Hi, Be Wellers! I know we haven’t officially met, but I wanted to interrupt your regularly scheduled program to pass along a little friendly advice. Think of it as a public-service announcement as we venture ever further into the Season of Eating, a time when all of us are trying our damnedest (hello, enormous sweater) to hide a few extra gingerbread-induced pounds.
Okay, here goes: Never, ever (EVER!) ask a woman if she is pregnant. You run the risk of looking like an idiot and causing copious amounts of embarrassment (and, probably, tears. In that order.) in the highly plausible scenario that she’s not actually pregnant and just maybe, you know, not looking her very best at that particular moment in time.
I always figured this little nugget of wisdom was obvious enough on its own that it didn’t need to be stated aloud. You know, sort of like, “Don’t stick your hand in the fire, moron.” But apparently I was mistaken. Here’s why: In the past year, five people (5!) have stopped me and congratulated me on my pregnancy. Before you shout “Mazel tov!” at your computer screen and crack open a bottle of champagne, there’s more: I AM NOT PREGNANT.
So here’s what I would like to tell you today: If ever you pass a lady on the street and think to yourself, “I want to ruin that lady’s day,” go ahead and ask her when her baby is due. You will certainly ruin her day and potentially her week and month with it. No amount of other people saying, “What! That person was crazy!” will make her feel any better.
I know this because it has happened to me … five times. Last week was the most recent incident. We had food delivered at work for a large meeting, and when I stood up from my desk to sign the credit card slip, the delivery man shouted (literally, shouted), “Congratulations! Girl or boy?” When I informed him that the answer was neither, which was awkward enough, he asked me why I don’t want a baby. Is there a polite way to say to someone, “Please, just stop talking”? Instead, I gave him a $5 tip then had a good cry at my desk.
Okay, so before you get all girl power and start posting comments about how evil men are and they should know better, I should mention that of the five people who’ve asked if I’m pregnant, one was a woman. I mean, she really should know better, right? The answer there, of course, is yes, and to that woman I say: I am still giving you the stink-eye a full year later. So there.
To the four men who have asked me about my non-existent upcoming birth, here are a few things you should know:
1. Once upon a time, I was chubby. I got married, gained 20 pounds (did you know this is a thing? Like the freshman 15, but with marriage. Whatever you lost for the wedding, plus 10 pounds. Who knew?), then I lost 20 pounds (hooray, Weight Watchers!) and have maintained it ever since. By asking me if I am pregnant, you just undid everything good I felt about myself up until this moment.
2. You are on my list, Kill Bill-style, for life. Although I will smile at you while you fix the photocopier, sign for the packages you deliver and give you your $5 tip for delivering the office pizza, I have dismembered you in my head many times over.
3. Empire-waist clothing is not just for pregnant ladies. They are universally flattering and comfortable, and most women—yes, even the super-duper skinny ones—probably have a shirt or dress in that style.
4. No matter what else you say after you ask a woman if she is pregnant (even if she is actually pregnant, say several pregnant friends of mine), all she will hear is, “I THINK YOU ARE FAT.” There is literally no recovering from the previous question, and your best bet is to just run. Run fast, run far, just run.
Here is my cardinal rule about asking a woman if she is pregnant: Unless you can see the baby making its way out of the womb, do.not.ask. Not even if her ankles are swollen 18 times their normal size and she is wearing sweatpants to work because that’s all that fits her right now. Not even if her belly has popped so far that you have to back up 10 steps so that she can turn around. Not even if her water just broke alllllll over your shoes—okay, maybe at that point you get a pass. But barring that! Unless that baby is crowning like you saw when you were traumatized by that Miracle of Birth video in high school sex-ed, do not ask a woman if she is pregnant. Ever.
Okay! On with December!
>> Please tell me I’m not alone, Be Wellers. Has anyone ever asked if you’re pregnant when you’re not? How did you handle the situation? I’d love to hear your tales of woe in the comments!