During my last ultrasound a few days ago, the doctor pointed out that our baby has tripled in size the past three weeks which effect can readily be discerned on my belly. In full disclosure, I should point out that I am not a large person (belly excluded). I was 5'1'', 105 pounds before my pregnancy and my exponentially increasing belly, which is conquering all space surrounding it, may appear quite incongruous. It is perhaps why strangers not only are apparently impelled to comment but provide me with what they believe is sage advice. A case in point - my husband and I went hiking around Nova Scotia and Newfoundland a week ago (it was amazing!) and before one flimsy inaptly named "hike", which had the gradient of Manhattan and a distance composed of far less steps than a newly recovering patient from a hip replacement is directed to take daily by a doctor, a concerned middle aged lady advised me that if I were in my last month (at barely five months!) I should think better of it as I would surely "pop." Pop I did, although it was my temper and not my belly that exploded, my husband rushing me away into the woods before my tempest clouded our good samaritan.
While I have had the pleasure of receiving such concerned and sage comments for a few weeks, resulting in my rant a couple of weeks ago, a new development, which has solely involved the male sex, seem to be shout outs as I pass men on the street. A man nudged me yesterday and shouted to my increasing ire and embarrassment as I walked into my usual lunch place from my office, "well, I see somebody had sex!" - thus dispelling the illusion to all and sundry, despite my attempt at the most seraphic pose, that I could be carrying the son of God and therefore should not have to wait in line (although of course I would humbly desist from such advancement, at least not on the first request). I've also had quite a number of men shout at me as I walk by that I am carrying a boy (which I am, but that's for another blog, albeit I've just given away the climax) and when I respond, as I am sometimes wont to do, out of sheer confusion that a stranger has intruded upon my thoughts to guess my son's sex, they exclaim congratulations, usually expressed in the phrase "aaaaall riiiight", as I muse over what differing reaction I must have received had I been carrying chromosomes of the XX variety.
While I am at a loss to describe the impetus for the phenomenon of these stranger shout outs, I would wager that the social current that drifts us to this conclusion is undoubtedly the historical patriarchy which conquered the initial matrilineal societies of our first ancestors so we became, as Simone has well said, "the second sex."
This undercurrent can be perceived by male strangers and friends and family alike displaying a trademark smirk as if my son is already welcomed by an exclusive club, one of the newest members of an ever growing and closely allied fraternity. Women on the other hand, don't display the same territorial instinct and I could not imagine women giving each other high fives on finding out a new female was born, although that could very well be because we know that the greater burden in the biological stakes would fall upon her.
Interestingly, as noticeable as I am when I walk on the street, I seem to have the Clark Kent effect when I get on the subway. So much so, that one man even pushed past me to grab a newly opened seat before me. When he looked up at me standing there and saw my protruding belly, his face contorted into a guilty expression as I continued to hold his gaze with as much reprimand I could muster (who taught you manners, really?) until he looked down in shame - remorseful, but insufficiently enough to actually relieve his seat to me. Is it just New York? At least I can teach my son, as my husband would too, to stand up for a belly in need.