Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cursing, Nude Folks, and Plumber's Butt: A List of Things We Don't Want While We Eat Soup

A few years back I went to the movies. I'm a sucker for any of those happy ending sports flicks, so I was pretty excited to be seeing "The Rookie" with Dennis Quaid. Not actually with Dennis Quaid, I'm not sure what he was doing that day, he doesn't return my calls anymore, so I saw the movie with my wife and my parents. "The Rookie" is a Disney film, so its a family friendly and free of all the profanity and potentially uncomfortable subject matter that make it a perfect
show for a grown man to see with his parents.

I hate watching movies with my parents that have F-bombs dropped at a ridiculously frantic pace or where for no plot moving reason, people sashay to and fro with uncovered body parts flippin' and flappin' all about. The only thing worse is gratuitous love scenes that just won't
seem to end flashing by on the TV while seated on the couch between Mom and Pop, all three of us staring straight forward, any conversation muted, a deafening awkward silence ringing in the room. Usually, I have no problem with this kind of stuff being thrown into a movie, but when I'm watching with my parents the heebies and the jeebies pop out with extreme force.

"The Rookie" was a great choice, because all that discomfort and awkwardness is avoided when good ole Uncle Walt has his name on the flick. I went a screwed that up though. Somehow, before the previews, the conversation between the four of us turned to Oscar contenders. My mom mentioned her favorite of the year, a movie that I absolutely did not get, "Moulin Rouge." She listed her reasons why it was the best picture of the year, and I countered with a list of my
own. She loved that they used old pop songs, I thought it was a cop out for writing your own music. She loved the "original" story, I claimed the idea was better a few years back when another Oscar winner featured an almost identical plot. In fact, I went so far as to say, very loudly, very VERY loudly, that "Moulin Rouge" was simply "Shakespeare in Love" with dancin' whores.

I found my statement quite amusing, as did my dad who nearly spit his Diet Coke across the theater. My mom and wife, however, violently hushed me, telling me to watch my language. Sure, we were there to see a Disney movie, but it was the ten pm show. There were only a
handful of people in there and no kids. "Why?" I asked, "There aren't any kids around. I didn't say anything offensive."

In the row behind us, a buttoned up gentleman and his prim and proper wife, probably in their mid forties, looked shocked and upset when I inquired, "Dancin' whores? What's wrong with saying dancin' whores? Who's going to be offended by me saying dancin' whores?"

Never in a million years would I have thought "dancin' whores" would bother people. In fact, I figured those around me would steal my Moulin/Shakespeare comparison and be chatting about dancin' whores at the water cooler the next day, stealing my idea and claiming at as their own. Surely no one would be insulted by my language. Well, I found someone who was put out by the concept of dancin' whores, the guy sitting behind us. He let me know. "Actually, I'm quite
offended. I would prefer not to hear words like that if that's okay with you."

For the first time in my life, I was shut up. I thought for a second about arguing with the guy, but while my brain was trying to formulate a snappy comeback for Mr. Conservative, I realized that he was right. Just as I had the right to free speech, he had the right to be offended by what I said. In fact, I began to think, he should have the right to go out and not hear or see things that bother him. Sure, he was being a wee bit overboard, I was making a joke, not graphically
describing sexual situations, but still he'd chosen to go to a Disney movie and spend a nice night with the Missus. He did not choose to listen to some idiot trying to be funny by repeatedly shouting the word whore. (Although I still contest that the phrase "dancin' whores" is hilarious).

I apologized.

I've found myself in the reverse situation a few times as well, only back then I didn't think about my rights, the right to not be put in avoidable situations that make me uncomfortable.

In my old profession, I was sent out on business trips every so often. Usually there'd be three or four sales people, like me, and a sales manager. Most of the time we'd buddy up on hotel rooms. That's no big deal, even sharing a bed for a few nights never really bugged me. What really got my goat was the boss and his shower habits.

Mark was the big cheese, the head honcho, there was no talking to Mr. Honcho or convincing him that his idea wasn't the best one. What the boss said, went, and almost 100% of the time, that was okay, because Mark was a business savant. He was almost always right.

The one thing about Mark that really got under my skin on these trips was his demands that he be the last to shower in the morning. So far, not so bad, but the real problem reared its ugly head (yes, literally) when Mark got out of the shower and insisted on holding a morning sales meeting right there in the hotel room, while he drip dried.

You see, Mark had something against one of man's greatest achievements, the towel. He preferred to dry naturally, by letting it all hang out and having the air around him evaporate the water on his skin. He claimed it made him baby soft and invited me on more than one occasion to check out his claim. I politely declined each time.

He'd pace back and forth, free as a bird, and spout our sales statistics, targets, and goals, while the rest of us sat uncomfortably on the beds trying to focus on his eyes or hair or the lovely Days Inn artwork, anything that wasn't his dangling wang. Now Mark was not an unattractive man, and I'm sure there are folks out there who'd love to get a peep show, but I was not among them. I was very uncomfortable, as were most of my co-workers, but no one was going to say anything to the bossman. Eventually, I had to quit.

These situations, or similar ones, seem to be popping into our society more and more frequently. Modesty-impaired teenage girls strutting around with their goods hanging out. Foul mouthed folks loudly spewing their talk for everyone to hear. Cell phoneites blabbing on and on about things not everyone would choose to hear about. Fat construction workers with butt crack issues. All of these are things that most of us would choose not to have to deal with if we'd been
asked our opinions. However, none of those are the hot topic of the week, that seat of honor is reserved for nursing mothers feeding their babies in public.

The other day, I attended a football party with a bunch of friends and their wives. In the group were several moms, one of them still nursing her eight month old son. For most of the afternoon the guys huddled around the TV and the women stayed way over on the other side of the room talking and playing cards. Most of them were uninterested in football. Sarah is not a sports fan at all, she didn't watch a single minute of the games, however, when her little son gave his "Hey
Mom, I'm kinda hungry" cry, she leapt to her feet to take care of his needs. Very commendable.

The party was in a very large finished basement. The women and all the kids were gathered at the back of the room around a gaming table. Nearby there was a guest bedroom, an office, and a very nice, clean bathroom, all of them with locking doors. Sarah chose instead to step over a few of the men, push her way over to the couch, and squeeze herself in between two guys who were, up until them, totally wrapped up in the football. She took the decorative blanket off the back of
the couch, covered herself up, and fed her son.

Let me start on the right foot, I don't want to offend anyone or their beliefs, I simply want mine to be understood and respected. Breastfeeding is a wonderful, marvelous, fantastic, beautiful, natural thing. In fact, my own son was breast fed. Nursing your baby is good for the kid, for the mom, and for society in general. In no way do I oppose breastfeeding. I understand that when a kid's got to eat, the kid's got to eat, and I'd much rather his mom feed him than torture the poor thing and make him continue screaming. Feeding babies is a wonderful idea, in fact, when I run for king. "Feed Babies" is going to be one of my campaign slogans; along with "Let's All Kick Paris Hilton" and "Hey, Maybe We Should Do Something About Bad Stuff That Happens." Bottom line: hungry babies = bad. Satisfied, well nourished, bonded with their mommies babies = YAY!!!

That said, I do have an issue with moms breastfeeding out in the open. It makes me uncomfortable. Sure, it's natural, and maybe my discomfort is the result of some deep seeded psychological issues that reside in dark parts of my brain, but that doesn't matter. I'm
uncomfortable around it and that probably won't change. Please don't tell me to get over it, I can't. Respect that.

I know babies don't run on a perfect schedule. I know you can't run your entire life around junior's feeding time. Every once in a while, the little one is gonna want his meal while mom's shopping or dining out or having social hour with her friends. That can't be helped. What can be helped is where and how Mom chooses to get junior his supper. There aren't many situations where Mom won't have options. Sarah, at the football bash, had several options, and yet she decided to move into everyone's view and make a production out of the act. She could have discreetly moved to another room, but instead she shoved her butt in between two unassuming guys and made an entire room of men very uncomfortable. Why would she do that?

The guy to her right was lucky, he turned a little and stared at the TV. His gaze never deviated on fraction. He waved off any attempts to include him in the conversation, just staring straight ahead. It was very obvious that he didn't want to be there, that he wished a portal to another time and place would suck him up and plop him down on a breastfeeding free sofa.

The guy on her left, not so lucky. He would have had to look her direction to keep watching the game, so he very awkwardly turned to his left and flipped through a People magazine, fighting the urge to look back at the TV every time the group cheered a big play. He was upset that he had to read Miley Cyrus cradle robbing updates instead of watching the big game, and he was incredibly uncomfortable, made that way by someone who could have easily chosen not to. The rest of the room was equally anxious, not daring to glance that way. Most conversation halted and the entire tone of the party was changed. And it's not just a guy thing, some of the women in the room later expressed that they were ill-at-ease as well.

No one would have had a problem is Sarah had excused herself to the guest bedroom, the office, or even the bathroom. Actually, I don't think anyone would have even noticed what was going on if she'd stayed back at the poker table. Why didn't she? What is so wrong with asking a woman to discreetly remove themselves from the room? Of course there are situations when that's just not possible, like an airplane, so that's an exception. However, if you're at the mall, go
back to the car or one of them family rooms that keep popping up all over. If you're at someone's home, excuse yourself to another room. If you're in a restaurant, use the restroom (they're relatively clean, very private, and no on is asking you to make your baby lick breast milk off the toilet, so don't claim the sanitation thing), or, if the restroom is objectionable to you, discreetly cover yourself and take care of baby business at the table - they key concept there being discretion, something Sarah seems to lack.

Americans are prudish, blame the Quakers and the TV sensors that didn't like Elvis' Ed Sullivan Show hip gyrating, that's just the way our society is. Is it a flaw or a fault? Maybe. Is it something that people need to learn to deal with? Maybe. But that isn't going to happen over night. That isn't going to change in an instant. Some people are going to be frazzled in situations like that. Don't ask them to get over it. Respect them, respect their wishes, respect their right to be comfortable. Nursing your baby is a beautiful thing, but find some privacy; some people would prefer not to witness the act, just like some people don't like dancin' whores or sales
manager's dangling wangs. Please, respect that.

2 comments:

Deb said...

Dancing with whores/dancing with wolves - what's the problem? I thought it was pretty funny!

As for the breast feeding...well...I was the only on the whole maternity ward who didn't. Just couldn't get the image of leeches out of my head.

AngieSS said...

First of all, LMAO. I think I hocked up a lung thinking about you having to try not to watch your boss's dingly-dangly air dry, while still trying to concentrate on what he had to say. HAHAHAHAHA

Second, I totally agree with the breast feeding. I mean, wtf?!!

This was a great post. I think we could all benefit from learning the importance of not sacrificing someone else's comfort, when ensuring our own.