Bra Money


As an adolescent, there was one thing my mother did above all others in public that made me wish I could blink her invisible.

She used her ample bra as a purse.

It wasn’t so much the insertion of bills as it was the dig-like removal when she paid for purchases. There was an oddly casual yet vigorous element about it that invited both looks away and looks toward. Needless to say, the super tacky nature of the behavior coupled with my overactive imagination probably led me to believe it happened more than it did. But whether it was once or one hundred times, it seemed crazy at the time.

The bra-money excavations embarrassed me more than the food stamps she sometimes handed off to me in a withering checkout line before she ran off to get that one-last thing.

My greatest fear was that a classmate would spot her and spread it around the school. Her Mom dug into her bra and pulled out money to pay for groceries. Yeah, really, her bra.

For reasons I still do not fully understand, Mom didn’t carry a purse or drive.

She was a child of the Great Depression. Banks couldn’t be trusted and money was stuffed into mattresses and sewn into clothes. So, when I read about such things in History class, I may have generously filed her weird ways under Things People Do Who Were Born during the Depression.

Also, I learned that a firm side-eye could get her to transfer the money to a pocket.

All women embody some ridiculous aspect of their mothers at some point. You never know when or what, so when I found myself slipping a twenty into my jogging bra one day to pick up produce from the farmer’s market on the way back, I had to laugh.

Big, deep belly laugh.

Too, I am sort of giggly when my bra purse comes in handy traveling and helps me appear less touristy, and again on the rare occasions I use it at home to pay for snacks and meals, entertainment, parking, and cab fare.

Into my extra pocket, I have also tucked lipstick, ID and gym locker key.

Unlike my mother, no bills under $20 and no blatant digging in public. Extractions take place in the ladies room or by pretend-dropping something under the table and retrieving the dough. There’s nothing strippery or seductive about it as I quickly snatch, press and exchange for goods or services. Still, after a few decades of not getting caught, a friend snuck up on me, and she had questions.

Is this why you don’t carry purses all the time? Yup.

What if your money is sweaty? I don’t sweat much there.

What if it’s crumpled? (Eye roll) Have you studied the mangled bills you get back in change?

What if it falls out and you lose it? That’s never happened. It’s all in the tuck. Practice.

It would take me a couple of days to fully explain why I find bra-money appealing beyond practicality and being free to travel lighter, but if it didn’t also provide some level of amusement, I would probably stop doing it.

4 thoughts on “Bra Money

  1. I love how you can create an entire movie scene from such a simple act. You have a gift. Thanks for sharing this hilarious story! My grandma was the same way; I gladly accepted all of those warm, soft bills from her bosom.

  2. Thank you, Kelley! Some things leave such an indelible impression, right? Mom’s gone now, but still thinking about these times makes me chuckle. Bet it’s the same for you when you remember your grandma because they were on some “different stuff.” LOL.

  3. The fact that you have a dollar limit for bra money just gives me life lol. Isn’t it funny how we adopt parts of our parents that we swore against? How much things change as we get older…

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