Cute Bra Right?

That depends on what you expect. Ask any woman about bra shopping, and she’ll likely possess at least one tale of improbable fit, pokey underwires, itchy lace, and ill-fitting cups, not to mention a few harsh words for the designers. But, before we plunge too deeply into that rabbit hole, you’ll need some background.

Before the 2016 American presidential election, which catapulted the real world headlong into an alternate-reality caricature of itself, Stick Chick had a gripe about American trade with China and was pleased to hear candidates talk about renegotiating deals.

Could we talk about quality control of important products?

For humanitarian reasons, Stick Chick makes a practice of avoiding purchase of products made or assembled in China despite their lower price tags. This remains a great challenge because of the temptation to shop on the cheap.

Similarly, she avoids shopping at Wal-Mart [which she calls Wally World; see Vacation the movie] in protest of its policies which help to keep its low-wage workers poor and its endless supply of Chinese-made products. But, despite her best efforts, her options are often narrowed or wholly unavailable.

She noticed this challenge when she shopped for a fabric shower curtain. Stick Chick scoured online and in department stores until, after three months of searching, she had to admit defeat. She could not find a single shower curtain anywhere that was not made in China. In a fit of defiant indignation, she opted to keep the old one until it falls off its rings.

Failed-Inspection-Tags

Her reasons for avoiding purchases of Chinese made items are admittedly not entirely altruistic; Stick Chick also takes issue with the lack of quality control.

Case in point: a recent online bra-shopping experience

The low price should have been a tip-off, but the reviews (which in retrospect had to be faked) glowed. No mention of the bras’ country of origin appeared. The photos that showed off the delicate feminine features and the variety of colors made them attractive. Reviews supported the idea that products were true to size.

After checking the size chart and reviews, Stick Chick ordered her “usual” size in two colors: pink and light blue.

Puzzling to the point of comical, the supposed pink one could be better described as “soft peach” (which was not even an option.) But it was not so unattractive as to dissuade her from keeping it. Likewise, the light blue could better be described as “smoky seafoam green.” Again, not what she expected but pretty too.

The surprise she discovered, about which there was no mention in the product description, was the extenders included in the package with each bra. Bonus.

Had the extenders matched the bras, it might have been more so. The soft peach bra included a neon pink extender. The smoky seafoam green had an added electric medium-blue one.

Chinese Bra IMG_2862

Stick Chick imagined the factory offloaded overstock extenders to gain favor for sending freebies. That, or they’d unknowingly hired either a colorblind employee or one with zero fashion sense.

Stick Chick tried the bras on for size and determining they fit fine without using extensions, laundered them. The rub came after the first wash. Both bras shrunk so much that they no longer fit. Not even close. No way, no how.

Realizing the true purpose of the included extenders, she thought they should have come with this notice:

“We know they don’t match, but hold on to them. You’re gonna need them.”

Judge the lack of QC for yourself and make a mental note of this the next time your government wants to arrange a trade deal with China for something slightly more important like, say, I don’t know, scaffolding or airplane parts.

Can we just make sure it includes a clause about quality control?

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Future Plans to Join a Hippie Commune

A recent viral story about the sarcastic comments which accompany a senior high school student’s yearbook photo incited a flashback reminiscent of Stick Chick’s own yearbook quote.

Before we go there, it’s worth illustrating how dramatically things have changed in the nearly four decades since. Though there are companies that still produce class rings, it’s safe to say they’ve become passé. For a variety of reasons, students no longer clamor for those expensive mementos.

Stick Chick’s high school…true story…offered two other options in addition to the class rings that she coveted but could ill afford. One of these included the annual high school yearbook. It was the other that offered a more affordable and dare-she-say practical option.

Seniors could choose to purchase a cream-colored, 16-ounce ceramic beer mug with the high school’s official green emblem trimmed in genuine 14-karat gold. For an added fee he or she could have writing, presumably a name, etched on the mug in gold.

Perhaps it was the heat of June in the 50s era buildings which lacked air conditioning or that her particular class was collectively a lot of miscreants who they were pleased to finally be rid of, but Stick Chick never understood how the student government managed to slide beer mugs for teenagers past the faculty advisors and administration. She recalls with great delight that a classmate named Bridget ordered hers which read, “Bird Shit” and got away with it. Stick Chick purchased a mug devoid of customization, filled it once at the senior graduation party, quickly realized its potential and has kept pennies in it since.

Ah, but we’ve digressed from the tale of the yearbook quote.

Feeling trapped as caged animals, Stick Chick and a friend fantasized about the places they’d travel and the things they’d do when they were finally free from the confines of high school and the small town in which they lived. For fun, the two would challenge each other, attempting to out create one another with fictional, fantastical scenarios whereby they would once escape. They wrote notes and kept journals of their plans, some sad, others brave and still others so silly to them that they’d find themselves doubled over with laughter in fit of tears, wheezing and gasping for air. So it was obvious, after one particular fit of giggles that they’d plan to “dye their hair pink, move to California and join a hippie commune.”

The creation made for one of those inside jokes that only friends understand. When graduation approached and the papers for senior yearbook quotes were distributed, it seemed obvious to Stick Chick what she would write when she read the lead:

FUTURE PLANS: ________________________________________________________

Every now and again, chance meetings with high school acquaintances would begin with the comment, “Oh, I thought you moved to California. I must have been mistaken.”

To which Stick Chick would reply, “I wonder where you got that idea.”

 

Tea Room Memories

Like Polaroid snapshots dropped one by one on a table, new memories replace the former. The static, scratchy broadcast of a cheap FM radio which sits high on a shelf behind the ice cream counter adds to the evening din; made worse by the surrounding mountain peaks that bounce the signal. The weak antenna draws intermittent snips, broken pieces of Bennie and the Jets and Love me Like a Rock, but even then, only if the weather is clear and still.

The slam of a screen door and footfalls on the wooden floor in the stagnant summer air evoke visions of a Tea Room where no one drinks tea. A single oscillating fan aided by two ineffective paddle fans force air movement. Vacationers gather to eat sundaes, play checkers or assemble puzzles together.

The adults tap bragging rights, sharing the year’s accomplishments of their children. “Bradley got straight A’s again this year. He won the spelling bee, he’s captain of the championship baseball team, still sings in the choir at church, and since he’s going into sixth grade this year, he’s a shoo-in for the lead in the winter play.  How’s Gregory doing?”

In hushed tones they share gossip. “Did you hear about how that Nick got Susan Wilson—preg.”

“Shush. His mother is coming in just now.”

Occasional titters punctuated with sudden blasts of uncontrolled laughter suggest shared off-color jokes. “Maybe you kids ought to go play shuffleboard for a while.”

The children finish their sundaes and rush outside to the shed beside the courts to turn on the lights and reach through cobwebs for poles and discs, vying for red sticking the opponent with dull black. The buzzing white lights draw swarms of gnats that dip and sway occasionally bombarding eyes of the competitors.

Later, gentle commands float on the humidity from the edges of the yard beside the Tea Room. “Fifteen more minutes. Last game! Remember to put the poles and discs back in the shed.”

Then, “Turn off the lights now. Grab your flashlights. Let’s go.”

Together they plod along the path that leads into the mountain dark back to the cabin.

 

Stick Chick was right about the Monday thing and the Brainiacs

It’s the season once again when Loverboy finds himself incensed and dismayed, the result of the neighboring property owner’s choice to rely upon a questionable landscaping company hired to maintain the adjacent greenery.

As you may recall, Stick Chick has observed that Loverboy has a thing (read: “twisted thing”) about the lawn. The day after so much as a drop of rain falls, a neurosis compels him to get out there and mow the grass before it becomes uncontrollable (read: “visible.”) But, that’s okay. Most years nature strikes a balance between days of rain and sun, so their lawn tends toward the enviable.

In seasons past, at 7:00 AM each Monday morning, the lawn maintenance team (whom we’ll hereinafter refer to as ACME Contracting) would show up with their staff of three, a zero turn mower and two weed whackers to commence blasting across the 1,600 SF of macadam parking lot/dumpster station, shaded picnic nook (read: “place where kids hide from their parents to smoke”), dog business spot and lawn. Apparently on a strict schedule, if they missed the usual Monday, well, bummer (read: “foiled again.”)

During the winter, to his credit, the neighbor erected stylized apartments to replace the former historic (read: leaning, crumbing and long-neglected) buildings that once claimed the space. These featured early 1900s era outbuildings including a commercial storage barn, sheds and a farmhouse that had, probably in the 1950s, been converted into apartments and rented garages. Until their demolition, no visible updates appeared save for a celebratory piece of oriented strand board nailed haphazardly covering a hole in the sagging roof (read: or to protect against probable Y2K fallout) —she was never sure which.

The new construction included hand placed sod lawn surrounding the buildings and parking lot, and a modest attempt at shrubbery and mulch along the street facing façade. Sadly, it appeared that lawn maintenance for the summer season would be postponed likely a result of pinching of construction pennies in the final days. But the balance of scorching sunny days and trickles of rain interspersed one another with just enough nourishment to keep the dying sod alive.

Stick Chick Lawnmower

This year when spring arrived, Loverboy and Stick Chick (lacking the talent of a drummer playing Wipeout) waited with hopeful anticipation for the neighboring lawn maintenance team to arrive. Despite evidence to the contrary, Stick Chick said, “I’m sure they’ll do a better job this year,” when Loverboy gruxed about the inconsiderate and shoddy nature of the neighbor’s attempt at upkeep.

This Monday morning, on schedule at 7:00 AM in the pouring rain, Stick Chick stifled both a laugh and gasp of amazement to see that the Brainiacs had indeed sent a replacement “crew” of one with an aging push mower that sent clumps of sod flying through blades set a full two inches higher than Loverboy’s preferred blade height setting. Stick Chick recommends that the new landscape company (read: “sod butcher”) consider a name that seems par for the course: Take It Off my Rent Thanks.

Good help is hard to find.