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(I'm) The elephant in the room

Written by: Rachel Reiff Ellis April 04 2012 I was at a coffee shop the other day, one person deep in line, tapping on my phone like every other customer waiting for their turn at the cash register, when the person in front of me wrapped up his order and slid to the side. The...

Written by: Rachel Reiff Ellis

I was at a coffee shop the other day, one person deep in line, tapping on my phone like every other customer waiting for their turn at the cash register, when the person in front of me wrapped up his order and slid to the side. The barista behind the counter was a big bald burly man with a beard-slash-goatee and two full-sleeve tattooed arms, and as Istepped up to tell him what Iwanted, he stopped me in mid “Vanilla decaf–” and said “YOU. AREPREGNANT.”

“I——uh. What?”

“You are like, totally pregnant. Like about to have a baby, am Iright?”

“Well … observed? You pegged it. Nothing gets past you!”

He stood there for a full 15 seconds more nodding at me with a grin on his face, smiling at some joke Iwas not getting, before proceeding with our transaction while I just fished for change, pregnantly.

I think when a grisled, usually rude, pierced all over coffee slinger makes mention of your pregnancy, you have reached the point of no return. The point where all interactions with strangers from this day on until delivery are always, forever going to be about your pregnant state, amen. And so here we are. As Ipass, old women reminisce, small children point, teenagers snicker, other moms nod in sympathy, and most of the rest of the general public just stares with jaws slackened. There is no escaping my belly. For anyone.


Here it is, walking Rosie to school.

But sometimes, man alive, do Iwish I could just run in to a store and buy an onion, or a pack of gum, or a pint of Haagen Dazs without having to discuss my fecund state with every nametagged employee in every aisle. And the cashier. And the bag boy. And the lady behind me in line. And the lady behind her. I wonder sometimes if this is what it's like to be famous—not being able to go anywhere without being recognized for being someone (or in this case something). Thank god no one tries to take my picture. I would be … not nice about it, I think. The last time Iwent to the little grocery shop by my house, the woman ringing me up said, “Oooooooooh GIRL. When are you gonna bust?” all drawn out and incredulous, like she couldn't believe Iwas upright. Listen lady, I can't even believe I'm upright sometimes. But right now I just need to get this box of Cheerios, and that's pretty much all you and I need to discuss.

(Is what Iwish I had said. In reality I probably just replied, “May 8th!”and then grabbed my cereal and bolted as quickly as Icould. Which is unfortunately not very fast these days.)


There it is again, always lurking. Anyone else hear the theme to Jaws in their head when looking at this picture?

Oh, but work!Hey! That should offer some relief, right? Imean, there's a place where people see me every day, and so the talk is ratcheted back to only every once in a while remarks about my midsection. Except that at my place of business, even if we're not talking specifically about my pregnancy, well, we're talking about somebody's pregnancy. (Because, duh:PREGNANCY &Newborn. It comes up.) So literally my whole existence, every day, from dawn until dusk is about growing babies, carrying babies, having babies, bellies, babies and more bellies and babies. And also pregnancy. And babies.

The thing is, when you have a large bodily protrusion leading the way into every room that you enter, it's just going to be the thing. The focus. The topic of conversation. And also, I'll admit, if someone walks into a building just before me and doesn't hold the door for me, or takes a seat somewhere making me have to stand, or doesn't hold the elevator long enough for my waddly self to get there, I am a hot mess of righteous indignation. Because do they not SEE that I am WITHCHILD? What total jerks. And yet, if they do hold the elevator doors, or give me their seat, or pick up the thing Idropped and then follow up their act of kindness with a “Oh, wow, look at you!When are you due?” I immediately think murderous thoughts in their general direction.

I'm such a hypocrite. But I am a hypocrite who is approximately 7364 weeks pregnant, which means I don't care that I am a hypocrite. Nor do I care that my belly is a wonder to you, burly barista guy. Ijust want some coffee, dadgummit! And also one of those cheese danishes. And maybe a doughnut. AND a nice boring, ordinary conversation about the WEATHER. CAN AGIRLGETSOMETALKABOUTTHEHUMIDITY AROUND HEREFORONCE?

Hmm? What's that?Oh. Ok, fine. 35 weeks. Boy. Yeah, sure, whatever. Go ahead. You can touch it. Also, you know, whenever you get a second, I'll take a vanilla decaf au lait. Haha, yes, DECAF because I'm pregnant! You got it! Wink, wink!

Sigh.

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