A pregnant pause on the road of life


While getting my hair done for a holiday gathering at a Lake Oswego restaurant, my stylist pointed to the adjacent hairdresser and said, 'She's due on the 28th, so everyone's bringing in Christmas presents for the baby.'

I looked toward the blond woman sympathetically, with her being on her feet all day that far along. But expecting to see a protruding belly, I instead saw a woman carrying her embryo well within her torso, with just a mid-sized bulge along her front.

I flashed back to my distended profile during pregnancy. Starting the seventh month, people thought I was imminently due. My three pregnancies each produced normal-sized babies, and I gained the requisite 25 pounds, yet I looked quite large. Maybe my girth was due to being short, and these babies didn't have anywhere to go except out.

At the time, my job was in an office downtown, and I worked right up until the deliveries. Consequently, I was bombarded with comments from co-workers, some supportive and some incredibly stupid. One guy delighted in delivering a new line each time I passed by. 'Looks like the bun in the oven is ready to be served!' 'What did you do - swallow a basketball?' 'Pretty bad case of gas you got going there.' Jerk.

Besides having no control over how your pregnant body looks, raging hormones amplify your emotions, making for a veritable walking powder keg on prenatal vitamins. Nothing could dissuade these nitwits. Ultimately I wrote the barbs down, figuring a journal of their idiocy would help me diffuse the impact and later recount the comments to the otherwise disbelieving.

If a gold medal were given for the most insulting comment during a pregnancy, it would unquestionably go to the man renting the house next door. As I approached our mailbox, he sauntered up to me. He was a heavy-set man, stuffed into his low-riding, belted jeans like a Pillsbury Doughboy on vacation at a dude ranch. His legs were bowed, not often seen in a suburb like Lake Oswego.

He eyed me up and down. I thought 'uh-oh'.

'Honey,' he said, coming up close, 'I'm a country boy.' He scratched his hairy chest and rolled the toothpick in his teeth. 'Yep - grew up on a farm.' He paused, looking me over once more and finally continued. 'I'd say you're ready to calve.'

Speechless, I managed a crooked smirk before shuffling back into the house, disheartened. This one goes in the front of the journal, I decided.

The son I was carrying that day turns 28 next month, demonstrating how long an insult can stay fresh in one's memory.

I have since traded in my job at the downtown office for the acting profession, and two months ago auditioned for a role in a new show, a musical comedy with a country western bent. I selected a song for the audition that I'd found about a man with the gall to tell his female companion that she's nice and all, but is '15 pounds away from his love.' I instantly knew whom to model the character after. I practiced his bow-legged walk, Southern drawl and the way he looked me over while slowly scratching himself and sharing his worldly views.

I got the part.

Joan Freed is a local actress whose one-woman musical comedy 'Chocolate Confessions' will appear on the Lakewood Theatre mainstage this coming Valentine's Day.