When I was in the ‘That girl looks kind of pregnant but I’m not going to say anything in case I’m wrong’ phase about a month ago, I stopped in Whole Foods on my walk home from work to pick up a few vegetables.
I wanted an orange pepper. But the stock guy was in my way. He was slowly, deliberately pulling bright orange peppers out of his layered stock cart and putting them on the shelves. He didn’t notice me. So I moved closer into his space and said, “Can I grab a pepper?”
He didn’t say anything — he turned away and started to pull out peppers from his cart, studying at least 10 of them carefully, turning them over in his hand, and putting them back.
Finally, just as I was about to lose my patience, he grabbed one, turned to me, smiled big and said in a thick African accent: “The best one for the baby.”
Well, shame on me. I was so surprised that he not only noticed my bump, but was willing to say something about it in such a kind way. I smiled back, thanked him and sheepishly walked away.
A few days later, I stopped into a shoe-repair store to pick up my favorite boots that I had to get re-soled. A Latino man was behind the counter. When I walked up, he said with a big smile: “How are you? How’s the baby?” We chatted a bit, and I was charmed by his openness. Whereas people had started looking down at my mid-section — and away — he had no reservations asking about the baby.
When I told these stories to my friend J., who’s originally from Colombia, he didn’t seem surprised at all. J., of any of the men I know, gets giddy about my pregnant belly and he asks me if he can put his hand on it. He tells me that I should milk my pregnant state (no pun intended) — like, get on the bus and drape my leg on someone’s lap and demand a foot massage. But what he said that surprised me was that even if men in some other cultures may treat the women as if they’re not equals day-to-day — they put pregnant women on pedestals.
I witnessed it firsthand. And I’m not going to lie — I liked it.