Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"In your condition"

The seats are all taken. I stand next to TCO, both of us clutching the hand rail. Through the front window we see old ladies leaving the Shuk with their shopping trolleys and cutting in front of the traffic. The bus crawls along Aggripas street, the driver trying not to run over any of the old ladies.

Now before I continue, I better clarify one thing. I'm skinny. That's my body build, and even 6 months of no exercise hasn't changed that. We're on our way back from a lunch date, so I'm wearing a new tunic top from my TJmaxx spree in the US, My shoes and hat also match, and I'm feeling pretty fashionable.

Then a middle aged woman makes eye contact with me. She's sitting in a single seat by the door. She asks me I want to take her chair. I shake my head.

"I'm fine." I say. I wonder why she's asking. She's older than me by at least two decades.

She stands up, and gestures to her seat
"Maybe she's getting off the bus as this stop." I think.

I move down the aisle to right beside her. As she stands up, I'm ready to take her place. Then a man blocks me. "I was here first." He says loudly. Heads turn in our direction.

"Then I'll stay here." The woman says. "I wanted her to sit, in her condition."

They both look at me.

In my what?

I have a millisecond to act. I don't feel like announcing to the entire crowded busload of passengers that I'm not pregnant. Sitting down seems the easy way out. I do it instinctively, without thinking.

So she stands. And I sit.

Hopefully she'll get off at the next stop, and then I won't feel so bad.
She doesn't.

She continues standing, by the door. Does she notice now that my stomach's flat?
I clutch my stomach, covering it up. Pretending the phantom baby is kicking now. My one mission is for the overly kind stranger not to find out that I'm a fraudulent pregnant woman.

"Do you have stomache ache?" TCO asks, from where he's standing next to me. He somehow missed the previous dialogue.

It takes 15 minutes and 3 bus stops of guilt before the good Samaritan finally gets of the bus.

I've learned my lesson. Wearing a tunic top carries consequences.

Meanwhile my friend from Kiryat Sefer shared horrific tales of daily commuting by bus, with morning sickness, in her first trimester when she wasn't obviously "showing" yet, and standing throughout the ride, no one offering their seat. She threw up every day, as soon as she reached solid ground again.

You can’t win.


  1. Hi I like to troll your blog-been doing that for a year now-welcome back to the blogosphere. Anyways, there's an unspoken rule that I discovered after I got married: you can't wear anything that is babydoll style or a tunic-loose and big style if you are married and not pregnant. Only single girls get away with that because it's assumed that they are not pregnant!! The only way you can get away with it is if you wear a belt-then there won't be any misunderstandings!!

  2. This is an interesting, yet different perspective of the burdensome "so, nu? pregnant yet?" mantra that many young couples face. A teacher once told me that public embarrassment is a good kapara, as Chazal say that embarrassing a person in public is tantamount to killing him. Thinking about it from that angle may make it seem not so dreadful. Either way, sorry you had to go through that awkwardness!

  3. That's why I am anti-tunic. It's great as maternity wear, but otherwise it adds weight to otherwise svelte frames.

    Fashion law: don't add volume where one doesn't have anything to hide.

  4. Your post reminds me of this girl who asked on facebook what is the proper etiquette when you're on the subway and you see someone whom you think might be pregnant, do you get up and offer your seat at the risk of offending them???

  5. Whenever I've tried to give my seat to someone (elderly, pregnant, etc.) they look at me like I'm crazy. So I don't offer anymore.

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  7. Please keep writing!