I plunked myself down at the indoor picnic bench to eat my bland hot-turkey sandwich when I finally noticed "them" all around me. By "them" I mean the silver haired, veteran-hat sporting, support hose wearing 70 something crowd. I was in the Costco food court around lunch time on a Wednesday afternoon and the place was swarming with elderly men- (Note to self: If you're ever missing grandpa or in need of a Korean war story, Costco during the work week is the place to go).
As I watched them I noticed one striking similarity. All of these old men- fat, skinny, tall, short- were eating the same thing- the 1/4lb all beef hotdog. Some were slathered in ketchup, some in onions and sauerkraut, some were dipping their dogs in big glops of mustard. All of these elderly men, though, looked to be thoroughgoing satisfied with their decision to devour their chosen lunch. I looked down at my pathetic flavorless sandwich and I immediately had buyer's remorse. All those old men, all those hotdogs, all that satisfaction- I was jealous I hadn't made the same choice. It got me to thinking, though...
I studied these old men...what they were wearing, their actions and mannerisms and it dawned on me that there is not much difference between a woman in late pregnancy and a man in his later years. Bear with me now- if you've ever been pregnant, you'll believe me by the time I'm through.
Picture a typical old man. Run of the mill old dude. Now, picture a typical 9month pregnant woman. Run of the mill pregnant chick. Notice anything strikingly similar already. You guessed it. Both are bulging in the middle. You don't see too many super skinny old men and you don't see too many super skinny pregnant ladies, either. Thick in the middle is a good way to describe both parties. The only difference is, he earned his gut from years of beer drinking and hotdog eating, while her's comes from, well...we all know where hers comes from.
There were quite a few older gentlemen at the Costco food court who were wearing elastic wasted shorts. The elastic waste band is not only a staple in the pregnant woman's wardrobe, it is a necessity in much the same was it is a necessity in the old man's attire, also. Easy, and quick access. When you're pregnant and you've got to go, there is no time for messing with buttons and zippers- and I guess the same thing can be said for men who are 70 and older.
Back to the belly talk- at 9months pregnant, none of my maternity shirts seem to fully cover my expanding baby bump. There is always a sliver of skin showing underneath my shirt due to the fact that it is just no longer long enough to conceal what's beneath it. I noticed this is very common in the elderly male population, too. Grandpa often shows some unintentional midriff skin. Both "sneak peaks" usually involve swollen, hairy bellies, too. The ironic thing is, despite the general public being subjected to the "big belly peep show" most old men and most pregnant women alike are just too damn tired to give a damn! I like the old man's "if you don't like it, then stop lookin' at it" attitude and I've noticed that at 9 months pregnant I feel the same way!
Then there's the food issue. Quite obviously some of the elderly male crowd at the food court had probably been advised by their physicians to refrain from eating high sodium foods like hotdogs. Let's face it, though, the average stubborn old man just doesn't care. He's at Costco and he's going to eat a 1/4 all beef, juicy hotdog if he so pleases, damnit. By 9months pregnant, most women have the same attitude. You're worn out, in pain and in a constant state of desperation for birth and relief and really, you just don't really care anymore how many calories you're taking in or if the meal you're craving will cause your feet to swell up later or not. Both the elderly man and the pregnant woman eat what they want to eat and they just don't sweat the small stuff anymore.
Slip on shoes are always in style if you're an old man, and as a pregnant woman, they're a fashion statement for sure. Support hose are known to be found in both Grandpa's closet and the on the tree-trunks..er...legs of a woman who is 9months along. For both parties, bathroom breaks are unplanned and immediately urgent when they happen.
I've noticed in my time that old men can 'cut the cheese' anywhere, everywhere and whenever they sit, stand or bend over. In my time as a pregnant woman I've experienced the same thing myself and quite frankly, I sympathize with Grandpa. Once that muscle control is gone, it's hard to ever get it back again and it's no wonder they seem unfazed by it when it happens- it happens so frequently and so uncontrollably that you just stop caring that it happens at all.
Old men grunt and creak and exhale heavily as they sit down- so do pregnant women. Old men aren't sure if they can stand up again after they have sat down- neither are pregnant women. Old men randomly fall asleep in chairs in public places and snore loudly- go to any shopping mall the country and I guarantee you you'll see a large pregnant woman passed out in a sitting area alongside an old man, unknowingly competing for the "Who Can Snore the Loudest" title. (Okay, so maybe it's just me who has done this...but I'm telling you, you will see some poor old man camped out in a chair at the mall, snoozing away while his wife tries on "pocketbooks" at "Penny's).
Griping about an aching back or sore knee is second nature to an old man and it's on a looping play list of topics a pregnant woman talks about in her 9th month. If the pregnant woman has been through labor before then both the old man and the pregnant woman love to ramble on about their "war stories" to anyone who'll listen.
Really, the similarities are profound and surprising. It makes me wonder if it's God's way of making a man experience, even in the most subtle ways, what it's like to be a pregnant woman. Kind of like His little joke on the male population. Women get to do all the work during pregnancy, but as men age, they experiences little nuances of it, also, in their own special way.
I can tell you this much- my Costco food court revelation has given me a little more respect for all the Grandpas out there. I know what they're dealing with day-in and day-out... the physical discomfort, the dietary restrictions and the "The World Owes Me..." attitude that they (and I, at 9 months pregnant) sometimes adopt. Next time you run into a particularly grumpy old gruff of a man, just smile and think to yourself "Man, he's pretty far along...it must be getting difficult." Trust me... the further along you get, the harder it becomes!
'Til next time, folks!