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Guest Column | Virgil’s Lament

The Right Formula. . .

While breastfeeding may not seem the right choice for every parent, it is the best choice for every baby.
— Amy Spangler

I dropped-in on Virgil the other day. He and his mythically old dog, Hector, were “mesh bagging” the juvenile tomatoes in Virgil’s garden which had survived last week’s relentless winds. For some reason
Hector found this process fascinating. Long ago, when I was young, lady gardeners used their old nylon stockings to do this. It protected the tomatoes and supported them if you tied the bag up just right. See, tomatoes will do OK out here in the Mojave desert but they need a bit of extra help and protection.

“They also need protection from all the desert varmints that sneak in here for midnight snacks”, Virgil said, glancing down at a sheepish Hector. “Some local dogs that I may know aren’t all that dutiful about patrolling the garden against night-raiding rabbits and lizards!”

I offered that Hector’s imposing presence does discourage roaming coyotes from bothering the chickens though.

Skip Gorman
Skip Gorman

“True, that!” Virgil affirmed. “No local coyote of any size will go up against Hector here again. We have both witnessed how fierce Hector can get in his Full Protection mode”. Virgil was referring to an unforgettable episode out here one evening long ago involving four hungry aggressive coyotes and one unintimidated self-assured physically robust Hector. I’ll share the hair-raising details of that occasion later. I’ll never forget it. In the meantime, Virgil asked me a question which caught me off balance.

“When you were a newborn, did your mother breastfeed you or did she use a formula?” Virgil asked (out of the blue). I looked at the group of tomatoes Virgil happened to be tying-up and then looked over at Hector who was doing the dog-equivalent of an innocent shrug.

“I don’t exactly remember”, I said. “but I reckon they didn’t have formula way back when I was an infant. My mother probably breastfed me like most all women did back then. After that, I lived on table scraps and dog food the way God intended. And she also probably washed a load of diapers too, as disposables like Pampers didn’t exist way back then either”.

“Well, good for you”, Virgil said, a bit sarcastically. “That technique of feeding newborns seems altogether natural to me and has been time-tested among humans and other mammals of all persuasions since prehistory
and before. This sudden noisy fuss about a supply-chain interruption of baby formula got me to thinking about it.”

“See, the breast milk of a healthy and properly fed new mother is by far better for the baby than any darned powdered soy bean and corn syrup formula cranked-out by the ton in Sri Lanka, or some such place, and marketed by the same rascals that also make COVID vaccination juice. I understand that today’s modern woman probably finds the prospect of breast feeding for 3 or 4 months woefully inconvenient but the other 1,750 inconveniences of being a new mother no-doubt push that annoyance down the list some.”

“It’s too bad about the store shelves being bare of baby formula lately but I predict that many years from now a whole generation of formula-free (and consequently healthier!) future millennials will call Mom in the middle of the night to thank her for being inconvenienced on their behalf. You can take my word on that!” Virgil concluded with a manly flourish.

“Virgil, pipe down!” I warned him. “That insufferable Karen just down wind is liable to catch your drift. Today’s modern formula-buying working mother would angrily resent any of your wrong-gender, old-geezer, opinions as they relate to her lactating liberation and come after you with a noisy vengeance.”

“I’ll take-on all comers,” Virgil said, defiantly. “A few might be worthy exceptions, I’ll grant that. But the others will have to get-by Hector here to get to me and that’s when things will no doubt become altogether existential.”

“Say . . . Where IS Hector, anyway?”

Skip Gorman