Father To A Faux Baby

by admin on September 6, 2011

My grandfather-in-law is in his mid-sixties and could easily pass for mid-fifties. He runs marathons, rides a Triumph Daytona, and is entirely in possession of his marbles… in short, he has absolutely no excuse (as my own far older and rather senile grandfather has) for putting his foot in his mouth so regularly and extensively as he does.  There’s not an ounce of malice in him, he just hasn’t acquired the habit of thinking about things before he says them.

Of the many agonizing episodes I could relate, one stands out with excruciating, teeth-clenching clarity. My partner and I were visiting his grandparents at their house, and we were all out in the front garden drinking ciders, weeding, tidying and generally pottering. My grandfather-in-law was trimming the hedge by the front gate when an old school friend of his daughter (my mother-in-law) walked past. She stopped for a brief how-d’ye-do and within a minute or two the afternoon’s peaceful comfort was shattered by that cliche of well-meaning recklessness, “So when are you due?”.

As the woman was pretty obviously just overweight, my partner, my grandmother-in-law and I all froze and stared at each other in open-mouthed horror as the hot embarrassed silence drew ever longer. After a beat the poor woman replied that she wasn’t pregnant, and my grandmother-in-law hastened in their direction to smooth things over and change the subject. Before she could reach them, however, my grandfather-in-law had subjected the woman to a moment’s critical gaze, and after a thoughtful pause had asked her with sincere concern, “Are you sure?”.

There was nothing we could do, the blunder was irretrievable. I caught the woman’s eye as she mumbled something incoherent and fled; I can only hope she read my apology in my eyes. My partner’s entire family has heard this story now, and knowing the man in question as they do it is frequently the subject of hilarity. I can appreciate that the whole episode is actually very, very funny – but I think you had to NOT be there. 0905-11

If I had been the woman, I’d have leaned closer to your grandfather-in-law and whispered in a conspiratorial tone, but loud enough to actually be overheard, “I won’t tell anyone you are the father if you won’t.”   And then laughed quite heartily.

Addendum: To anyone tempted to write in the comments that had you been the recipient of such a faux pas, you would melted into a flood of tears, collapsed in agony on the ground, weeped inconsolably for weeks on end and your life ruined, please read my further thoughts in the “Comments”. I publish these stories so you can learn how to respond with grace and a little humor.

{ 72 comments… read them below or add one }

Melly September 6, 2011 at 3:47 am

I feel for the poor lady. If that had been me there would’ve been tears and no quick witty remarks. :-(

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Wim September 6, 2011 at 6:00 am

Oh well, that is a bit of a classic, I’m afraid… A couple of years ago my cousin not only received congratulations on her (supposed) pregnancy from one of her mother’s acquaintances, but also a cute pair of tiny woollen baby socks.

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Susan September 6, 2011 at 6:10 am

I was actually NOT overweight, but was in need of a few sit-ups, when an older lady approached me at a fast-food restaurant where I was buying my lunch. She patted my slightly rounded lower belly (those scrubs were not the most figure-flattering outfit I ever owned) and asked me how far along I was! I was flabbergasted! I looked at her in total speechless shock, shook my head and left the place. My happy lunch break was ruined. I don’t think was even able to eat the meal I had bought.

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MidoriBird September 6, 2011 at 6:42 am

Eh. I made this blunder just ONCE when I was thirteen and learned from it….and I didn’t make his secondary comment either that put the chokehold on the situation!

I’m stil veryl embarrassed for having done it just one, too, even though we all make mistakes and mistakes are best learned from. It was just a moment’s thoughtlessness and embarrassment that I cannot take back.

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Enna September 6, 2011 at 7:11 am

I like Admin’s response but I also see Melly’s point that it is hard to be quick with the witty remarks. The grandfather does sound like hard work. If I was that lady I’m not too sure how I would react but I would put him striaght saying it’s rude to make assumptions like that and that since he isn’t a qualified doctor giving me a ultrasound scan he’s got no business to tell me if I’m “sure” I’m not pregnant – just big!

Judging on a lady’s tummy size can be misleading. Who has wateched Two Weeks Notice? When Hugh Grant’s character makes the assumption a large lady is pregnant and she says “What baby?” Now if a female guest who is of child bearing age stays a week in Grandpa’s house, and is sick in the morning every morning and showing other pregnancy syptoms such as being sensitive to food she would normally enjoy, have sore/swollen feet etc that would be a bit different: however the “are you pregnant?” question would have to be said in an appriopiate manner.

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Aje September 6, 2011 at 7:26 am

Stupid stupid stupid.

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Dana September 6, 2011 at 7:56 am

I’m overweight and tend to gather my weight in my tummy so I get asked that question a lot! I always replied, “No, I’m not, it’s just baby fat!” That worked well until someone asked me how old the baby was and I had to sheepishly reply, “15…”

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Shalamar September 6, 2011 at 9:26 am

With respect to the Admin, I’m betting that you’ve never been on the receiving end of the “when are you due?” question. I have, and believe me, it’s NOT funny at the time. Not only would I not have had the presence of mind to whisper “I won’t tell anyone you’re the father if you don’t”, I probably would’ve burst into tears on the spot.

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admin September 6, 2011 at 9:55 am

You would be quite wrong, Shalamar, to presume that I was never on the receiving end of someone’s presumptions that I was pregnant when I wasn’t. How do you think I’ve learned to come up with witty retorts?

And honestly, some people reading this site need to learn to not let comments from strangers ruin your day or even the moment. What a stranger says to me, thinks of me, believes of me can be completely irrelevant to what I know to be true. Strangers are not in my sphere of people around me that have influence on my life. Bursting into tears would have amped up the awkwardness of the original faux pas of someone saying something stupid and at Ehell, we’re all about diffusing bad situations, not making them worse. My recommended comment clearly turns the tables on grandfather-in-law and gives him an immediate “out” to wiggle out of his verbal faux pas. Sometimes I find it incredibly amusing to be the recipient of someone else’s faux pas because the power to choose the outcome lies with me. I choose to be the person in control and I choose to manipulate the situation so I have the power to end it the way I want to. I often choose to end the encounter in humor thus relieving both of us of the accumulated awkwardness. That’s how people earn their reputations for being gracious and kind…they learn how to defuse the awkwardness of others to everyone’s mutual advantage.

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Kitty Lizard September 6, 2011 at 9:30 am

I have a brother-in-law with Asperger’s syndrome (moderately severe) and he’s constantly coming up with gems like this. He’s clueless when people react badly. (Was it something I said? Um…yeah, it was.)
He’s quite intelligent, can carry on a highly intellectual and challenging conversation, and then, out of the blue…..oopsie. And everyone is standing there with their mouths open staring at him. The victims never know how to react, the family stands there with red faces and the embarrassment hangs in the air.

Kitty

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GEna September 6, 2011 at 9:41 am

When I was 18, my BFF and I walked into a convenience store. The clerk was quite obviously pregnant. Now, normally my self-absorbed friend and myself would have never commented (at 18, we were both self-absorbed, not just my friend!), but friend had just found out that she was pregnant and so asked the clerk when she was due. The clerk replied that she had miscarried a few days earlier.

I learned then to NEVER ask until the supposed pregnant person brings it up.

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chelee September 6, 2011 at 9:43 am

I’m not sure what comic said it … but my favorite rule on this situation went something like “Never ask a woman if she is pregnant unless you see a baby emerging from her body at that very moment!”

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Hemi Halliwell September 6, 2011 at 9:43 am

I’m always amazed that some people jump to the conclusion that women who have a little extra weight around the tummy are either pregnant or just had a baby. A) Someone’s weight or pregnancy status is NOT your business. B) Maybe the lady is on medication or has a medical disorder that causes the extra weight.
Sorry- this is one of my pet peeves. Assuming women who have a little extra weight in the tummy are pregnant and actually commenting on it! If we were all the same size & weight, the world would be a lot more boring!

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Rachel September 6, 2011 at 9:46 am

I think this could be the early stages of dementia, especially with his second statement.

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Hemi Halliwell September 6, 2011 at 9:47 am

And what is with people just patting/touching your (supposedly) pregnant tummy anyway? Shouldn’t total strangers ask BEFORE they touch a woman’s pregnant tummy? That’s an invasion of personal space and I never did let/want strangers touching my tummy when I was pregnant!

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Chocobo September 6, 2011 at 10:09 am

Criiiiiiinge!

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Susan September 6, 2011 at 10:13 am

I agree with the admin’s last comment regarding the use of humor and not letting a random comment ruin your day. The incident I described above happened a long time ago, and I admit I was crushed at the time. Now, I am more likely to laugh and make a light hearted joke. The ability to diffuse a situation with humor develops with age, I guess! (or at least it has for me) (:

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Margaret September 6, 2011 at 10:14 am

I had someone assume that about me once, complete with the “Are you sure?” comment. It was in the context of moving heavy furniture up the stairs (they were concerned about my “condition”). Forget witty comeback — I should have agreed and gotten out of the heavy lifting!

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BeachMum September 6, 2011 at 10:54 am

I’ve just hit the point where I assume that many people are just ignorant. Shortly after I gave birth to my second child, I was at a new-mom specialty store. I had the brand new (as in a few days old) baby in the baby carrier, and was looking for a new nursing bra. A gentleman in that area of the store (meaning that his wife/partner was either pregnant or a new mom) asked me when I was due. I was amused and pointed to the sleeping baby in the carrier. He looked horrified!

That said, I love Miss Manners’ admonition not to ask when the baby is due unless there has been specfiic mention of the baby (like a t-shirt pointing to baby or the woman talking about her upcoming birth plans) or the baby is actually descending. Otherwise, no matter how sure you are that the person is with child, keep it to yourself.

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Yarnspinner September 6, 2011 at 10:58 am

During the “greeting of peace” at church, our clueless priest patted my time-of-the month swell and commended me on my pregnancy. I said “I am not pregnant, father.” “Oh, don’t be ashamed of having a baby.” “I’m not, father, but I am also not pregnant.” “I think it’s wonderful you are having a child whatever your circumstances.” (Clearly said because I was alone and not wearing a ring.) “THANK you, father, but once again, I am NOT pregnant, I am overweight and I have my period just now.”

He hurried away to the next people.

Come communion, I am afraid I go to ehell…Father said to me before giving me the communion “I’m so sorry, I didn’t intend to embarrass you.”

To which I replied “Father, I am not the one who is embarrassed, trust me.”

And behind me I heard my friend’s husband whisper to her “For heaven’s sake, sweetie, suck in your gut before he goes telling everyone you’re pregnant, too.” Which made all t hree of us break down laughing.

I’ve since found a new church.

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Angela September 6, 2011 at 11:12 am

My favorite example occurred when I was running some errands with my 3 day old son after a visit to the doctor. One store employee was marveling at the tiny baby, and called another employee (a teenage girl) over to see: “look – he’s only 3 days old. How precious.” The girl made appropriately complimentary noises, and then looked at me and said (in all seriousness): “Wow – and you’re pregnant again already!”
I mumbled something about how that wasn’t really possible and left. It wasn’t until later that I realized how truly hilarious her error was. Three days after giving birth, I didn’t look 3 days pregnant, I looked more like 6 months pregnant!

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Moggy September 6, 2011 at 11:28 am

Ah, my contribution was posted – that was quick!

Just want to say that in principle I agree with the Admin about the use of humour; in my very early teens I was unfortunate enough to file into a school assembly in such an order that I got the chair someone had cunningly detached from its legs. I and the top half of the chair slid straight onto our backs – in my case with my legs in the air, my skirt around my chest and my head between the feet of the person behind me who by sheer bad luck was a boy from my form who already gave me a hard time. It was actually quite painful, and obviously rather embarrassing. There was a moment in which I thought I was going to cry (as if thirteen-year-old-girls don’t have enough to be insecure and awkward about without an accident like this in front of her entire school!), but then I realised that literally my only option was to laugh at myself straight away. I got up, stood on the chair next to me, and bowed. It was the only way to salvage any dignity whatsoever, and a useful lesson for life!

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Leslie September 6, 2011 at 11:41 am

A couple of years ago, after a long, lazy winter, I’d gained a little belly weight. I’d taken my young daughter with me grocery shopping, and at the check out, I overheard the service clerk ask my daughter if she ‘wants a little brother or a little sister’. I couldn’t help it, I laughed and told her I wasn’t pregnant, just way too fond of soda! That poor girl was so embarrassed, I almost wished I’d not said anything! I did go home, take off that awful high waisted dress I was wearing and tossed it.

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Ashley September 6, 2011 at 11:42 am

The one time I have ever gotten asked this, I answered “I’m not pregnant, I’m just fat” which isn’t even really true, I’m skinny, I just happen to carry what weight I have in my stomach, and when I eat a large meal, I absolutely get a “food baby”. It shut the woman who asked it up.

I try not to let strangers comments bother me, I really really try. But every once and a while someone WILL lob something your way that you aren’t ready for…So as much as I would like to agree with Admin, there must be exceptions to this somewhere.

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Boca September 6, 2011 at 11:59 am

For their own amusement I suggest the family of this man gang up on him. It is clear from the information about him that he would be sensitive to suggestions he is aging. Take every opportunity to point out he is not expected to do everything he did when he was younger. “I’ll take that, Granddad, you’re not as young as you used to be.” If he gets “up there” after this treatment sinks in then is the time to discuss his unfeeling remarks to others. If he persists, so should you all. Enjoy.

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Susan September 6, 2011 at 12:27 pm

That is embarrassing! If it were to happen to me today, I think I’d reply to the “when are you due?” question with the answer “12 years ago.” That’ll make them wonder! ;)

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Maryann September 6, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Shudder. There’s no way I’d have been fast enough on my feet in that situation. I admire people who can respond to something like that with absolute grace and humor, but as much as I might fantasize about what I wish I’d said, I’d be too humiliated to force my brain to function on that level. I don’t know how I’d have reacted in the moment, but I definitely know it would’ve made me terribly self conscious the next time I looked in the mirror or got dressed.

One thing I will say about why people might react differently is that being single changes one’s perspective on whose opinion is important and whose is not. When you’re single, the image you project to perfect strangers becomes very significant, and even if the stranger who insults you isn’t of interest, it makes you wonder if that’s really the image you’re projecting to people who do not know you.

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Aje September 6, 2011 at 1:25 pm

I don’t think Admin’s comment was out of turn at all. Here’s another idea:

Person: Are you pregnant?
Me: Why no. But… the night is young. (wink)

As per Joyce Nash, an actress who doesn’t let her weight define who she is. :D
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyQ_IKkAM9I

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Amanda September 6, 2011 at 1:44 pm

I’ve been asked *that* question once when I wasn’t expecting, but the circumstances are a bit different than most here.

Back when I was still single, I was visiting home for Christmas break from college. I was looking at decorations in the local dollar store while my mother and younger sisters did some shopping. A lady I didn’t recognize approached and started chatting amiably with me about how I was liking school, that it was nice that I was home for the holidays, etc. The whole time, I was wracking my brain trying to figure out how she knew me, since as I said I didn’t recognize her. I just figured she was someone who knew my parents, since they live in a small town where pretty much all the adults know each other one way or another.

Then the lady finally did something that clued me in that she didn’t know me either, but probably thought she did. She reached out and patted my *very flat* belly, and asked “So when are you due?”

Cue deer-in-headlights look as my brain ground to a halt, then started back up with this new realization. I stammered out, “Um, I’m not pregnant.” The woman then gave me a closer look, her eyes widened, and she gasped, “Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you were someone else!” And with that, she scurried away, never to be seen again. Not even five minutes later, I was laughing and relating the story to my mom.

What boggled me most about the incident at the time, and what was my real clue that she genuinely thought I was someone else, was that my belly was as flat as a board at the time. There should’ve been no way for her to mistake me for pregnant, since I didn’t have any excess weight then. Even now, when I have a bit of a paunch when I’m not pregnant (I’m one of those who carries all my excess weight in my belly and hips), I don’t get asked the question. Go figure.

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Lady Macbeth September 6, 2011 at 2:13 pm

I know it’s awkward and embarrassing, but seriously, from the comments here, we all know what we look like. I still have a lot of unresolved baby fat on my stomach. If someone sees me in a top with a high waist, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for them to think I’m pregnant. Of course they shouldn’t say anything, but people say dumb things all the time. Why let it ruin your lunch/day/week/life? Not worth it. Laugh and move on with your life.

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spyderboyy September 6, 2011 at 2:39 pm

I was in a furniture store one time buying a coffee table. My GF [at the time] was with me for the day. While she was only slightly overweight, she was wearing a shirt that did show a suspicious bulge in the middle a little bit. I was paying for the table, and the young sales lady started pitching some damage coverage for the table, and in trying to make a connection, she said something like “it looks like you have a baby on the way?”

While I had noticed the way my GF’s shirt fit and should have been rather forgiving, I instead gave a very cold look and a blunt “No.” to match. This caught the young lady off guard. She tried to recover, but then said “excuse me,” hurriedly walked off, and I never saw her again. After a half minute, a gentleman came out and seamlessly took over the rest of the transaction.

It took a long time for me to come around, but now I really feel bad about how I handled that. If I could remember anything about the young lady, I would like to have sought her out and apologized for not showing some grace.

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The Other Amber September 6, 2011 at 2:47 pm

I had this asked of me once, when I was about 15. It was at a state fair kind of thing, where in the large exhibition hall there were a number of vendors displaying their wares for sale. I was at the booth of a company selling dinnerware. Shortly before heading over to the fair we’d been for a big lunch of Mexican food and it wasn’t sitting with me well at all. I wasn’t overweight and had a flat stomach, but this was the 80’s so I was wearing an oversize top, and because I was in a bit of distress from lunch I had one hand on my stomach as I was looking at the items for sale. The salesman came over to me and, thinking he’d ingratiate himself with me and get a sale, grinned and asked me when I was due. I just looked at him and said “I’m not pregnant, I’m just feeling sick”. He looked rather horrified.

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Allie September 6, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Being mistakenly asked when I’m due actually sounds a lot nicer than my husband’s relatives, who just come right out with “my god, you’ve put on a lot of weight!” I try to take your attitude, Admin, although I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt a bit deep down. However, I never flinch, and I’ve taken to smiling sweetly and saying “well, that makes two of us”. I do wish people everywhere would pull their heads out of the sand (or wherever else they might be stuck) and realize how rude it is to make comments about the personal appearance of others.

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ellesee September 6, 2011 at 2:54 pm

I’ve never had this happen to me, but ready some of the comments, I’m surprised that people actually walk up to others and *touch* the bellies. Rude!! They would have gotten more than a witty comment from me.

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Tribaldancer September 6, 2011 at 2:56 pm

I have a word of comfort to offer those who have endured this embarrassment. Sometimes it isn’t your weight at all but an unflattering outfit. Many, many years ago after my husband and I had just been married the pastor who had married us came up to me after church, shook my hand warmly and, smiling, said, “I’m so glad you’ve decided to start a family right away!” I was taken aback but had to laugh. At the time I was dancing with the local ballet company and as a result worked very hard to keep my weight on the low end of healthy. I was, however, wearing a very loose (and comfy!) jumper!

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Leslie Holman-Anderson September 6, 2011 at 3:37 pm

I don’t get it. Yes, it’s a bit embarrassing to be thought pregnant when you’re not, especially if you’re sensitive about your weight. And yes, I’ve been in exactly that position and yes, it hurt my feelings. But humiliated? Devastated? Forced to flee the scene in shame? Wow. I’d hate to see these delicate flowers’ reactions to to something actually hurtful.

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Alexis September 6, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Even a woman who is actually pregnant doesn’t want to discuss it with every rude ignorant stranger who walks by. Really. If you have to ask that question, it isn’t any of your business. The same thing is true about asking people if or when they are having children, or when are they having more, or why aren’t they having more or why ARE they having more, etc, etc, etc. People will tell you want they want you to know. All you have to do is listen. Otherwise, assume the subject is off limits, even to family members.

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Tara September 6, 2011 at 5:19 pm

I’ve had people ask me how far along I was a couple of times (mostly when slouching…). I didn’t get upset about it though, nor did I get mean. I’d just tell the person I’m not pregnant, just fat (yes, I say exactly that), but it’s okay (to try and make them feel better, because they DO get extremely embarrassed). My mom used to get that quest a lot when we were kids, and she would just make up a date for her “due date.” Then, no feelings were hurt. I think it’s better to go ahead and tell them they’re mistaking fat for a baby, that way, they won’t do it again, possibly with someone who would actually be hurt (or angry) by such a comment.

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Angeldrac September 6, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Witty is good, BUT as someone who has been trying to concieve for two years, works in a very baby-loving, all-female environment the frequent “are you pregnant?” questions (relating to my ore-menstrual tummy, my appetite or my absentmindedness) are extremely upsetting and unwelcome, and cause ms to hide in the toilet and cry rather than think of something clever to say.
My friends and I have concluded that unless you can physically see a baby coming ou of someone DONMT EVER ASK!

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Louise September 6, 2011 at 5:59 pm

I think the best response to “Are you sure?” is “I think I’d know!”

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SV September 6, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Well, I have an “When are you due? ” story , and unfortunately I am the very guilty party. I was a few months pregnant with my second child and one day when I was at work a very slim-but-quite -large -in the stomach lady came in. She purchased a relatively heavy item. Now, I normally subscribe to the common sense rule that you never, never imply pregnancy unless you have irrefutable proof, but not only was I aglow with my own happy news, I also felt confident that if I ever saw an extremely pregnant woman, this was it. So in a fit of pregnancy camraderie, I said cheerfully, ” Let me carry that out for you …I’m pregnant, too, but not as pregnant as you!” Even now I have trouble explaining what possessed me to say that, but there you have it. Cue the awkward pause, the slow realization that I had stuck my foot all the way down my throat, and then the woman says, “Oh, I’m not pregnant.” I just stared at her, frozen in embarassment. And then she unbelievably adds, ” Hmmm. I guess I could look pregnant. I wonder if that’s why people are always offering to carry things for me? ”
I can’t remember what I said or did after that, because thankfully I have blocked it from my mind. It was excruciating and suffice it to say, if I ever had hesitation about mentioning pregnancy before this incident it is nothing compared to how I feel now! A little humiliation works wonders in really driving that lesson home :)

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babs September 6, 2011 at 6:50 pm

A young pastor at our church made this unfortunate assumption when he was baptizing a lady (full immersion). He smiled at the large congregation and said “It’s not often that we get to baptize 2 at one time!” She mumbled that she wasn’t pregnant and he wanted the baptismal pool to open up and swallow him right then and there! He told me the next day that was the last time he would EVER make an assumption (out loud at least) that a woman was pregnant. I’m sure after many years, he still cringes at the thought of it.

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Sharon September 6, 2011 at 7:01 pm

I guess I would say something like, “I am “due” the same day that you will get your award for tact.” Then when he asked what I meant by that, I would have told him to ask his wife, she would explain it better than I could.

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Stephenie September 6, 2011 at 7:43 pm

I used to work at a psychiatric hospital several years ago… I had been having some health issues and had been put on some medicine that caused weight gain. I actually had one of the psychiatrists I worked with walk up to me and flat out ask me if I was pregnant. That caused me to lose a lot of respect for her professional abilities.

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Brenda September 6, 2011 at 7:54 pm

When I was much younger and quite slim, a new neighbor asked me the classic, “When are you due?” I was wearing an old and very loose shirt of my husband’s and leaning against a column under the eaves in a way that made my stomach pooch just a bit. I told her I wasn’t, but she was mortified. If you ask an extremely personal question, you run the risk of being embarrassed.

Now, I’m much older and have put on some weight. The young son of a coworker came in one day and was standing by as his dad and I chatted. He suddenly pointed at my tummy and said, “Is that a baby?” I started laughing and said, “No, I’m just fat.” His father turned bright red and told him, “What have we discussed about talking to ladies?” The son said, “Oh, I’m sorry.”

I told him it was okay, it did look as though I was pregnant. His father apologized, but I told him that I didn’t mind and that I thought his son might have learned a practical lesson.

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majuba September 6, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Reminds me of an incident from my childhood. I grew up in a small rural town and our class had been taken to the capital city on an excursion. One of the activites was swimming at a popular beach. I was with a group of girls splashing in the shallows when my friend “Clueless” committed the Faux-pas. While we were all playing a woman had walked past along the beach. physically fit and wearing a bikini…and very,very pregnant. Now, often, a pregnant belly -especially in side profile- has quite a distinct shape. We all barely gave her a glance….except for Clueless.
In a VERY loud, VERY carrying voice she asked “So, why is she so FAT?” We were mortified! We dragged our friend away out of earshot and filled her in on the truth. I just hope the woman didn’t hear or ignored it.

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TKarsjens September 6, 2011 at 9:08 pm

I have come to the conclusion that this is often a question asked not because of the person being asked, but actually because of the person asking. I once had a hairdresser who would always ask if I had kids to which I would reply no and when she pressed indicate that I was not planning to.

One visit, as I walked in the salon immediately she asked me if I was pregnant. I suppose it was a poorly fitting outfit and I replied I was not. You would think that even if she was not embarassed, she would not ask again. Next time I had my hair done, I mentioned something about my hair laying funny and she again jumped on “are you pregnant”? As I understand it hair does sometimes act different during pregnancy but that isn’t the only reason.

I finally realized that the real issue is that this woman had pregnancy on the brain. Maybe she was infertile (I hope not) or maybe just a young hopeful woman looking forward to her own pregnancies. Whatever the issue, it was not about me, but about her. I suspect this is the case many times (although perhaps not in the case of the OP) when people ask these questions.

Being uninterested in children (no offense to those who have and love them), I would never dream of asking someone if they were pregnant – not out of fear of offending them, but because I really am not interested. I think people who always put their foot in their mouths asking are the opposite of me – so interested in children they are very interested in the possible pregnancies of others.

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Zhoen September 6, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Had a boss ask me every month, when I wasn’t feeling well, if I were pregnant. My marriage was a disaster, I had no way out, and I was desperate for that little paycheck. Getting pregnant would have been a personal disaster, but this older guy with a large family just wouldn’t see it that way, and tried to cajole me into being eager to have a child, despite my horror every time he asked me, and repeated requests not to suggest that. I was young, vulnerable emotionally, and he just kept poking that very sore spot.

Just like the women trying to conceive, those trying *not* to are subjected to this. Yes, humor would have been good, but I just wasn’t up to it then. Now that I could give as good as I get, I’m past the age where I’m asked. Thankfully. Best part of staring at 50.

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Shalamar September 6, 2011 at 10:16 pm

My apologies for my false assumption, Admin – you’re obviously a lot quicker on your feet and more gracious than I am. :)

Angela, I remember staring in horror at my body three days after giving birth. I was so used to the mothers I’d seen in movies, whose stomachs miraculously got flat after having a baby, that I’d expected the same thing to happen to me. (Not that my stomach has ever been flat at the best of times, mind you.)

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Anna September 6, 2011 at 10:17 pm

My favourite responses are:
“No, but the night is young!”
“No, why do you ask? Are you?”
And my old fall back: “Nope! Just fat!” with a big cheery grin.

All courtesy of Joy Nash’s “Staircase Wit” video.

Yes, it is rude. Hardly seems worth crying over though.

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Nashvillegirl September 6, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Actually, I wrote about this on my blog the other week. See, I have had a little love affair with food as of late, blaming depression and boredom for shoving the food into my mouth. If I wear the right shirt and stand just so I do look pregnant. My comeback will be, “oh there is no baby in there, just a food baby, been working on her for months! “

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