Mind if I?

The girls in my knitting group are my Philly friends and my Philly friends are the knitters. They’re mostly one in the same. Sure, I’m closer to some of the knitters than others, but I call them all friends. I also have a few Philly friends outside of the knitting group, but I could probably count them on two hands.

Our knitting group has been meeting every Tuesday for more than 5 1/2 years.  I joined in the fall of 2006, shortly after Tim and I moved to Philly, so they were almost a full year in at that point. When I joined the group, I didn’t yet know how to knit, but a new friend invited me to the group and I was anxious to meet more friends.

The knitting group is full of strong, creative women. We have doctors, lawyers, a designer, an accountant, a musician, a social worker, two who work for the EPA. We’re an eclectic bunch.

Last Tuesday was my week to host. We run a sign-up sheet and each take turns volunteering to host at our house or apartment. The host usually provides a bottle or two of wine and light snacks.  The knitters bring anything they’d like to add: a bag of chips, cheese and crackers, fruit, a bottle of wine.

Monday night I realized we didn’t have anything alcoholic in the house. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal. I’d just pick up a bottle of white and a bottle of red over lunch. But, at 29 weeks and obviously pregnant, I was a little nervous about going to the liquor store (in Pennsylvania the only place to purchase wine is at the state-owned Wine & Spirits stores).


I take a deep breath before opening the door. I’ve come prepared for someone to say something to me and I have a ready response – just because I’m buying it doesn’t mean I’m drinking it.

I quickly make my selection and get in line at the register. No one says anything to me… until I get up to the cashier and she catches sight of my belly.

“Aww. How cute,” she says. “Do you mind if I touch?” She motions toward my stomach and is already coming in.

Too busy worrying about being in a liquor store, I was distracted and caught off guard. “Oh…. sure,” I found myself saying as she put both palms to my belly.

“Some people don’t like it,” she says. “Do you know what you’re having?”

“Yeah.  It’s a girl.”

“She’s small.”

“Well,” I say, not feeling at all small, “I’m not due until August.”

“Still…”  There is a short pause while she scans my bottle of wine.  “Do you have a name picked out?”

I explain that we are still deciding between a few.

“How about Mallory?” she offers.

I am surprised by her directness, but I smile.  “Why? Is that your name?”

“No,” she says. “I just really like that name.”

I almost say something about how I will save the name for her to use, but my instincts tell me to keep my mouth shut.  I can tell she’s a talker and don’t want to get an earful about how she can’t have children or about how she gave her daughter up for adoption when she was younger. I try to avoid the personal.  Instead, I make an off-hand remark about how Mallory is a nice name.  It reminds me of the show Family Ties.

As I walk back to my office, I shake my head in disbelief with a smile on my face.  I had heard about how strangers would offer advice and ask to touch my belly, or worse, touch without asking, but it hadn’t happened to me yet.  Now my first stranger had asked.  At the liquor store of all places.

When I repeated the story to my coworker she said, “Well, at least now you’ll have a good story to tell Mallory when she grows up.”

Now that I think about it, I do kind of like Mallory.  It’s not a name I had considered before, but it’s pretty.  Not too popular.  Hhmm…


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  1. Jennifer Gandin Le’s avatar

    Now that I think about it, I do kind of like Mallory. It’s not a name I had considered before, but it’s pretty. Not too popular. Hhmm…


    I was surprised by how considerate and respectful most strangers were while I was pregnant. I only had two unexpected touches (with no warning), and no requests from strangers. (One touch was so sweet, and from an elderly woman for whom I was holding open a door, that I didn’t mind.)

    I read something in the La Leche League book about unsolicited advice that’s stuck with me. The authors point out that strangers give parenting advice for many reasons, some valid, some annoying, including the feeling that your child is actually theirs. They also point out that, in a way, our children *are* theirs, in that children are the future of society, and strangers can feel surprisingly invested in them.

    Now, this was in the context of children’s behavior or health or habits, not touching a pregnant woman’s belly. Obviously, the child is still in her body at that point, and touching a stranger’s body without their consent is always a no-no.


  2. Helen’s avatar

    The zen view of pregnancy is, it’s all just prep for becoming a parent. Soon, you’ll have little grabby hands pulling at you all the time! But… wow. A cashier. She even had to reach across a counter to get at you.

    I do think there’s something to the communal view of children. People talk to you ALL THE TIME when you have a baby. Thankfully, it’s mostly people telling you how adorable they think she is, or how they think something you’re doing is just great! (Bryan gets this way more than I do. Some old lady talked to him for 5 minutes about how proud she was that he didn’t confine Nora to a gender-stereotyped box, because of her lack of pink clothing/gear that day.) And the ones that are a little more bossy or critical, I just try to think to myself, “I’m sure this advice worked wonders for their babies, and they’re just trying to be helpful.”


  3. Kendra’s avatar

    I love this story.


  4. Heather Jo’s avatar

    I love it, too. Ha ha!



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