Saturday, March 26, 2005

On Babies and Butting In

The other day I was talking to a wonderful friend of mine who had her first baby last year. She’s a fun, practical no-nonsense professional who loves her daughter and husband, but also loves her career. (She’s an MBA and marketing director.) We were talking about those women – you know them – the ones who feel they have the right to judge everything you do as a mother. So, my normally very polite, very considerate friend zinged one the other day. She’s not as snarky as I am, so I was surprised, but also very proud when she met her latest “helpy-helperton”. The woman was a stranger but a friend of a friend. They all ran into each other at Target. My friend had her 9-month-old daughter with her. They were all catching up about jobs and working and kids and the stranger says “You work?!”

Um, yes, my friend replies. “Well, why did you have children?” (It’s a common implication in the Midwest. If you work, it’s a scandal to not stay at home with your kids all day.) My friend without missing a beat says, “Oh, for the tax deduction, of course.”

All conversation stopped cold while her friend and the “friend” made a hasty departure. (In her defense, she says “Hey, 10 minutes before a clerk at Target had leaned over my daughter and said “Well, Hello! Aren’t you fat!”)

I didn’t realize my ordinarily very polite friend had such a penchant for snappy comebacks. She says that once while she was pregnant, she ordered a diet Coke at a popular pizza place. Regulars know that their diet Coke is caffeine free. After she ordered her drink, a random stranger at the counter leans over and says “should you be ordering all that caffeine?” “Oh, it’s OK”, said my friend. “It really helps my hangover.”

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