The other day I ran into an acquaintance in the lobby of a building. She was talking to man I didn’t know. I smiled politely at him and told her hello. I didn’t want to interrupt and I headed on my way. Just before I walked out of the glass doors onto Ventura Boulevard, a good 25 feet away from my acquaintance, she yelled, “are you pregnant yet?”
I’m not. I make an effort to not be.
“No. Are you?” I asked.
She laughed. I left.
I was offended but not surprised. It seems that shortly after my husband and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary, (or I turned 28, or fall TV premiered, I’m not sure exactly what happened), people in my life decided to go on pregnancy-watch-high-alert. Maybe I’m old fashioned but I think this is very personal. First of all, we’re talking about sex. Conception is about sex. There is nothing shameful about it but I would never yell, “hey, you having sex regularly?” to someone I don’t know that well. Maybe if I was still improvising. But I’m not. Also, pregnancy is fraught, especially the early weeks, doesn’t it seem…I don’t know, in poor taste, or risky to ask people who are not freely sharing information about the occupation status of their uterus about that very thing? What if someone is attempting and failing at conceiving? Also, some people don’t want to have children. OR some people do but they are in the middle of building careers, or paying off student loans, or enjoying their partner as just a husband and not a co-parent. I know there is no good time. There are better times than others.
I am able to accept this particular woman as naive or, less generously, rude, but it’s not just her. If, when dining with friends, I don’t immediately pour myself a glass of wine, eyes narrow. The irony in my complaint is that I am guilty of this as well. I am an amateur pregnancy detective. If anyone in a committed relationship doesn’t call me back for three days or calls me twice in two days I assume she’s pregnant. I have gone so far as to leave a voicemail (I cringe) saying, “you haven’t called me back, is it because you’re pregnant?” It wasn’t.
Is this just this particular privileged narrative? We go to college, we graduate, we hang around, we move in, we get engaged, we get married and then we get pregnant. Are we just waiting for the seemingly inevitable? Just as all of a sudden everyone is getting married; are we waiting for the wave of sonogram postings to crash on our yipster shore?
This is when I wish I was Southern. Or a member of any culture that adhered strictly to a certain social code. One doesn’t ask such things. I believe they are unmentionable— like foundation garments and atheism. One can look knowingly at the woman choosing to pour Pellegrino over pinot grigio but that’s it. Just a knowing look. No shouting. Ever.