Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest I’ve had no shortage of exposure to open-air markets. Everything from the flying fish at the world renown Pike Place Market in Seattle, to the body odor and patchouli stank of the famous Saturday Market on Portland’s waterfront, and of course MY personal favorites- the local Farmers Markets. These local markets are popping up everywhere, and you can buy anything from fresh produce, locally made wines, handmade soaps, organic dog treats, fresh cheeses, baked goods, and whole assortment of arts & crafts. I am a big proponent of eating local and keeping revenue in one’s own community. Ahhhh the sense of community, a sentiment that can consume me at times, especially on these crisp mornings at the market as I feel the weight of an over-complicated world sloughing off my shoulders. Oh and don’t even get me started on the never-ending free samples for my insatiable appetite and stretched out stomach. If I’m walking back with my tummy full, my puppy tired, and my reusable shopping bags crammed with purchases- it has definitely been a successful morning (and my inner-hippie beams with pride).
There is something primitive, grounding and energizing about an early morning stroll through a local market, and it has become almost a sacred ritual for me. This is true for me in the States, but also abroad as well. Greece is no exception, and I’ve quickly grown quite fond of the weekend market near the old harbor in Chania. One difference I’ve noted is the pace. Things are not as relaxed as the markets back home. In fact, it is one of the rare occasions you see native Greeks moving fast at all. Greeks don’t seem to do anything with a sense of urgency (maybe their laziness contributes to the low crime rate??). Perhaps their view of the market is unlike ours. For them, the markets are a competitive way of life, with much on the line- not just a trendy, self-righteous attempt to embrace sustainable living and to be environmentally friendly.
This weekend I entered the market from a different entrance than normal. Typically I enter to a dizzying array of fruits, vegetables, flowers, cheeses, wines, honey, olives, fresh fish, and the like. However, from this entry point, I encountered textiles, clothes, dishes, and undergarments being sold like they were straight from the farmer’s field. I chuckled as I watched the women pick through the tables, and hold the bras and panties against themselves trying to decide if the size was right. Quickly, I cringed as I flashed back to my early years of bra shopping, when I would just grab bras I liked in the size I deemed would be the best fit. As my thoughts rolled forward, later into my teen years, I recall my grandmother taking me bra shopping at Nordstrom. Here the floodgates of ta-ta support were opened before me!
It was in the Nordstrom’s Intimate Apparel department where I learned that there was a correct way one should be measured. Now, I don’t think anyone actually enjoys being “fitted” for a bra, as it is rather embarrassing. You stand there, bare chested, while a stranger sizes you up (no pun intended). You awkwardly ask yourself, “Umm, should I lift my head, square my shoulders, arch my back and proudly push my girls out in a pose… hold out a tip jar maybe, while trying to convince myself I’m only doing this to ‘pay for college.’ Or do I look down sheepishly, slouch my shoulders and pray to God this ends as quickly as possible without an accidental nipple graze?” Thank heavens the middle-aged woman at Nordstrom was more of a mother-type, and didn’t make the experience any more traumatic than necessary.
Until this weekend, I was convinced that it was Victoria’s Secret who held the gold medal in the “Worst Place for a Bra Fitting” category. Sure, you are drawn to the Pink VS stores because of the trendy lines, variety, and oh-my… the body products! (Yes, please!!) Unfortunately, once inside you are usually forced to deal with the inept sales staff who are less interested in fitting someone correctly, than they are in who they are meeting for happy hour after their shift, or what they are going to buy with their employee discount (yeah, snatch, I know your boobs went from an “A” to a “D” when you strapped on that three inch memory foam this morning –who are you trying to kid?). I once had a VS employee suggest I buy a different size because they were out of the size I needed! I shudder, knowing that if Ms. Nordstrom would have gotten wind of VS’s suggestion, her life might have prematurely ended in a measuring-tape-hanging-accident.
So here I am, standing in an explosion of bras in a humid Greek outdoor market, when I notice who is selling these wares. The man sitting behind the tables is dripping sweat, hairier than Sasquatch, and just happens to be wearing dirty pants and a wife-beater tank. It is more than I can bear. I immediately promise myself I’ll become a braless, unshaven, patchouli-drenched hippie before I ever let a man whose breast are bigger than mine sell me such sacred vestments. I knew I’d miss comforts of home, and those who know me can imagine how much I miss Nordy’s, but never in a million years would I have guessed I would find myself longing for the incompetent college drop outs at VS… and their misleading memory foam.
Here are a few more iPhone photos from the market