Thursday, July 8, 2010

It Doesn't Really Feel Like Emasculation, But It Is Kind of Odd

I'm spending part of my evening tonight making a big bowl of fruit salad to take to the first of two baby showers that I'll be attending over the next three days. I haven't been to a baby shower ever in 38 years, but after joining two moms' play groups, BAM! Two in a row. For the first, the entire play group was invited, and I thought, "Oh, they don't really mean me. That would just be awkward." But then I was explicitly, specifically invited and encouraged to attend.

I even tossed the apple chunks in lemon juice to prevent browning.

I guess the second shower doesn't really count, because it's for BFF and his girlfriend, and it's being billed more as a celebration than a shower, with gifts not necessary, but still. It's a shower. My second in three days.

There are clear differences in how the moms' groups and the dads' groups operate. For instance, the moms show up in numbers, and the dads show up in ones or twos. The moms host play dates in their homes, and the dads stick to the playgrounds. The dads venture all over two counties, and the moms return to the neighborhood playgrounds again and again.

The biggest difference, though, and perhaps the most disconcerting? In a couple of years of dads' group play dates, breastfeeding has never come up. Not once has a bare breast suddenly appeared in the middle of a conversation. With the moms, it's happening with somewhat alarming frequency. I like to think of myself as a hip, modern man with no philosophical objections to breastfeeding in public, and I like to believe that there's nothing erotic about the use of the breast for the sustenance of children, but somehow, when I'm having a pleasant conversation with a woman and she suddenly pulls her top down, it's a little distracting. I think I'm playing it off okay, but it sends my brain into a little bit of a spin. Should I just not look at her, pretend to be fascinated by what Thumper's doing over there on the other side of the room, even though she's still talking, and talking to me? If I don't look, does that make it even more obvious that I'm discombobulated? Can I continue to ignore that one voice in the back of my head that's yelling, "It's a boob! It's bare! Look at it!" and still hold eye contact?

And am I glad, or maybe just a little bummed out, that I'm so non-threatening that these moms seem to give not a second thought to whipping it out in front of me?

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