woman's body perfectly.
"You have any press-on tattoos?" I ask.
Where they're going I'm not saying - let's just say I'm going to be saving a lot of trout.
- ©2013 New York Times News Service.
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