For those of you who follow such things, the federal budget contained an intention to legislate an end to the price gap between goods sold in the US and Canada. It’s about time! In this day and age I find it ridiculous to find an online price that’s 30% higher on Canadian websites compared with the same item, from the same corporation, in the US. If this goes through, however, it will be the end of an era.
When I was growing up, the thing to do was cross border shop. I clearly recall driving down to Montana, or sometimes even Washington, to buy back to school clothes. Things were significantly cheaper in the US at that time, and the dollar was about par, and so even with travel costs it was a better deal to shop “across the line”. Not only that but the US was home to many stores and brands that were just not available in Canada. My husband recalls trips down to Washington in the 1970s when he would happily partake in A&W Root Beer, which was not sold in Canada, even though there were A&W restaurants. For me, the item that was shrouded in mystery was the Twinkie.
Twinkies and Hostess Cupcakes were not sold in Canada when I was a kid, but I knew all about them from Saturday morning cartoons and advertisements in Archie comics. They looked amazing and delicious and I clearly recall the first time my mother bought them, on a shopping trip to the States. The anticipation! The excitement! The…anticlimatic feeling when I bit into it and it was just a weird spongy thing with weird cream on the inside. How disappointing. The cupcakes, I thought, were better on account that they had a nice chocolate coating on them, but the Day of the Twinkie Reckoning was the day I realized that not everything lives up to your dreams. When the world never seems to be living up to your dreams, it’s time you started finding out what everything is all about.
A pivotal moment in my life.
The Great Twinkie Incident Of My Childhood did not, however, cure me of coveting exotic items not for sale in Canada, specifically those found in a little chain you might have heard of: Victoria’s Secret. Four years ago, when I finally decided I was ready to travel with the children, we flew to Palm Desert to visit my snowbird parents.
That trip, my mother and I ditched the kids with my dad and husband, and went shopping. We went to Victoria’s Secret which was everything I had dreamed of, and more. The selection of bras! The gigantic comfortable change rooms complete with disposable panties and t-shirts to test out the bras! The businesslike salesgirls walking around in their black clothing with tape measures around their necks! Prior to this I had always done my bra fitting at the Bay, with older Eastern European women sharply admonishing the fit of my current bras. You are vearing ze vrong bra! Look at zis! Zis is terrible. Terrible fit. You need different. But these girls were gentle and sweet and very earnest in their suggestions. Maybe the Dream Angel? I don’t THINK you’d like the Bombshell.
The best part about that shopping trip, other than all the underwear I brought home, was that it was actually Valentine’s Day when my mom and I were shopping. Have you ever been to Victoria’s Secret on Valentine’s Day? It’s pretty entertaining. There were literally dozens of men, some of them wandering around wide eyed, some standing motionless and overwhelmed in the middle of the store, but most of them lined up to purchase gift cards. Those men were no fools. There are too many (literal) booby traps in buying lingerie as a gift. There are just too many ways that can go badly; gift cards are probably the safest way to go.
So I was happy to cross-border shop for sexy and good-fitting bras and panties, until the magical happened – a store opened up in my city! It opened to huge fanfare but I still didn’t visit it very often, because it was in location very inconvenient to me. But then! To much less fanfare and women walking around with angel wings, a store opened up NOT FIVE MINUTES AWAY FROM ME. Hurray! I received a coupon in the mail for $10 off a bra and off I went.
It was the same great shopping experience, with the same earnest salesgirls. When I got to the counter with my Dream Angel, the cashier asked if I would like the free Valentine’s Day thong panty. I’m not made of stone, OF COURSE I wanted the free Valentine’s Day thong panty. I chose hot pink, as being something exotic and unusual for me, and the girl started to wrap it in tissue. Wait, I said, What size is that? The girl smiled at me kindly and said the thongs were one size fits all. The bees are doing what now? A one size fits all THONG PANTY?
Since then I’ve found out that Hanky Panky - home to, apparently, the world’s most comfortable thong – also sells their thongs as a one size fits all, and I have to say, I cannot wrap my head around this phenomenon. How is it possible? What kind of miracle fabric is this? I can understand how a caftan at Sears can be one size fits all – “fitting” not being synonymous with “looking the same” – but a thong panty? I just cannot understand. I need the physics explained to me.
And yet I got home and tried on the one size fits all thong, and it was the most comfortable pair of underwear I have ever worn. My mind is blown. There are a lot of things I do understand: advanced calculus, visual basic coding, economics, but this is the most mind-bending concept of them all. One size fits all thong underwear. It feels like NASA had a part in it.