Disclaimer: I am not pregnant (thank my stars. Repeat: thank my lucky stars). But I am loving Marta’s stuff, so I’ve crafted this based on the insights of friends who are avec bébé, or are now mamas. Some of it may be common sense, which as we all know, is not common at all…

First up: if you think someone is pregnant, don’t congratulate them, or ask them when they are due. Only proceed if you KNOW they are pregnant. How embarrassing (for everyone) if they aren’t expecting.

Do you like strangers or distant acquaintances touching you? Specifically, your belly? Me neither. And this inclination doesn’t change when you get knocked up. Baby bumps are cool, fascinating things, but don’t go racing in to feel junior kick unless it is ok with the person hosting said bump.

And natch, open doors, give up your seat, offer your place in line for the ladies room – they are carrying precious cargo, don’t you know?

Think of it as bestowing good decorum before the pricks of the world have a chance to jade them into ill-mannered heathens.

(First published on She Does The City, August 2009)

Questionable questions

The most charming and engaging conversation can be put to a grinding halt when someone makes an inappropriate query. Special friends in special situations (i.e. private) can ask these ‘get your back up’ questions, but they do not belong in casual cocktail banter.

So where are these precarious lines drawn? Any question with potentially loaded answer should be avoided or softened. Marriage, babies, weight, relationship satisfaction and money are all potential hot topics.

Couples living together for years are commonly bombarded by people asking when they will tie the knot, often in very public and very awkward settings. If you too get the ask, diplomatically respond by leaning in close, to show the intimacy the subject deserves, and say, “you know, we get that question so often and it never gets easier to respond. I’m sure you can understand.”

From there, the awkwardness graduates to questions about plans to have babies. It’s probably the most personal question to can ask someone, moreover, with the most emotionally-laden responses lingering below a polite smile. You know the friends that you can have this conversation with (please, have it in private, of course).

If you’re on the receiving end of this question, answer it without really answering it. Wishy-washy responses like “it’s amazing how many people are concerned about us procreating. It’s nice to feel wanted” work, as does brazenly changing the subject like “errrr….great shoes”.
If you’re feeling saucy and are out to prove a point, you can also respond by declaring that you don’t want to wreck your figure or drop the bomb that your partner is impotent. Use at your supreme discretion.

(First published on She Does The City, May 2008)

Jet set

Seven flights in 12 days…..I feel like a gypsy living out of a suitcase and eating out of takeout containers. Although I love travelling, for me the confines of airports and planes put a magnifying glass on how people treat others.

Take, for instance, the gentleman that sat in front of me on flight #3. Once he finished inhaling his tin-topped dinner, he wanted to settle in for a nap. So, he clicked the button on the armrest to go into full recline mode and promptly send my tray (attached to the back of his seat) straight into my chest. Snaps to the flight attendant for tersely addressing that. I ate the rest of my chicken devan and mashed potatoes in perfect peace after she laced him out.

I also get my knickers in a knot when people treat the plane like it’s a lounge – you know that kind. They perch in the aisle as soon as that little seatbelt light goes out, they walk around to chit chat and look irritated when the flight crew is trying to manoeuvre the massive drink cart around them.

My biggest vent is also one that I’m a bit sheepish to admit. I’m not the most confident flyer (a bit of an understatement). So that last thing I want to hear is how freaked out other people are. Man up and keep it to yourself. Chicken flyers feed off the anxiety of other chicken flyers so by sharing your own fears, it throws gas on the proverbial fire of nerves.

When flying from Toronto to Cozumel (flight #1), the row behind me was a group of friends, likely in their early 40’s. They had a lively banter all through take off and ascent on how shaky the plane felt and “is this thing going to make it up”. I completely lost it and started quietly sobbing in my seat whilst cutting the circulation from my husband’s arm (seriously, I was one step from sucking my thumb in an effort to self soothe). An innocent girl a few seats over from me also caught the dialogue and I watched her eyes go wide with terror. I felt bad for her, but was too absorbed in my own panic to give her a reassuring glance.

Speaking of innocent children, on flight #3, I was sandwiched between my husband and a boy about ten years old. It was a late flight and most people dozed off, myself and said boy included. When I woke up, he had some how sandwiched himself through the armrest and was half sleeping on me. He also managed to snag a piece of the blanket I had over me. I wasn’t annoyed though. He was super cute. He even offered me some of his Pizza Pringles once we landed. Now that’s a gentleman in the making.

(First published on She Does The City, May 2008)

Damaged goods

Remember the episode of Sex and the City when Carrie’s shoes get mixed up at a party, and her married mommy friend that hosted doesn’t feel it’s her responsibility to replace them?

What if you host a get-together and an item goes missing? Manolos or not, I think hosts carry a certain level of accountability to their guests. Whether its a baby barfing on a cashmere sweater that needs to go to the cleaner or a well-meaning puppy making a chew-toy out of a stiletto, a host is liable (literally and figuratively) for her guests well-being – and her stuff.

The key here is avoidance.

Have a safe place to store coats and shoes when guests come around. If you have a curious pet, keep it away from anything they might be apt to explore. And if your cat hairballs (is that a verb?) on a purse, or a friend snags a delicate garment on your stairwell, offer to clean, mend or replace it – at her convenience, and her choice of where and how.

If cost is a consideration, heaven forbid we are indeed talking Manolos here, this is not the time to try and talk her down to less expensive alternative.

Enjoy the top-notch retail experience and put your friendship before your wallet.
I know. Love hurts.

(First published on She Does The City, March 2008)