MAD DOG: Advancements in Bra Science

They say if you build a better bra the world will beat a path to your door. Okay, maybe half the world will. The guys? They'll beat a path to your door if you build a bigger bra. And need it. Hey, nobody ever accused men of being subtle. Or deep.

But women have to deal with bras all the time, so it's a big day for them when a real technological advance is made. Face it, most of the time it's just "more support" here and "better lift" there, but this is the computer age. If we can put men on the moon, send email from a little village in Indonesia, and grow apples with no taste that never go bad, why can't we do something to help women's upper bodies?

Luckily I'm not the only who's been thinking about this. Scientists in Australia (motto: "We're not just Men at Work anymore") have created the Smart Bra. Don't go confusing this with the Wonder Bra, the undergarment which swept the fashion world a few years ago but was little more than an easy-to-use variation on the beauty pageant masking tape trick. You know, 20th century falsies. It caused quite a sensation. Women's spirits were lifted along with their breasts, men filed deceptive advertising suits left and right, and Dad's everywhere had full sock drawers for a change.

But this is different. Researchers at the University of Wollongong ("It doesn't mean a thing, we just like saying Wollongong") have devised a bra which is coated with an "intelligent" polymer that stiffens when it's under strain so the straps and cups adjust depending on how you move. I don't know how intelligent this polymer really is, but if it gets to caress women's breasts all day I'm sure a lot of men will consider it a very lucky polymer. While the Smart Bra sounds like a wonderful invention, something tells me it could feel a little creepy, much like cruise control on cars. Think about it: do you really want your undergarments to have a life of their own?

If this is successful I'm sure they'll expand the line to include Smart Socks, Smart T-shirts, and Smart Drawers for men, though the last one could be a very bad idea. Face it, the last thing a guy needs is something massaging his privates all day. Like we don't do that enough as it is. On the plus side it would free Michael Jackson to spend more time singing and dancing. It would also mean he wouldn't need to keep those young friends of his around. On the other hand, Smart Drawers would force baseball players to find another activity so they can stretch a half-hour game into the requisite three hours so the TV networks can sell plenty of advertising and Americans can get lots of naps.

Even without intelligent polymers, bras already have one of the most incredible inventions ever created: the gender-sensitive fastener. Can you name another closure which women can use that men can't? Zippers, shoelaces, Velcro, buttons--we can all handle them. But bra hooks? I can fumble with one for hours, all the time feeling like a complete dolt and the Anti-Casanova. Then, if she's stuck around through all that, the woman will reach behind her back with one hand, smile knowingly, and flip it open in a millisecond without having to look. Women are truly wonderful creatures.

Another amazing thing women can do is take a bra off without removing their shirt. I find this endlessly fascinating, not just because it's efficient, or that they do it without taking their eyes off the TV, or that they do it completely oblivious to the fact that they're defying the laws of physics, mathematics, and common sense. No, I think it's incredible for one simple reason: I can't do it. Hell, I can't even get one off with the lights on and an instruction video running. Assuming I get the opportunity, that is.

Some of my awe may be because I've never been good at puzzles. I can spend hours waiting for my food in the International House of Bisquick and still not get more than six pegs off the triangular wooden board, which according to their chart puts me on par with a catatonic sea slug. I can take that wooden cube apart into twenty pieces, then stare at them until George W. Bush understands one of Dennis Miller's esoteric references, but I'll still never be able to make the cube whole again. Speaking of cubes, remember Rubik's Cube? I was good for three minutes at tops. I hated it. No one ever believed me when I said I thought the things looked better multi-colored. So is it any wonder that to me taking a bra off while leaving a shirt on is the real Möbius strip?

My only fear is that some scientist will get it in his or her head that the Smart Bra just isn't quite smart enough. I'd hate to think that the day will come when a mother can program her daughter's bra so it won't open for me at that opportune time. But mother's needn't worry about that. Not as long as they keep using those fasteners on bras, anyway.

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