Friday, April 2, 2010

My Bubble

No matter how much I expect it, and try to remind myself it will happen, it never fails to surprise and irritate me how many people think they have the right to invade a pregnant woman's privacy and space. Complete strangers reaching out to pat my belly, asking me how far along I am and when am I due and is it a boy or a girl... I try to just smile politely, answer their questions, and move along as quickly as possible, but the eternal sarcastic inside my head wants to reach out, pat their belly, ask for their birth date, phone number, and current blood pressure reading, just to remind them that some things are just personal. (I wish to emphasize that this applies only to strangers or lesser-known acquaintances... if you are my friend or family member, this rant does not apply to you.)

About a week ago, I went to Giant late at night to pick up a few things. I had just walked in and was perusing the oranges (looking for the most perfect ones, as I hardly ever eat oranges anymore and wanted it to be as amazing as possible) when I was cornered by a complete stranger. She looked as though she was probably in her late 50's or early 60's, spoke very rapidly, and had mascara all over her eyelids, which I was powerless to avoid staring at. She asked all the usual questions, and when I gave her my due date, she started immediately shaking her head. "Nope. No, you'll never make it to May 30th. He's going to come out before then. Not too early, but definitely before May 30th. I worked in the NICU long enough to know when a baby will come early." It was truly a battle to get away from this woman without being rude, but I eventually managed, muttering to myself that although I appreciate her enthusiastic endorsement of an early delivery, I'd like to continue taking medical advice from a doctor, not from a crazy produce-section psychic.

(side note: when I left the grocery store maybe 20 minutes later, the same lady was following around the poor kid pushing carts in the parking lot, talking a mile a minute. I didn't catch what the conversation was about, as I was trying to keep my head down and move quickly so as not to be spotted and subsequently hunted.)

Thinking about it later, though, I realized that I seem to attract these kind of people even when I'm not pregnant. No matter how hard I glare, the lotion people in the middle of the mall will always offer to lather up my hands. The lady at Auntie Anne's asks me to sample a pretzel, every single time I pass her, even if I'm just walking laps around the mall to kill time. I thought the Bath Fitter lady was going to physically restrain me the other day at the mall, no matter how much I insisted that as a renter, I was not looking to remodel my bathroom. When buying fabric at a JoAnn's in Massachusetts, a complete stranger grabbed my arm and proceeded to inform me that she liked my fabric selections so much, she bought several yards of each pattern I had picked out (which is strange, considering I was using them to make a wreath for my mother-in-law, and I can't imagine those patterns coordinating in any other capacity.) No matter where I go, or what I'm doing, or how hard I try to convey the "please don't talk to me, I don't really want to be friends" vibe, people inevitably enter my personal space.

A couple weeks ago, I was shopping at Boscov's with my mother-in-law, my husband, and my daughter. We picked out several spring and summer items for my daughter and were on our way out of the store, when suddenly the neckline at the back of my shirt was being yanked downward. I suppressed a scream when the lady started talking, explaining that she wanted to see the rest of my tattoo (part had been peeking above the neckline) and then proceeded to drill me about the meaning it might have. Umm... excuse me? Since when is it considered appropriate to distort a complete stranger's clothing for ANY reason? Had she asked me I might have considered pulling it down myself in order for her to get a better view, but in no way was I ok with the fact that she just went ahead and yanked my shirt down herself. I have tattoos on my thighs as well... had I been wearing shorts, would she have given me a good old fashioned schoolyard wedgie to get a better look? Should I be paranoid?

I'm not trying to say that I'm a rude person... I usually manage to get through these situations with my dignity in tact and with a certain amount of grace, but inside I'm usually either extremely embarrassed or completely seething. I've never been a super outgoing person, and as a result, have established what I like to think of as "my bubble." I don't want strangers invading my bubble unless they are invited, or unless they invite themselves in a non-assuming, non-assaulting way. Ask to touch my belly and I may let you. Touch my belly without asking and I may try to bite your hand. It's that simple. And under absolutely no circumstances are you to in any way stretch or distort any article of my clothing to get a better look at what's underneath, whether it be a tattoo or a strange-looking mole. If it's under my clothes, it's none of your business.


Sharon said...

Apparently one of the advantages of being a "big" woman like me is the ability to frown or glare at those kind of approachers and have it be SO effective, they practically trip themselves trying to retreat. I don't know what to say to help you, but thanks for giving me the "bright side" of my size. :D

Xarata said...

yes, i've mastered the glare. Store people stay away from me. My sister didn't want ANYONE touching her belly without permission, including family- so i'm generally really good about that. I can't believe she yanked your shirt down- little old ladies have quite the strangle-grip too!