We all know what senior moments are, particularly those of us who regularly experience them. Dude moments are a completely separate thing, but occasionally a 58-year-old male such as myself, gets to experience the confluence of both.
I was doing some food shopping at my local Publix. I’m sure that my regular readers are girding their loins as Publix has been the site of a disturbing number of antics and incidents over the years. I can assure you, however, that this shopping trip was as mundane as it gets. I had completed my first pass and was mapping out in my mind a map of the things that I had forgotten. You might wonder why I do not make a list and in fact I regularly do. It was sitting on the counter at home near where I keep my wallet and car keys just like 100% of all of my shopping trips (senior moment).
I suddenly remembered that I needed to get compactor bags. This was a particular coup as it didn’t even make the list that I had left at home. I made a mental note of the vividness of the revelation as I am normally just slightly past the halfway point between Publix and home before remembering that last item. Pleased with myself, I began walking the sixty feet or so toward the plastic bag aisle.
After about two steps, I noticed a young woman walking toward me pushing a cart. She appeared to be at least 5’ 11” (dude moment). As many of you know from previous essays herein, I have a particular fetish for tall women. She had a toddler, maybe 2 and ½ in the cart and a baby strapped in some sort of reverse backpack on her chest. Still, it was worth a furtive glance as we passed four steps later.
In a mild surprise, it turned out that she was breastfeeding the baby in the carrier as she pushed her cart ahead. I am not one of these prudes that is offended by a woman breastfeeding in public (dude moment). There is also no truth to the rumor that I once gave a breastfeeding baby a wink and told him, “Enjoy it while you can, sport, but don’t forget to save some for your Uncle Bobby!” On the other hand, I’ve never witnessed a woman breastfeeding while doing anything else, least of all, food shopping with two kids.
The entire episode lasted less than twenty seconds, but I suddenly found myself stopped in the middle of the front of the store. I could not remember what product I was on my way to pick up. This wasn’t just any senior moment. This was the granddaddy of them all. I knew that only thirty seconds earlier, I had had the clearest of revelations…and now it was gone. But it wasn’t just gone. It was as though my mind had been wiped clean. I knew I was in Publix, but that was about it. After about three minutes of just standing there, I actually laughed out loud at the absurdity of it all.
I finally started going through some of my standard memory techniques. Retracing my steps was out. That’s the direction the breastfeeder went. I certainly don’t want to come across as creepy. Eventually, I had to walk down each aisle looking at each item until I figured it out. When I finally figured it out, I found that Publix stopped selling compacter bags. Now things were getting back to normal.
This was all filed away in my head as a typical absurdity until the next day when I attended a meeting of my writers group, The Parkland Writers Café. I hadn’t intended to share any of this, but my friend Paul read an essay to the group about a documentary he had recently seen about a group of World War II era female entertainers that still tap danced today. He was impressed by their spirit and perseverance at their advanced age, but I also noticed how he described how much their look appealed to him. It wasn’t the typical, “Those ladies were surprisingly fit and trim for being in their nineties”. This was a lot closer to the, “Yo, mama, you look fine” comment that a much younger man might say. Paul is ninety-five and I was quite pleased to find that even at that advanced age, a dude can still enjoy a dude moment.
Since Paul had broached the theme of Dudeism, I decided to share my story. This is where it really got weird. I was sitting between Paul and Larry, another World War II veteran in his mid-nineties. As I told the story, they were both nodding their heads in a kind of, “Yeah, that’s what I’m talkin’ about”, way. I figured that eventually the testosterone fever would pass with age, but Larry and Paul clearly still had it. What I didn’t expect was the reaction of the women.
There were seven of them ranging from about their sixties up to Sora who is ninety-seven. All of them were disgusted by the thought of any woman breastfeeding uncovered in public, let alone in a supermarket. They all told of elaborate covers and systems of decorum from their upbringings in different countries and economic strata. In an interesting side story, Miriam mentioned that where she grew up, women would breastfeed overtly anywhere and would also lift up their skirts to pee even while in the middle of conversation. While I was wondering whether she grew up in Bedrock, she informed the group that it was in a shtetl in Russia during the early days of communism.
In any case, it was a fun, lively and informative discussion. I cannot wait to share this with my sociologist daughter who continually insists to me that dude moments are not biological, rather are the result of learned behavior. With Paul and Larry still having them after nearly a century, I still have my money on biology. The best news is that I have many more years to look forward to of adventurous food shopping experiences.