Free the Breast

Victoria A. Lorrekovich

After months of colic-filled evenings, sleepless nights, near-toxic diaper changes, and sore nipples, my baby daughter and I need a break from our monotonous routines. I am tired of smelling like spit-up and she is weary of listening to taped babbling brooks and crickets chirping from the CD player. We need to feel the rays of the sun on our faces and to see and smell actual bougainvillea and narcissus. Our plastic floral arrangements just aren't the same; in fact, they are in need of a good dusting.

We leave our socialistic city by the bay and head for the suburbs. A change of scenery would do us some good.

We enter an outdoor cafe and feel as though we've wandered through C. S. Lewis's closet from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It's like a Hollywood set. Beautiful wrought-iron and glass tables decorate the tiled patio. Colorful umbrellas shade the patrons from the day-star's powerful gaze. The air is scented with roses and daffodils. We are presented with a pitcher of water; slices of lemon, lime, and orange swim gracefully in their crystal pool. I order the baked cod with onions and mint. As I'm nursing, I'll probably be punished later for the onions, but I am caught up in the moment and order it anyway. I toy with the idea of asking for a glass of chardonnay, but think that might be pushing it a bit. I order, instead, a glass of herbal iced tea. The stresses of new motherhood begin to float away.

My daughter, oblivious to my bliss, shrieks. It's time for her to eat. I lift my milk-scented shirt and free her means of sustenance. She greedily gulps what I alone can make for her. I settle back into my chair, breathing in the heady aroma of Johnson's Baby Shampoo. Nothing can mar this perfect moment. Or so I think.

At a nearby table, two dowagers with highly coifed hair and matching strings of pearls shoot daggers at me from their eyes. I ignore them. Perhaps I am misinterpreting their facial expressions, I think. Maybe face-lifts have stretched their skins so tight that they wear masks of permanent disapproval. But alas, I realize this is not the case when one whispers to me that customers are trying to eat in peace. "Well, so are we," I counter. The other, far more bold, says that my vulgar display is inappropriate and orders me to the ladies room. "Men are nearby, for goodness' sake," she scolds. I try to remember where I am. At a Jerry Falwell convention in Texas? No, I'm here in a Bay Area restaurant in the good ol' U. S. of A., where liberty is more than just a word.

I can feel heat rising to my face. "I'm nursing my daughter. If you're not comfortable, it is you who should leave." I'm trying hard to keep a series of four-letter words from leaping out of my mouth.

"You are fouling our atmosphere," she fumes.

I ignore her as I start to eat my lunch. I let my daughter use me as a human pacifier, just to piss off the old spinsters. I can feel their vermin eyes burrowing into the back of my head as I eat the overcooked fish. The onions are starting a civil war in my intestinal tract. I pay my bill and stand, a little shaky on my feet. I make eye contact with the two rat-faced matrons and let judgment pour out and engulf them. I then leave and vow never to return.

Later, as I mentally revisit the situation, I close my eyes and picture myself as the PC Wonder Woman in league with La Leche, fighting to protect motherhood and our children's right to eat in public places.

Time travels backward. I stand to face the harsh old biddy who ordered me to the lavatory. I morph into a lactating Wonder Woman, rise, ripping off my shirt, exposing my bare breast in my unsnapped nursing bra. I grab the matron's pearl necklace as if it were a collar, each pearl resembling a perfect drop of milk. I pull her toward me. She stands with fury in her eyes and something else, fear perhaps.

I whisper into her ear: I am an agent of Mother Nature, a freedom fighter for all that is feminine." She looks at me as though I'm a raving maniac. I continue, "Don't you worry, I shall challenge their wet-dream images of the breast. I will rebel against the patriarchal chains that bind." My voice rises with feverish pitch. "They will not make prisoners of my child and me." I climb on top of the table, unfasten my milk-soaked brassiere and toss it into crowd. "Free the breast, free the breast," I chant.

Others join me. The paved patio begins to vibrate beneath our feet as our indignation reaches beyond our circle of militant dissidents. Others from neighboring streets join our rally. The small-minded matron moves closer to her friend, wondering if she'll make it out alive. Of course, we are peaceful reformers; we do not wish her harm; however, she must repent her shameful ways. The day is declared "Breast Independence Day," so as to remind others in the future of our fight for the freedom to nurse our young anywhere. New laws are enacted, protecting mothers and babies everywhere.

As my daughter and I are carried away on the shoulders of our comrades, I think I may even go back to that war-torn restaurant and celebrate the place of our victory, while my daughter drinks from my breast-the milk of freedom.

© Victoria Lorrekovich

Victoria Lorrekovich is a freelance writer in the California Bay Area. She writes fiction and nonfiction for adults and children. She is currently at work on a novella for adults, Beware of Men with Little Mustaches: A Modern Day Fairy Tale and a book for children, Tawfiki.

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