Thursday, May 01, 2008

Can I Ask You a Personal Question?

I have come to hate conversations that start with this sentence to the point where I have begun fantasizing about saying “No, you may not” when somebody asks me that. Usually when that question is asked a very inappropriate question is asked very shortly after, and usually a person who asks me that question is not somebody I’d share the answer with anyway.

A few years ago a conversation with a co-worker began with that question. This was a woman I’d only met once prior to her asking that question, and obviously not someone I’d be likely to share the answer with. In that instance she’d asked me if I was pregnant. I said no, and she persisted with “Are you sure?” My mouth hung open as I debated on whether or not I would tell her that Mother Nature herself had just demonstrated I am not pregnant the week before, and then decided that it was too much information to share with a stranger. She concluded the conversation with “Oh, I thought for sure you must be. You look heavier than you did when I saw you in October.” Um, thank you?

Years later Todd’s sister had a baby boy and we traveled to Vermont to welcome the little one into the world. We were in the kitchen at my in-laws house talking to one my sister-in-law’s friends who had also come to see the new baby. After knowing this woman for roughly 13 seconds she turned to me and said “So, when are you and Todd going to have a baby?”

“Well, now that’s a very personal question,” I replied. Which I figured was a nicer way of saying “Listen here you rude cow, that’s none of your damn business.”

She shrugged and said “I suppose it is.” Then she paused for about half a second and said “So, when are you guys going to have a baby?” I muttered something about how we’re trying to decide and immediately left the room, shocked that she would still ask after I put up a barrier like that.

Yesterday I was talking to a dear friend of ours who had just had her second child about a month ago. She was telling me that she’d gotten an infection and had to go on antibiotics to fight it. She’s had to discontinue nursing her son, because of the antibiotics now swimming around in her body. She went on to tell me that people have asked her “So, do you feel guilty about not nursing anymore?”

Since when is it OK to ask a question like that? Since when are pregnant women and mothers open season to personal questions like that? When I hear something like that it just enrages me to the point where I need to sit down and blurt it all out on my blog--now that’s some rage, my friends!

So, Internet, listen up. Here are the rules about personal questions, and other rules related to manners:

1. Do not ever ever EVER ask a woman if she is pregnant. If she is it will become obvious soon enough, or she’ll tell you when she’s ready. (However, whispering your suspicions about the pregnancy to others is perfectly acceptible, as well as making bets on it. Just as long as the woman in question doesn't know until she's the one who's spilled the beans.)

2. Do not ever ask anyone when they are planning on having children. For all you know, that person could be infertile and very sad about it, or they could have just suffered a miscarriage, or maybe the couple is arguing about the right time to have a baby. You just don’t know what’s going on in the couple’s home, and you’re better off not bringing it up.

3. If you see a pregnant woman or a parent with an infant do not touch the woman’s belly or their child unless you know these people and know that it’s OK to do so. It is rude to cross that personal space barrier and touch a stranger’s belly or a stranger’s baby. Keep your hands to yourself until you are invited.

4. Have you heard the expression “Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one?” Well, I have another expression regarding assholes “Just because you have one, doesn’t mean you have to be one.” Keep your opinions and your judgements to yourself unless you are specifically asked for your advice.

Do you have any other rules to add? Post them in your comment now.



Blogger *~*Cece*~* said...

I just can't get over the balls some strangers/aquaintences have!

Not so much of a personal question but a rude comment was made to me. I ran into my ex-boyfriend's SIL at the market when I was shopping w/my kids. We quickly & kindly caught up on the last, then, 9'ish years of our lives. When she asked how I was & if i had a boyfriend I chuckled, caressed my daughter's head and said No boyfriend, Tito & I have been married for a few years now. She said Wow! Really? Huh, I never thought THAT would last!

WTF? Seriously? Its fine if that's your opinion but KEEP IT TO YOURSELF & certainly don't say shit like that in front of MY KIDS about their father! Fricken cow.

Have fun in CA!

May 1, 2008 at 10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Definitely include the rules about nursing mothers, as well. So many people have to inject their own personal beliefs into that VERY touchy subject for no good damned reason whatsoever. They should shut it.

Oh and Cece, I completely agree that it's rude as hell to say that to someone's face. However, I have to share: I was talking to one of my college roommates once a few years back, and in the course of the conversation told him that one of our mutual friends had gotten divorced from the girl he'd been dating when we were all in school.

He paused for a second, and said: "Well, they beat the over/under on that marriage by two years, at least!"

I still think that's one of the funniest things I've ever heard.

May 2, 2008 at 9:47 AM  
Blogger ME said...

I agree 100%, none of those are acceptable questions to ask. I hated it when strangers wanted to touch Pedro when he was a baby. Hello, back off! There are a few comments one should never ask as well: Have you put on weight? Are you two ever planning on getting married?

May 7, 2008 at 9:38 AM  

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