To Kathy, Patron Saint of Pretenders
Let’s say you find out you’re pregnant three days before a business trip that’s been anticipated by you and your coworkers for a while now for several reasons, one being that it’s the annual chance to let the collective office hair down and enjoy each other’s company in a social, relaxed setting where no one is asking anyone else for anything except for maybe to pass the crab cakes. So there has been a lot of talking about this trip, and how much fun it will be, and what a bummer it is for the (visibly) pregnant one in the office because she’ll have to endure all our tipsy, stupid, not-really-funny jokes while sipping her Sprite with a cherry in it.
In any other circumstances, there’s no way you’d announce your pregnancy to your coworkers three days-post pee test, and yet not telling them means you need to figure out a way to let your hair down as normally as possible; i.e. you’re gonna have to fake drink.
At least, this was the brilliant plan I came up with in the short window of time I had to figure out what the hell I was going to do so as not to call attention to myself with a bunch of “Oh, no, just water for me,” or “Nah, I think I’ll turn in early tonight–you guys have fun!” The thing is, those excuses might work for someone with a different personality than me, but I love to hang out with people, and I also drink alcohol and have never led anyone in my office to believe otherwise, so not doing so when the drinks were paid for by someone else and a clear part of the fun would have been weird.
It seemed so ridiculous to be contemplating such a plan, because surely it had been part of a bad rom-com plot, right? And I’m sure if it had, it totally didn’t work. But I honestly couldn’t think of another plan besides announcing to my coworkers that I was oh, I don’t know, four weeks pregnant? I just didn’t want to do it. So half-baked ruse it was!
There were several things to consider: one, should I tell one person, and have them be my wingman? This seemed like a good plan, because then they could order my drink for me sometimes or just have my back in sticky situations, but ultimately I just felt like it was too soon to be talking about it to anyone (the only people in the world who knew at this point were me, L, and my one friend I tell this kind of stuff to right after it happens. In fact, I think she was second after L to find out I was pregnant with all three (THREE OMG) of my kids, so naturally I had to have her to text a play-by-play to.) Two, how was I going to do this? There were a thousand different scenarios I could picture happening when it came to ordering and consuming drinks, and there was just no way I was going to be able to plan for all of them, so I thought of some rudimentary tactics and decided to just wing it when I got to each situation and leave it to chance and my stellar lying acting skills.
The night we flew in I was off the hook, because I actually split from the group (which was pre-planned) to go visit my college roommate in her new digs in Louisville, which I had been looking very much forward to anyway, but was immensely grateful for for other reasons once I realized it was saving me one night of deception. Then after our day scouting and ogling miles of baby gear I steeled myself for the first real test: dinner. Luckily, the restaurant was large, and we sat at a table that was far away from the bathroom (this was a fact I scouted out when we first walked in). Everyone chatted about what they were going to order, while I frantically (in my mind—on the outside I was COOL AS CUCUMBER GRASSHOPPAH) tried to figure out when I could pull the waitress aside and then what I would order that would look like an alcoholic drink. Once the waitress came, I could tell immediately that she was going to have my back. She was one of those salty, been a waitress for 15 years types who was tough as nails but kind at the core, you know what I mean? This, anyway, was what I decided I needed her to be, so I may have projected a little. After she handed us menus, I recognized a mixed drink that was meant to look like iced tea (not a Long Island, but something similar, with a more Kentucky flair). There it was: THE PLAN. I excused myself to go to the bathroom, and then walked to the back of the restaurant and waited for the waitress outside the kitchen. Like a crazy pregnant stalker. I caught her just as she was coming out and said, “Hey! Um, so, I have a weird request for you.” To which she replied, “Honey, I’ve probably heard it.” (This is when I thought: this is totally going to work.) And then I explained, “So, the thing is, I’m pregnant. And the people I’m sitting with are my coworkers, and they don’t know I’m pregnant, because I only just found out. But it would look really strange if I didn’t order an alcoholic drink, so I’m wondering if when I order the Mason Dixie you could just bring me a straight up iced tea instead?” She didn’t even bat an eyelash and patting me on the arm said “You just leave it to me.” And then she rocked it out at the table five minutes later as if we’d never spoken a word to each other. That woman should win an Oscar.
Then it was on to the bars! Which I would write about now but I am at the end of day two of stay-at-home-with-sick-kid, will-probably-have-to-stay-home-again-tomorrow, husband-is-flying-out-of-town-tomorrow-night, save-me-sweet-baby-Jesus and so I must go and watch mindless television before I collapse into my (currently sheetless, I’m just now remembering, dammit!) bed.
To be continued …