Since I moved to Seattle, one thing is making me crazier by the day. I ride the bus, right? I have always ridden the bus, even in L.A. and Houston. But here, I have to go all the way to the back of the bus not to hear every bloody rider say "Good morning!" when they get on and "Thank you!" when they get off. I'm all for politeness and everything, but good God! Does the driver really give a flying fuck if not every rider expresses their deep gratitude to him for simply doing his job?
First of all, let me just say, thanks for riding the bus. Riding the bus, while not quite as virtuous as, say, riding a recumbent bicycle, is still a wonderful first step. You are obviously a somewhat conscientious person.
Now let me guess something else about you. You are a professional person, right? And you probably have a college education, though perhaps not a master's degree, like, for example, me. Now here's something you may not have thought about. Some people are not professionals and do not have a master's degree, or even a lesser degree such as yours. Some of these people may have jobs like driving a bus. It's important that professional people like you acknowledge the efforts of those less fortunate and more diverse than themselves. Does the driver sometimes appear like he may not give a "flying fuck" what we think? No matter—the important thing is that he or she receive our emotional patronage, whether he or she wants it or not.
I always try to be nice. Like with this guy from Atlanta who just moved to my neighborhood. Whenever I see him I always say "Hi," to make him feel welcome. He's seems nice, too, even if he's a little, well, "off." Like when he asks me to "stop in for a beer." Of course, it's not his fault that he doesn't know about all the activities that would prevent me from all of a sudden drinking a beer with someone who, after all, I barely know. These activities include checking my e-mail, looking to see if my Netflix requests have arrived, maintaining my compost pile, and meeting with my Howard Zinn reading group. I smile at him nicely and back away slowly. I'm sure he'll catch on in a few years.
Dear Uptight Seattleite,
I breastfed my 5-month-old daughter during the first three months, but I've been doing a mix of breast- and bottle-feeding since I went back to work. So there I was, sitting with a group of Seattle moms at Green Lake, when I pulled out her bottle, and a hush fell over the group. Then this mom with a preschooler hanging on her nipple asked if I was worried that my daughter and I wouldn't bond properly. How do I tell these Seattleite moms that my kid and I are bonded just fine and to stop being the Breast Police?
Dear Annoyed Mom,
I'm glad you asked. I'm actually rather qualified to answer, because I'm quite comfortable discussing women's bodies. In particular, their breasts. Their breasts and their nipples. I can say the word nipple out loud in public without a problem. Nipple, nipple, nipple. No big thing at all. I'm very informed about women's health issues and can discuss them in a progressive way, without discomfort. You could even call me Dr. Nipple. Hahahaha! I mean, you know, if you wanted to. Sorry, I didn't mean anything by that.
What was your question again? Oh yes. Breastfeeding. Feeding from your breasts, using your nipples. A natural, natural question. So you are breastfeeding and want some advice about your breasts? And your nipples? Like I said, I'm glad you asked.
First of all, you shouldn't beat yourself up. It's very natural for new mothers to feel overwhelmed. Heck, even I get a bit overwhelmed sometimes—even if I don't have breasts! Or nipples. Wait. I do. Not breasts, but nipples. Hahaha! Whee! OK, try to relax. You're in good hands here. I mean, haha, so to speak.
I bet if you asked some of those other mothers, they could give you some pointers about breasts. As I understand it, breastfeeding is always best and there is a single correct way of parenting. I'll bet there are some brochures they could give you about this. And anything else you wanted to know about breasts and nipples.
But I should mention in parting that your notion of an actual Breast Police is quite fanciful, and may reveal that your postpartum condition has perhaps rendered you slightly paranoid. Again, this is a natural reaction for new mothers, and you shouldn't beat yourself up over it.
Have a question for the Uptight Seattleite? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.