As I approach the end of my final pregnancy, I find myself (besides completely exhausted and antsy) thinking about the things I’ll miss about carrying around a baby in my belly. Among the obvious like the squirms and kicks and congratulatory smiles from grandmas and the excuse to eat obnoxiously large quantities of food and the equally wonderful explanation for not having a flat model-quality tummy, are the very fascinating conversations you strike up with complete strangers. And not only that, but the dramatic details they reveal about their own personal experiences and family lives.
I remember this happening from the early days of my first pregnancy. I’d be on the bus or Tube – in London, mind you, where you tend to find that people are tight-lipped and much less inclined to share anything, let alone personal information – and have one of these random chats.
Stranger: “Oh, is this your first baby?”
Me: “Yes, it is!”
Stranger: “Is it a boy or girl?”
Stranger: “Ooooh! Boys are wonderful. I had one boy and one girl. The pregnancy with my son was easier but the delivery! Oh my! He was so big I couldn’t push him out. The doctor had to use every tool imaginable. First…” [ok you don’t want to hear it all. Neither did I. For that matter, neither did those in the seats around us. But suddenly, it was – because I happened to be pregnant – fair game to share these grossly intimate details.]
Often the chats aren’t so horrifying, but simply tend to reveal incredibly personal information that you wouldn’t normally divulge within the first 30 seconds of small chat with a complete stranger.
Just a few nights ago, an early 20-something guy at the bookstore check-out counter started this exchange:
Dude: “Boy or girl?”
Me: “A boy!”
Dude: “First one?”
Me: “Nope, fourth. Fourth boy.”
Dude: “Wow, that’s wild. At least they all boys. I have a sister, and man is she completely whacked. In high school, I’d just want to chill, go fishing, canoe, you know, check out the alligators and otters, just hang out with my friends and be mellow. Her? She was all into drama. She got into so much trouble. Drugs, guys, experimenting with stuff. There was this one time when…” [and here, once again, you don’t need or want to know all the intimate details of why this youngster thought his sister was “whacked” but he went off for about 3 minutes describing his view of how dysfunctional girls are.]
Unpredictable and random conversations... absolutely amazing!