Wednesday, July 22, 2009

No, I'm actually wearing a basketball up my shirt, but thanks for asking.

Dear Agony Aunt,

I sometimes get the urge to ask strangers and very vague acquaintances if they are pregnant. Is this okay?

Yours truly,

Hapless Dreg.

AA: No.

HD: What if they really look pregnant?

AA: No.

HD: What if I like babies?

AA: No.

What if I am / have ever been pregnant, and want to compare notes?

AA: Not even then.

HD: What if I’m really, really curious and just can’t contain myself?



I seem to be a magnet for these kinds of people, so here is the etiquette of such situations: DON’T. Restrain yourself. If this person plays any role in your life, and is indeed pregnant, you will find out in due course.

If you hardly know them, then it is none of your freaking business.

Here are some reasons why it is a BAD, BAD IDEA to directly or indirectly ask someone about their ‘pregnancy’:

· Unless your eyes have ultrasound beams, it stands to reason that THEY MAY NOT ACTUALLY BE PREGNANT, in which case you have essentially just said, “Excuse, me, but I can’t help but notice that you are weirdly out of proportion, or possibly just fat. Tell me, while I stare at your stomach, why is that so?”

The above reason neatly sums up my own personal situation, but just for kicks, here are some others I can think of.

They are pregnant, but:

  • It was unplanned and they haven’t decided how to proceed, or are still coming to terms with it.

  • They have a history of miscarriages / complicated pregnancies, and don’t want to announce the news until the pregnancy is more advanced.

  • They haven’t told important people in their life yet.

  • They are in a position where they might be discriminated against or thought differently of because of pregnancy – maybe they have a lousy boss, or maybe their culture disapproves of unwed mothers and sex before marriage.

  • They don’t want to discuss their private life with you.

Alternatively, they are not pregnant, but:

  • They want to be, and being asked if they are (when they are not) is really awkward.
  • They have a medical condition that they don't want to discuss.

  • They intend to remain child-free, and resent being asked, as if it is inevitable that all women want babies or something.

  • Maybe they feel self conscious about their body shape, in which case being compared to a pregnant person really doesn't help things.

In any case, it is a really, really bad idea to ask. I am amazed that so many people feel it is okay to ask this question – always women, always people who don’t actually know me very well or play any important role in my life. To them, I say: Go and live in a cave until you acquire some social skills.