I was watching Gus audition for a play this morning. I was standing near the back of a darkened room, when a man offered me a chair. I didn’t particularly feel like sitting, and if I’d known why he’d offered the chair, I definitely wouldn’t have felt like sitting, but I sat anyway, to be polite.
“How far along are you?” he asked.
I heard the question but I didn’t understand it.
“How far along are you?”
“I’m not pregnant.”
“You’re NOT?!” he said, astonished.
“Sorry. (Long pause.) Foot in mouth.”
I told him no sweat, don’t worry about it, and I smiled, stood and followed Gus out to rehearse his next batch of lines.
And then, for the remainder of the audition, do you know what I did?
You should know. Because I think it speaks volumes about my personality—and maybe about being a woman in general—that for the remainder of that audition, my son’s audition on which I should have been focused, I racked my brain for the words I should have said—or better yet, could still say to make this poor guy feel better about making me feel bad.
I test drove one-liners in my head. Silent quips slamming my own posture, my prior pregnancies, and my poor taste in dresses. The unforgiving nature of high waists and jersey knits.
Silly ME, forgive me. Let me take this awkwardness off your hands so you can slip into something a little more comfortable.
This is what I do.
Given the opportunity, I would apologize myself right out of existence to make you feel better about who you are.
Whoever you are.
As it so happens, I actually know the how-far-along guy by name. I know his wife and his daughter, and many of his friends, and I know him to be a kind man who just genuinely thought, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I was pregnant.
This is not about him.
Or whether he should or should not have said what he said, though I personally tend to wait until there’s a tiny face blinking bewilderedly out of someone’s vagina, before I hazard that kind of guess.
But that’s me. I tend to be careful. Tiptoeingly, apologetically, soul-cringingly, I-hope-you-didn’t-think-I-was-saying-or-would-ever-imply-that-you-should-be … Careful.
The plain truth is that I don’t spring my ass out of bed at five o’clock every morning and run six miles to achieve that PREGNANT GLOW.
You know what? That was a lie.
Because it's springtime. And in the springtime I don’t spring my ass out of bed and run six miles every morning.
I run nine.
But I never tell anyone that because I’m afraid that they’ll accuse me of being “an irrational woman”, or they’ll wonder why I’m not thinner or more attractive, or they’ll think that I’m implying I’m in some way superior for running those miles.
And then I’ll feel the need to apologize. Again. For being who I am. And doing what I do. Even though it has nothing to do with you.
And this makes me tired.
I am tired of worrying about what you think.
Or how I made you feel.
Or how I can make you feel better about how you made me feel.
I'm just not going to do that anymore.
Which is not to say we shouldn’t all be kind to each other, and careful. We should. I believe it’s in our contract.
But once we’ve fulfilled our end of the agreement, that’s it.
No more egg shells.
We can—we should—be able to rest easy.
One of us says something awkward. The other cringes and walks away. No more apologies or appeasing. Just the next time we cross paths, we smile and greet one another as the very human beings that we are.
Doesn't that sound better?
I'm going to shoot for that.
How far along am I?
I'll be honest. I'm a little farther along than I was before you inquired.
Thanks for asking.