‘I’d just like to say that most of us begin life suckling on a breast. If we’re lucky we end life suckling on a breast. So anybody who’s against breasts is against life itself’. – Denny Crane
I can’t remember what I was doing exactly… but I was suddenly very aware that I was lacking that something very specific that needed my urgent and undivided attention. A friends of mines wife, sitting across from me, had just whipped out her boob and there was this awkward (for me at least) ten second period where the boob just hung there, exposed, while she fussed with her infant and then maybe another five seconds to get it latched.
I think it was the unexpectedness of it all that took me by surprise. And so… unsure of the protocol that should be followed in this particular situation I forced myself to carry on looking straight ahead, listening intently to what she was saying and ignoring the ginormous mammary gland in my heads-up-display… all while on the inside the hamster mind was falling off its wheel and having a massive foaming apoplexy.
Apparently being exposed (in certain contexts) to a hunk of meat with a nipple on it for ten seconds is enough time to cycle through quite a range of emotions. From feeling lecherous to invoking puritan sensibilities that I didn’t know I had. And everything in between.
Once the baby was on the nipple I relaxed (unclenched my jaw) and stood my brain down from red-alert. Of course I berated myself severely post event for my lack of inner-cool. Outwardly I did okay… I think.
I’m a huge fan of breast feeding. And I often rage about the sexualization of nudity. But forty years of conditioning is hard to break. Especially when it blindsides you. That… and I felt like I was breaking this unspoken commandment that you should never find yourself staring at your friends wife’s unmentionables. (at least not in a public setting)
Of course I have no idea why an errant nipple should wield the power that it does or why it can provoke us in such strange ways. I mean it shouldn’t, and it makes no sense to me. Yet, here is the undeniable evidence.