Had a primo seat on the bus today, and was enjoying my space and my sports page when I noticed an overweight woman get on. She scanned the bus, saw that there were no seats left, and picked me to stand over and sigh exaggeratedly at. Great.
Normally, I give up my seat as often as the next guy, but I was so comfortable and I had a heavy backpack and was wearing tight shoes. Why am I always the one who gives up his seat? Let that dude over there with the big hair give up his. And something about the woman’s intrinsic grumpiness rubbed me the wrong way—screw her for making me feel guilty—so I ignored her and turned up my iPod. The music sounded good.
A moment later, the Dude Over There With The Big Hair, a guy about my age, stood up, tapped the woman on the shoulder, and gestured grandly toward his seat. I hated him more than her. “Thank you,” the woman said with a warm smile, and eased herself down into the empty seat.
Relief washed over me—not my problem anymore—and I returned to my newspaper. But there was something about the arduous way the woman moved her body that was nagging at me. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but it seemed . . . familiar.
Two songs later, it hit me. The woman wasn’t fat. She wasn’t lazy. She was pregnant. And probably about as far along as Sarah was.
More than anything, I wanted the last ten minutes back so I could be the gentleman, rather than what I have recently begun to fear I am: an urban asshole. I considered talking to the woman about pregnancy, but didn’t know where to start. Besides, she already hated me. Then my legs felt so guilty they decided to stand up even though it was already too late, but that didn’t make sense, so I sat back down and decided to hate myself instead.
After fifteen interminable minutes, I slinked off the bus, at the corner of Shame and Disgrace. I suppose I had known all along, deep down, that the woman wasn’t really obese, and yet, I still didn’t get up. I certainly won’t be telling Sarah about this episode.