Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Is she, or isn't she?

She wasn't old and bent.
She wasn't blind.
The thing is, I couldn't really decide if she was pregnant.

If there's one thing I've learnt in my various male capacities (son, boyfriend, colleague etc) it's this: Never - not unless you see a fetus emerging from her lions, umbilical cord still attached and covered in afterbirth – never, ever imply a lady is pregnant. Even if it's to offer her a seat on the train.

At that moment, the only thing I could say is she looked large-ish.
And I wasn't alone.

There was a guy opposite me reading his papers, and a girl messaging someone on her cellphone. The three of us looked at each other in this triangulated crossfire of uncertainty. Because nobody wanted to be the one who got it wrong about this lady's physical condition (pregnant, or just wide and badly dressed?). It was way too early in the a.m. and way too crowded to be adding insult (hers) to serious injury (possibly ours).

After two stops, the girl looked down and tried to ignore Large Lady (look I gottta call her something ok?) the way we try and pretend we don't see the assorted homeless begging for change. That left Newspaper Guy and me.

One more stop passes and I decide to bite the bullet. I begin the rise when Newspaper Guy leaps up from his seat and offers it to Large Lady. I try to descend gracefully from my aborted launch, all the while looking to see if Large Lady will accept or give him the look of death.

She accepts. Everyone's visibly relieved. A few smile polite, approving smiles.

And then I see him.
Newspaper Guy.
Standing in the corner, looking all smug, his eyes saying "I beat you."

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