He swore that he would not, but in the event the temptation was just too great. My mother and her brother were beside
themselves with horror, and would have leapt out of the plane to
expiate their shame if they could have. But (at least as my mother
remembers it) all the flight attendants were delighted by his terrible
antics. It seems implausible -- surely they were just acting
delighted by this ridiculous behavior? -- except that I saw him in
action time after time, and he really did pretty much universally charm
the pants off every single person he encountered, everywhere, anytime.
Anyway, the result of this tendency to draw a certain amount of attention to oneself eventually led my mother to suggest that the family motto should be "We Didn't Come All This Way to Be Inconspicuous."
I am not sure I am entirely ready to embrace this philosophy, but I must confess that, in practice, the shoe often fits. Last week I seem to have crossed the line into looking truly, unambiguously pregnant, no matter what I am wearing. People began remarking on it in the elevator and hallway. They are all being very nice, of course, but disconcerting. From here on out I suppose it is an unbroken trajectory of becoming increasingly conspicuous, though, so I should find some way to take advantage of it.
Speaking of what I am wearing, I recently made the mistake of shopping at an actual, real live maternity shop. Not only is the shirt I bought there not really worth the money, the checkout process blew my innocent little mind. The actual transaction took about ninety seconds, but was greatly prolonged by an unexpected procession of promotional inquiries.
Steve was there, too, and nearly choked himself holding back his laughter at my response to this procedure, which started off especially inauspiciously when the clerk took me by surprise with this apparent non sequitur: "Would you like to subscribe to the Baby Einstein club for only $4.99 a month?"
Briskly: "Oh, certainly not."
There was a moment's pause as she digested this and entered my purchase into her computer. Then she proceeded to the next item in her routine, which conveniently was also in the form of a yes or no question, though I suspect few people treat it as one: "Can we get your email address?"
From there I pulled it together a bit and began inserting more polite Thank yous and I'm afraid nots. But it was a long list of suggestions, and the poor clerk dutifully made her way down to the very end though it was transparently evident that I would be taking her up on none of them. Then, having paid, we fled. Sorry, clerk.
Today was not as productive as it might have been, thanks to a two-hour period in the middle of the day when I found myself weeping uncontrollably at my desk.* Rarely have I been so glad that I have an office with a door. The things that got me to that state did not really merit such a watery response, but first I was drizzling and then I was dripping and then I was sobbing idiotically with my forehead on the edge of my desk.
I feel terribly guilty about my failure to be more warm and open to Steve's parents, for one thing. Then some emotionally complicated planning involving different people altogether made me feel very much like a friendless shut-in. It also reminded me of how disappointed I was at my dreary PhD graduation, which was held in a venue so deeply uninspiring that no one who was there could get remotely excited on my behalf. And my diploma got damp. What this has to do with anything other than perversely casting my life as a series of failed celebrations, I do not know.
There was also time, as always, for a stop at Stagnant Career Station, as my sad little pile of job applications was right next to my head.
Oh, it was all very stupid, and not worth getting worked up about. I certainly prefer to be smug and merry, but I was enbleakened by hormones and self-pity. As a result I missed both lunch and the chance to get a pile of grading done. More fool me. When I got home, though, I had a hearty dinner and am now having a very small beer for solace, both of which were good ideas.
Writing all this also made me feel better. My only trouble now is that I don't know how how to wrap it up. Well, that and this stabbing pain in the small of my back and horrible burning sensation across my ribcage, but those hardly count as troubles, do they? More like lively conversation starters.
* Steve: "Two hours? Jesus, baby!"
Me: "Well, off and on."
Steve: "Still, two hours!"
Me: "Off and on!"