Tuesday, March 29, 2011

on not that kind of belly

I have been offered a seat on the subway three times in the last week. You'd think this was a good thing, a generous thing, a sign that chivalry is alive and well in New York and that men just offer their seats to standing women for the sake of it.  But no, I have been offered a seat three times in the last week because three strangers thought I was pregnant.  In my defense, or theirs, the coat I was wearing had a high waist band and the material below the band tends to bulge out with air when I stand a certain way...did that sound convincing?

This is a delicate situation.  I have offered a seat to a woman before thinking she was pregnant, only to realize that she was just overweight.  It's a horrifying wish-to-crawl-beneath-subway-seat-and-disappear moment when you realize you just outed a fat person.  And so, when these sweet people assumed I was with child, I didn't want them to feel the wish-to-disappear embarrassment moment and so a part of me wanted to say, oh thank you, yes, I'd love to sit.  I have a flair for dramatics, evoking the role of pregnant woman would be kind of fun.  I'd hover my hand above the air pouch as if there was something beneath it, lower myself into the seat, and sigh in the way only someone who is pregnant and been on their feet all day sighs.  I'd smile up at them in gratitude, maybe coo at the baby in the stroller next to me, give the baby's mom a knowing look.

But instead, I thought it might be bad karma for some future pregnant moment so I coolly said no thank you, smoothed down the jacket, stood up a little straighter, and didn't make eye contact with any of them for the rest of the ride.

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