Monday, January 11, 2010

Awkward conversations


While on vacation this holiday season on a remote island in the Caribbean, we met a couple as we were waiting for dinner one night. We hit it off and the four of us ended up eating together. Mostly, it was a lot of fun, but then those "pesky questions" people like to ask started to crop up...

Them:
So you're from New York City!

Us:
We are.

[insert much chatter about NYC: shopping, crowds, expense, housing, crowds, shopping, the usual. It's expensive! It's fun! We kind of envy you but really we'd never want to live there, etc.]

Them:
Were you in the city on 9/11?

Us:
[deep inhalation] Yes.

Them:
Wow. That must have been something.

Us:
It was. It was a terrible time.

Them:
Where were you? We mean, exactly? Were you near the World Trade Center?

Us:
We actually find it kind of upsetting to talk about that day.

Them:
Oh! Of course, of course! No problem. Let's talk about something else.

.........

[a few minutes later]

Them:
So how long have you been married?

Us:
Two and a half years.

Them:
And you're in your late thirties?

Us:
Yes.

Them:
So we have to ask...

Us:
[Oh, no. Here it comes.]

Them:
What are your plans for children?

Us:
[Deep inhalation]

Them:
Don't you want them?

Us:
[Thinking: Maybe we can go back to the 9/11 questions?]

Us:
We've been trying.

Them:
Oh. Well, children aren't all they're cracked up to be, anyway.

Mo

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32 comments:

Megan said...

I'm finding my life more separate and unrelatable to other's life experiences lately too.

We've never been able to relate to couples with children.

We are finding it more difficult to relate to couples trying to conceive for two reasons.

1. We've been burnt too many times as others move on with their babies and we are left behind.

2. We are coming to the end of our journey and less enthused about talking about it.

Lately I feel like we don't fit in anywhere. We make people uncomfortable.

sarah said...

Oy...the akwardness jackpot. Too bad you don't get 20K for surviving it!

ks and jd said...

I wish it wasn't the norm to ask about children. And if people would understand body language a bit more.

Lara (NoodleGirl) said...

Why is it so hard for people to understand that if people are in their late 30s/early 40s and do not have children, it means one of two things: 1) they do not want them or 2) they desperately want them and having been having problems conceiving. Either way, none of your business + thanks for making us feel like crap either way. Ugh.

I met this group of people just one year after 9/11 and after they found out that I worked downtown on that fateful day, they grilled me with ooh-ahhh questions like I had just told them I met Madonna. I was actually on a job interview in California and the whole experience turned me off enough than I turned the job offer down. Too much reality TV has desensitized people, I think.

Jem said...

Run, don't walk away from that situation! People are clueless.

The Steadfast Warrior said...

Seriously? I can't believe the last comment. People...

Clio said...

I don't see the last comment as a mean thing. I guess it's always too late for people to realize they trampled over sensitive terrain and then they get very awkward trying to get out without making more of a mess. They normally don't suceed, but at least it seems this couple understood and stopped right there - even if the awkward last comment came out...

Elizabeth said...

Grown-ups aren't all they're cracked up to be either.

SassyIfLady said...

People are nuts. I'm sure they mean well at times, but they are NUTS!

Expectant Duck said...

Awkward for sure, people are ye know WEIRD in general and seek things to talk about (some people like to go on and on about tragedy that they faced etc and therefore would just love to review in detail every time they tried to get pregnant, every time anything tragic every happened in their life).
Its odd to me, but, ye know I think I am the freak.

As for the do you have kids question, we dont tend to get that (or at least I dont tend to get that - maybe I give the horribly infertile vibe or maybe after responding married for 5 years they sorta put it together). Sometimes Mr. Duck gets it, and he answers with we have been trying, or we are expecting but we are keeping it quiet because of all the losses in the past - Mr seems to find that any man that asks has a loss of their own to share....

lastchanceivf said...

People...they're the worst.

OK that's a Seinfeld reference but truly, it sometimes sums it up just so nicely.

Sorry for the awkward convos--I have my share all the time and it truly does sucketh.

Pie said...

Ah, brilliant conversationalists! I'm just shaking my head, 'cause we've all been there and know that awkwardness. Sigh...

Bella said...

Wow, these people were kinda nosey, eh?! I always hate it when people who have kids try to downplay how much their kids mean to them for the infertiles' benefit. It's not even semi-believable. Sucks. ((HUGS))

Gabby said...

oh gosh.. i am so so sorry.. talk abotu awkward.. i NEVER ask anything about kids or trying anymore.. you have no idea what someone's story is at all..

so, maybe you should have asked them.. so, what do ya'll fight about? what is the one thing he does that makes you mad? what is your most traumatizing childhood experience? do you have any ill relatives? perhaps a relative that died recently? ok, i'll stop.

i'm sorry you dealt with that.

TeeJay said...

I almost had that same conversation with a lady over the weekend. Except she told me that I was smart for not having my own children. *sigh* what are we to do in moments like that?

Heather said...

ITA with Lara. There are two reasons why people in their late 30s don't have kids. Either they don't want them or they can't have them the easy way. And as far as I am concerned neither should be up for discussion.
I've been there myself and these conversations suck.

'Murgdan' said...

Gag. Vomit. Puke.

Socializing is so overrated. I do as little of it as possible--sorry to say.

Claudia said...

I agree with Bella. As if somehow, you're going to walk away thinking 'hey, apparently kids aren't that great after all! I'm so glad they shared that with me - I'm not sad any more!'

I think not.

WannabeMommy said...

I hate hate hate having that conversation!

irrationalexuberance said...

oh for fuck's sake... I guess people really just *are* that clueless. Seriously, it's shocking.

meinsideout said...

ugh...that sounds horrid. glad you made i back safely.

Waiting In Sunshine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Waiting In Sunshine said...

See- You know me by now- I just say it like it is. "We have unexplained infertilty and have 10 IVFs, no baby... You?" I actually WELCOME the question bc I can use the moment as a teaching moment. I am the opposite of most infertiles, I know...I was interviewed for a SELF article exactly about this topic, actually (coming out in the a few months, will be on my blog)

Hey- where did you find out it was "De-lurking Week" I want to put it on my blog, too! Also, I have a reader from New South Wales, too! ;)

Sunny

Waiting In Sunshine said...

See- You know me by now- I just say it like it is. "We have unexplained infertilty and have 10 IVFs, no baby... You?" I actually WELCOME the question bc I can use the moment as a teaching moment. I am the opposite of most infertiles, I know...I was interviewed for a SELF article exactly about this topic, actually (coming out in the a few months, will be on my blog)

Hey- where did you find out it was "De-lurking Week" I want to put it on my blog, too! Also, I have a reader from New South Wales, too! ;)

Sunny

My Endo Journey said...

Yeah, I probably would have given them the shock factor toO!!! Like, yeah, see.... and just really gone into it ALL! Then that would teach them to ask personal questions!!!!

Me said...

Yuck!

Kate said...

Ouch. I can't believe they were so insensitive. Really, who's that nosy? I'd have been dying for another drink or ready to dump them and head back to my room!

Dora said...

UGH! Maybe their children aren't all they're cracked up to be, but my hard earned ART child certainly is.

Where's My Stork? said...

I have 2 uncles(one has 4 kids and the other has 3 kids) Before they knew we had been trying for a long time to have kids they would constantly tell me that we shouldnt have them. They would say that we would enjoy our lives so much more....have more money...get to sleep in....and do what we want.

I find that advice pretty ignorant coming from people that have kids.

IF Optimist, then... said...

Gah! What dullards, I mean really. Don't you wish after they said the last comment about kids not being all what they're cracked up to be that you could say, "Oh yeah? I guess you have some really obnoxious kids huh? Do they constantly say rude and insensitive things in public? I wonder where they get it from?"

Anonymous said...

Ah! I hate gossipy people!

Carol said...

I hate gossipy people!

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