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Tuesday, June 09, 2015

The train, the lie and the 12-month gestation

Children, it is never right to lie. Even if you think you are being kind or diplomatic, do not lie. You should always find a third option that allows you to soften the blow while telling the truth.

For example:
'Does my bum look big in this?' There are three options from which to choose.

1) No, not at all (lie)
2) Your bum looks massive no matter what you wear. It's like the Pillsbury Dough Boy is wrestling with a hippo inside those jeans. (Truth)
3) Sweetie I was so busy looking at how your eyes sparkle and that colour makes your skin glow to even notice your lovely bum. (Third way).

And again: 'Meet my new baby!'

1) Oh what a beautiful baby! (Lie)
2) Ye gods what is that wretched thing? Why have you replaced your baby with a sack of red onions? No, really, where are you hiding him? What a prankster! (Truth)
3) Oh look at those little feet! And such little hands! (Third way)

Some mother will see this photo and realise her friends put it on the 'Ugly Babies' section of Buzzfeed

Nota Bene: when opting for the third way, avoid all pronouns. Parents tend to be offended if you think their girl is a boy and vice-versa, while 'it' just means 'I have no idea what gender your ugly little sprog is'.

These third way options are always there, but it is not always easy to think off the top of your head. I suggest keeping a few memorised in the event that you will need a third-way comment, so you can be ready when next presented with Sloth Junior.

All this is preface to a situation in which I once found myself, which led to a series of ever-increasingly uncomfortable lies. Actually, there were two such situations, and both were caused by my tendency to bloat drastically when 'sitting upon the household gods'.
Yesss... it. Look at it. LOOK AT IT.

The first situation was when I was feeling painfully bloated at an investment dinner I had to attend. I was kitted out in a (thankfully) flowy dress that hid my stomach (mostly) but boy did I need to unleash the Mistral of Doom. While contemplating my route to the bathroom, an old acquaintance came bounding up to me like a joyous puppy in a park.

He was so chuffed to meet a friendly face that we ended up talking for a while. I had just gotten engaged, and my friend was super-happy at the news, so wanted details. All the while, my stomach pain was increasing.

A waiter came up to offer champagne and I refused, as I do not drink at any work functions. At the same time, my friend said 'are you not drinking?' I put my hand on my distended belly, opened my mouth to say 'well actually I am feeling so bloated', but I could only manage 'well actually'. He saw my hand, my belly and, joining the dots with my refusal of alcohol, immediately gave me a massive hug.

'Congratulations! You're not telling people yet, are you? Do not worry, I won't tell anyone. I am so happy for you!'

I was dumbstruck. All I could muster was 'please don't tell anyone' as I watched him beam an enormous smile at me. Even if I could have disenchanted this happy wretch, I had no time to do so, for another acquaintance bowled up and started a conversation.

To this day, I have not seen him or been in contact with him to tell him the truth. Hopefully he reads my blog.

You would have thought then, that once bitten by a fake pregnancy lie, the Mermaid would be twice as cautious not to let this get out of hand again.

That would have been the sensible thing to do.

But no. A year after marriage, I had put on a couple of stone, which made occasional bloating a more serious embarrassment. On three occasions in one week, people stood up for me on the train. On the third occasion, I even shoved my belly into someone’s face to make him stand up. Yes I did that. I am not proud of that. It was crowded!

OK, OK, it was not THAT crowded. But still...
Perhaps that is why the fourth occasion that week proved to be a salutary lesson in honesty.

It transpired thus.

I was on a crowded train, I was bloating badly and had terrible cramps. The bulge, and my obvious discomfort spoke for me, and a young woman stood up for me. Not wishing to embarrass her or me by saying 'it's okay, I'm just TOMming', not to mention that one does not declare these things on a train, I thanked her and sat down.

A few stops later, a very pregnant woman got on and, as I was sitting nearest to her, I offered her my seat. The young woman who had given her seat up for me shot me a glance, so I thought I would be diplomatic.

In other words, I lied. 'You need it more than I do', I said to the preggo, and smiled. Unfortunately for me, another young woman seated next to preggo heard and she stood up for me. Why did I tell a half truth? A half truth is still a whole lie... I had no choice but to smile and sit down next to preggo.

And Ms Preggo was a talker. She wanted to know everything about my 'early stage' pregnancy. She threw me a bunch of acronyms such as DPO and WPC; thankfully I subscribe to MumsNet for work purposes and knew what these meant. She asked me about symptoms. I had to blag. By which, I mean lie. A small lie turned into a series of bigger and bigger ones. “Large fleas have small fleas upon their backs to bite them. And small fleas have smaller yet, and so ad infinitum”. And that’s what was biting me, except the smallest lie had bigger ones ad infinitum trying to take a chunk out of my soul.

It was awkward as, and I reverted to pounding her with questions about her DB and DD. All went well until just before we pulled into my station. In the slowness and quiet fullness of the commuting carriage, she asked me 'so, when is your due date?'

I had not expected this. It was December so I said August. Which would have been fine if I had only just conceived that very morning, and a cytoblast or plastoblast or photonblaster or whatever it is called, was zigging its zygotey way across my fallopes and burrowing into my uterus.

Except I had already 'said' I was pregnant, which would mean I was at least a month, maybe two months, gone. So the due date would have been June. Add to this the swollen bloat of my belly which suggested at least three months, and well, we were looking at a total gestation period of maybe 12 months.

My mind was trying to extricate me from the situation more quickly than my mouth could work, and I managed to fumble my way around a conversation, hoping that lovely Ms Preggo had what my mummy friends call ‘pregnancy brain’ and I would not see her on the train again.

I haven't, but I still get nervous when I see similar-looking women on the train. If I should see her, the truth must be told, but while a man might think this was hilarious, I have learned that the MumsNet Brigade is not so forgiving. Mothers do not forgive so easily some woman scamming a seat pretending to be pregnant.

Since then I have lost a little weight and thankfully nobody stands up for me even when the household gods are beneath me. But one day when I am sporting a 'Baby on Board' badge and need to cadge a seat, be sure my sins will catch up with me.

Children, do not lie.


Trubes said...

Hi Mermy,
I had a jolly good chuckle at your flatulence problem and the assumed pregnancy... very funny.
I remember you being highly amused when I wrote of the 'One legged flatulent lady@ and my dear Mama, apologising for her colostomy bag farting, when in fact it was the OLFL.... glad you're back, I still post as Trubes and am a feature writer on ABC Wednesday, which is good because it makes me write something every week.
How is 'Old Tarf' doing, he's keeping quite a low profile!
Love Di xx

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make good slave sleep under stairs
no problems