Jenny – a twentysomething friend of mine – would like you to know that even though she was a Girl Guide until the grand old age of 18, she’s as cool as they come.
She really is. Great girl.
And this is the story of what happened one summer when she was 14: a story with such potent levels of AWKWARD, she’s been able to dine out on it ever since.
Girl Guide Jenny and her Girl Guide pals were on a Girl Guide holiday in the good old US of A.
It was one of those classic teenage activity holidays where each day there’s a different activity in which – invariably – someone nearly dies.
Today was Jenny’s turn to dice with death. She just didn’t know it yet.
This particular day the activity was horse riding, but Jenny was not the type who’d had pony posters adorn her pre-teen walls back in Blighty. She thought horses were scary, beady eyed and not to be trusted.
But Girl Guides don’t let a little thing like FEAR stop them taking on the world (and its horses).
So she told the instructor that she’d ride, so long as she could have a nice, quiet horse. Perhaps the kind of docile horse that liked to crochet. A horse that just couldn’t say no to an Ally McBeal boxset (this was the early noughties) and a cup of tea.
“Sure, sure” said the horse trainer, pointing at an absolute equine MONSTER in the stables, “….this is Bruno – he’s a little sweetheart!”
Nothing whatsoever about Bruno was “little”.
Jenny’s friends had all been paired up with dainty, photogenic horses.
Horses that looked like they part-time modelled for perfume ads
Bruno, on the other hand, looked like he never missed arm day at the gym. And had a personality his horse mum referred to as “very special”.
He gave her a look like “gurrrrl…we’re gonna have FUN!”
Jenny immediately regretted her decision, but mounted the huge brute Bruno – with the help of an enormous footstool – because she was a Girl Guide. So, PERSEVERANCE.
Let’s just stop and remind ourselves of the GG motto:
I promise that I will do my best
To be true to myself and develop my beliefs
To serve the Queen and my community
To help other people and
To keep the Girl Guide Law
That’s the kind of motto that makes you feel like you have to get on the biggest, scary-ass horse in the stable…else you might disappoint THE QUEEN.
It’d been raining that morning and the trail was sludgy and squelchy with mud. As the others trotted on delicately on their delicate animals, Bruno’s ginormous hooves sank into each swampy puddle, sending Jenny launching from side to side in terror.
All at once a particularly deep puddle saw Bruno’s front legs sink suddenly and Jenny lurch forward, uncontrollably, into the air.
She squished her eyes tightly shut and waited for the impact of her body on the ground.
But it never came.
It never came because on her descent Jenny had been caught on Bruno’s saddle by her bra.
AND NOW SHE WAS DANGLING HELPLESSLY A FEW FEET OFF THE GROUND.
Her t-shirt was torn straight down the middle like she was Puff Daddy’s plus one, circa 2000.
Our Jenny was now sporting a Jenny from the Block plunge-cut
So there she was: attached to Bruno only by her bra as her feet dangled in mid air. The instructor dismounted and came running over, but Jenny was unable to wiggle free. Try as she might, she was completely wedged to the saddle.
There was nothing for it but rip her bra off completely.
Eventually she managed – with a force not unlike when a person is superhumanly able to lift a car to release those trapped underneath – to tear her bra clean in two at the front.
As it pinged apart, Jenny was flung backwards into a muddy puddle, her modesty a distant memory.
“Let’s get back on that horse!” the instructor chimed, as the other nosy GGs on their gee-gees trotted back and started to congregate around poor, topless, lying-in-mud Jenny.
Covering herself with the fragments of torn t-shirt she had left, Jenny hobbled back to the dorms, her distrust of horses stronger than ever.
When the excitable Girl Guide leader – Brown Owl/Pink Panther/Maroon Octopus or whatever she was called – heard about the incident she was evangelical about Jenny’s near-death experience.
“That bra saved your LIFE, dear! Aren’t you just so GRATEFUL?! What brand was it?!”
So a little bird – a Brown Owl – sent word to Gap HQ that Jenny had been saved from certain death (or just a broken arm…we can’t be sure what might have happened) by her “Gap Body” bra.
Instead of being able to put the whole terrifying, boob-flashing, muddy humiliation behind her, Gap insisted that Jenny and the whole troupe of Girl Guides come for a tour round one of their flagship US stores.
On arrival they were served boob-shaped cookies decorated with icing bras. Jenny didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
And Bruno? Well, he’s still available for birthdays, bat mitvahs and weddings… but just make sure you wear your sturdiest underwear.