TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — The Breast Of Times

It’s been a couple of interesting weeks when it comes to what women can and can’t do in North Dakota.

In Wahpeton, there’s a communitywide debate about the Oasis Bar’s request to permit lap dancing. Meanwhile, at Chick-fil-A in Fargo, a woman was kicked out for breastfeeding her baby.

Let’s start there. This is a place that makes a living selling chicken breasts, some of which are not even discretely covered by buns. They sell chicken strips, too, which, frankly, is a slippery slope that will inevitably lead to chicken strippers. The next thing you know, they’ll be doing lap dances.

The point is at Chick-fil-A chickens have more rights than chicks. For the life of me, I can’t figure out if it’s liberalism or conservatism that has gone too far here.

The woman and her child (an accessory to the crime) argued breastfeeding in public is legal in North Dakota. The language of a 2009 statute reads, “If the woman acts in a discreet and modest manner, a woman may breastfeed her child in any location …” Well, that’s clear as mud. The restaurant owner apparently interpreted “discreet and modest” to mean you must use one of those portable ice shacks and maybe wear a burka.

One argument is Chick-fil-A, as a privately owned restaurant, has every right to refuse service for any reason. Kinda like Woolworth’s did back in 1960, when it banned topless black women. If this societal decay continues, eventually you’ll have to sell gay people cake.

In Wahpeton, it’s legal for women to display their breasts at the Oasis, but a lot of people think that’s a slippery slope, too. Exotic dancing is a well-known gateway drug to shagging porn stars. Presumably, lap dances fall somewhere in between.

I’ve never had a lap dance, but I’ve just added it to my bucket list. I’m willing to give it a go, unless it involves tap shoes or a River Dance. If that’s the case, I’d rather be smacked on the bottom with a copy of Forbes magazine.

I’ve long been a student of breastology. When I lived in Hettinger, N.D., we discussed the curious duality of breasts on the local radio station, KNDC. If you were a stripper, it was the Evil Breast. If you were feeding an infant, it was the Good Breast — at least until Chick-fil-A threw a wrench into that argument.

The show was called “BS in the AM,” for the triumvirate of Bender, Tom Secrest and Al McIntyre, the host and provocateur. Although that day, Ginger Arndorfer was the substitute host.

A neighboring town was in an uproar about a bar wanting to bring in strippers. I observed that you’d have to pay a cover charge to be offended. A flustered Ginger tried to change the subject, but Tom and I gleefully clung to the issue like a dog to a pork chop, or a baby to a nipple.

By the time the show was over, Ginger was red-faced and steaming and ratings were up. When we walked out of the studio, her husband was waiting for us in the lobby. He’d raced in chivalrously from the ranch, where he had been bench-pressing heifers, to defend her honor.

As Sir Arndorfer glowered down on me, Secrest stealthily put on his coat and hat and tip-toed out. Tom has never been noted for his feats of valor.

“You’re not going anywhere until you apologize to my wife,” the brave knight spake.

“Well, you’re going to be waiting a long time,” I said.

Because my mouth is tougher than the rest of me.

The next week, I was in “Apology Corner,” a long-running segment of the program, during which we were supposed to make amends for the things we’d said the week before. We had a sponsor and everything.

I said I was sorry women faced so much discrimination. A guy can walk around shirtless and a woman can’t? It doesn’t seem right. I mean, man-boobs are a thing.

For the record, the Chick-fil-A franchisee has apologized, too.

For an advanced country, we’re pretty uptight. And some North Dakotans are even uptighter. Cohabitation outside of marriage has only been legal here for 11 years and, even then, only as long as you keep your breasts in their holsters.

Maybe we should loosen up, like the Europeans. They’re naked all the time. Well, not the doughy, pasty-skinned British, but they should think about it. It would distract attention from their teeth.

© Tony Bender, 2018

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