** Memoir Monday is a weekly series that features pieces of Katie's memoir-in-progress that covers her first pregnancy. Click here to see past entries. **
|"I deserved a heaping bowl of pasta"|
After delivering a bill to a large party of Brits, a woman exclaimed: “My goodness! Do you have a bun in the oven?” To which I was desperately tempted to answer “No. I just ate a basketball.” The whole table exploded in cheers when I nodded my head in affirmation. They had tapped our keg of Foster’s.
“You’ll be a terrific Mum!”
Well, if intoxicated strangers believed that, then there had to be a shred of truth in there somewhere.
I had a small group of friends at the restaurant and then was amiable to the rest. Some shifts Jason was there. He avoided me at all costs. Most days I was thankful for that fact. Between working two jobs and sharing every moment of the pregnancy with two sets of colleagues, strangers I met in line at the gas station and my family via text messages and phone calls after 9 p.m. and on weekends – I was all out of love in the sharing department. I had no energy for him. I had a negative amount of energy in regards to chasing him down and making him help me, pay for baby things or care.
This particular Tuesday night was busy until about 8p.m. I was happy with the amount of money I had made. My feet were killing me and I hoped to stay at least slightly busy a little longer as a distraction from the throbbing in my tootsies.
That was when I met Julian. He walked in and sat at a two-top booth in my section. He looked a few years older than me and was dressed like he’d just left the office. I discovered as I made small talk that he was in town for a few days attending a business conference. He was staying near the restaurant and had come in for a quick dinner, courtesy of his platinum business American Express. As it turns out, he was staying within walking distance of where my apartment was located – a detail I kept to myself but mentally noted. He stuck around after his meal and drank a few beers slowly. He asked me about my accent and guessed correctly that I was from the Chicago area. He asked if I had moved to Florida with my husband. He seemed pleased when I declared myself single. I couldn’t tell if he was just a natural flirt or into me. Since every single person I usually encountered was aware of my condition, I hadn’t been hit on since Jason bought me Jaeger bombs the night of conception.
Did Julian know I was pregnant? Surely he could tell. Right?
I felt funny. I knew I should be flattered. I was attracted to Julian. I was available as far as dating was concerned. But I just felt funny. I had come to terms with the fact that I was un-dateable for the next four or five months, at least. Dating was an idea that usually made me nauseous in my current state. I could feel my stomach churning, ever so slightly.
When Julian found out that I was off work at the restaurant the next night, he asked me to go to dinner with him. I said I may have an assignment with the newspaper (lie) but to give me a call the next day when he got out of his conference. He paid his bill and tipped me about 22 percent. Not so high that I would be suspicious of his intentions but just enough to know that he was the kind of guy who tipped well.
“Dang girl. He liked you,” remarked a fellow co-worker who had been watching us from an alcove near the kitchen.
“You think? Nah. He was just being nice.”
“He was staring at you wherever you went. Drinking his beers really slow. Just waiting for you to come back and talk to him," she said with the full enthusiasm of a person who is entirely too bored and just waiting for the manager to count how many rolls of silverware she had finished and give her the "okay" to leave.
“Isn’t that sort of creepy?”
“Maybe. But he’s smokin’ hot. You should get on that.”
“He lives in Washington state or something. He’s just in town for a conference.”
“Even better. When’s the last time you got some?”
I was almost embarrassed to answer that. Her eyes got wide.
“Are you kidding me? THAT was the last time?? Oh no no no no.”
“Terry! I’m six months with child! I haven’t exactly been out trolling the night clubs for penis.”
“Does he know that you are pregnant?”
“I’m not sure. I didn’t tell him. But it’s sort of obvious.”
“Well either he didn’t notice, and you don’t have to tell him, or he’s into that sort of thing." Neither option was especially attractive. "Are you going to call him?”
“He has my number. Wants to go to dinner. We’ll see.”
I worked a normal office shift at the newspaper the next morning. I had Julian on my mind. Maybe my steak house colleague was correct. I could go to dinner. Maybe even make out a little. He wouldn’t have to know about my baby. Or, I could come clean to him about it on the phone and let him decide if he still wanted to buy me pasta. If he was horrified, then my dilemma would solve itself. The thought of a dinner involving a table, no sweat pants and a nice guy who didn’t know the torrid details of the past seven months of my life sounded almost too good to pass up though. Everything in my life had become one big blur of delivering brown loaf of bread after brown loaf of bread to hungry tourists on swollen ankles after an eight-hour day answering phones in a newsroom. I deserved a heaping bowl of pasta. And maybe a second bowl for the road.
I decided to run the whole situation by a few of my newspaper colleagues. One was married. Two were divorced. They were all at least ten years older than me and I hoped this meant that the chances they would ask me about the level of my horniness were slim.
“How could he not notice you’re pregnant? Your belly is proportionately larger than the rest of you,” said one of them, very confused.
“Yeah, but between my over sized restaurant shirt and the apron around my waist… and it’s dim in there. Maybe he could tell. Just saying that there is a chance that he couldn’t.”
“Don’t tell him. I wouldn’t. Just wear something that’s not obvious and enjoy yourself.”
“When does he leave town?”
“Two days, I think?”
“Oh that’s perfect. He obviously likes you Katie. Just go. And don’t go out of your way to tell him about the baby. If he figures it out, okay.”
So the general consensus of the professional opinions was to go to dinner and keep my mouth shut. Now I was nervous. First dates are nerve-wracking by nature. Add a six-month pregnant girl actively trying to keep a secret alien being under her blouse and it’s downright jarring.
Julian called when I was driving home from work. I decided I’d let him leave a message – possibly pointing out the fact that he knew I was pregnant and wanted my company for dinner anyway. Instead he said “Hey it’s Julian. From the restaurant. Call me back.”
I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t call back. What sort of crazy person goes on a date with a stranger from Oregon or wherever with a little girl with visible fingers and toes taking a snooze in her pouch? Plus there was the risk of him figuring out a fact he had overlooked after a few beers the night before and me being humiliated. Nope. Looked like it was just going to be me, my couch, my sweat pants and a can of alphabet soup tonight.
I’d call him back of course. In a few hours. Tell him I got held up at work and it was nice to meet him just the same.
About a week later when I received a friend request from him via MySpace, I hesitated. I had belly pics all over my page and a pregnancy countdown. He was safely back on the west coast so it didn’t really matter at this point. Before I confirmed his request, I sent him a brief message explaining that I was having a baby in May. He wrote me back later that day.
“Hey Katie. I knew that you were pregnant. Just figured there must not be a guy around since you gave me your number. Wish you would have gone to dinner with me. Take care. – J”