I was pregnant recently. Not actually pregnant, but playing a pregnant woman in a show. Aside from how to construct a somewhat believable costume belly–you can’t just add a pillow, you have to make it look like you’re smuggling a basketball–I discovered other important facts.
For example, if you practice being pregnant by sticking your gut out as far as you can and waddling down Davie St while holding your girlfriend’s hand, she will be embarrassed for some reason. If you say in your loudest voice, “Slow down, honey, the baby and I can’t walk that fast!” she will not find it as funny as you do. These are just a couple of the things I learned about being pregnant.
Another thing is that people are not necessarily nicer to you if you’re pregnant. For example, I was in Value Village trying on maternity clothes–for the show, I remind you, not just for kicks–and I couldn’t be bothered to go in to one of the change rooms so I was just pulling pregnancy outfits on over my own clothes.
There was a mirror right at the end of the aisle in which I was assessing my outfits. There was a big sign overhead that read “Maternity.” I was trying on what were quite clearly maternity clothes. Anyone with half a brain could see I was a) pregnant, and, b) using the mirror. I was also practicing again, this time with a hand on my lower back in addition to the forced-out gut.
First of all, I need to digress for just a second here and ask if anyone knows what the hell is going on with the prices at Value Village. It is cheaper to shop in stores with new clothes! I have become quite convinced that the pricing is being done by a visiting prince from a far-off land who is very rich and has never handled money in his life. He clearly has no concept of currency or how much a pair of old man trousers are actually worth. He just walks about putting random numbers on things and we are expected to consider $35 a fair price for a Sun Run T-shirt. Okay, back to the story.
So, there I am, barefoot and pregnant in the maternity aisle at the Vill, with the exception of the barefoot part, and I’m trying on shirts that say “Shhh, baby sleeping” with an arrow pointing downward and other adorable things like that when this woman just saunters up and takes my mirror. I am always taken aback by rudeness but this time seemed particularly shocking. I stood there thinking, “What is wrong with this woman? Can’t she see I’m pregnant?”
When she finally felt my eyes boring into the back of her head, she turned around and looked back at me. I stood there in a big pink shirt with a Peter Pan collar and flaps that could be folded down for breastfeeding and stared at her incredulously. I tried to convey to her using just my eyes that this hadn’t been an easy pregnancy for me and that now, on top of everything else, in spite of the sad fact that I couldn’t afford to buy my maternity clothes anywhere other than Value Village, she was butting in front of me to use the mirror.
For shame, madam, I tried to exude. For shame.
I think my shaming was effective because she packed up her things and went off in search of another mirror. I stood there thinking about the absolutely disgusting state of humanity these days until I remembered something: I wasn’t pregnant.
As my indignation slowly wore off and was replaced by chagrin–what kind of weirdo pretends to be pregnant in a used clothing store?–I wondered where it had come from in the first place. When I played pregnant I was almost instantly filled with a sense of entitlement with which I don’t usually move through the world. I found myself exchanging smiles with strangers who looked at me like I was doing a great thing and I looked back at them as if to say, “I know.”
I felt a certain sense of approval had been bestowed upon me by society and I was no longer the outsider I’d been all my life. It was fascinating and disturbing all at once.
I wondered how and when this idea had taken such firm but undetected root in my psyche. I wondered how I could purport to be an advocate of adoption and foster parenting to the millions of unloved children already in the world before selfishly creating more, when at some deep, creepy level, I apparently equated breeding with social acceptance and moral superiority. Wow. Weird. This is not something I wanted to know about myself.
I would, however, still like to know what the crap is going on at Value Village.