Boob Food Conversations With a Stranger


I am losing my edge. That carefully crafted evil glare and closed-off, leave-me-alone persona that keeps me from having to make small talk with perfect strangers and even some people who know me must be fading now that I am obviously pregnant and have a small, impossibly cute infant in tow. Why do I say this you ask? Well…

I was sitting in a local restaurant that serves hot dogs yesterday with the kiddo. T had stepped away to order our food and a person who worked there came over to clean the table. He started asking about V and how old she was. Then he asked when I was due. Turns out, he has a 6 month old and his friend has an 8 month old. We compared cursory kid notes. Yada Yada. Chitty chatty stuff. Nothing out of the ordinary until HE inquired if I planned to nurse.

I was a bit taken aback. Women will ask this question. Men usually squirm and run frantically from the subject of breastfeeding. I have never had a man bring it up voluntarily. Not even my husband who is nothing but supportive and understanding about the topic.

So I answered the guy. It isn’t a naughty or bad topic, just an unusual one. I told him I planned to. Then he asked me if I still nursed V (who is almost 14 months). I told him no, that I had stopped at 3 months which was shortly after I went back to work.

He then politely informed me that his wife wasn’t still nursing but his friend’s wife was. I replied, good for her. Way to go for both of them. Glad they managed to make it work. I mean really, what do you say? Especially to a man you have never met when talking about the utility of your breasts and the breasts of two women you have also never met. I rarely (actually never) have conversations about my breasts and what I do with them with people other than my immediate family, my lone avid reader, and my medical providers. I was wholly unprepared. I’m really not good at this small talk thing.

Eventually, Terry came back to the table with massive quantities of all beef, nitrite free hot dog goodness. This blessedly ended the conversation I was having with another man about my boobs and what I have done and intend to do with them. Fortunately, my husband is an understanding man and did not take offense.

Terry is of the opinion that the man and his wife were getting pressure from the friend. The guess is she is probably one of those (I have lovingly dubbed them) “boob food harpies” that rant about how you are a terrible, selfish mother that is irreparably damaging your child if you don’t breastfeed the little angel until they leave for college.

Terry thinks that the poor guy was just trying to gauge a random “normal” person for what they were doing to validate that he and his wife weren’t really terrible and selfish, harm inducing parents. (Which must mean I look both random and normal…and not easily offended to boot.) I think T might be on to something. I hope he is, otherwise that was just really really weird.

The funny thing about this was we had just had a conversation in the car about the La Leche League (THE crazy boob food harpies) gone wild in New Zealand. They yelled so loudly that an anti-smoking ad featuring a man cuddling and feeding his 6 month old daughter from a bottle had to be pulled. Apparently it was sending the wrong message. La Leche League’s view appears to be that fathers who feed and care for their babies while not smoking ARE EVIL and must be stopped! Stopped this minute!

I hope that what the hot dog guy took away from our strange conversation was that we all just do the best we can. Breastfeeding ain’t easy. And props to anyone who tries it. Your baby will get some benefit from it either way. Just caring enough to try counts for an awful lot, despite what Master Yoda and the boob food harpies say.

So now I have had an unsolicited conversation with a man I have never met about breastfeeding. Mark that one off list of things that weren’t on the bucket list. Wonder what people will say to me when I have two kiddos in tow? Life just gets more interesting by the minute.

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