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I killed chivalry

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This morning, this guy got up and offered me his seat on the subway.

That never happens. Truly, never. When I was pregnant with my twins, I remember having to foist my Bosu-ball sized belly into the face of the seated (who were pretending not to see my obscenely protrusive abdomen) and threaten to vomit on them in order to take a load off. As you might imagine, I was not at all shy about asking– just shocked at how often I had to.

So today, when the guy offered me his seat (without my asking) I said thanks and wedged myself in between the other two passengers. My emotions went in succession as follows:

1. surprised

2. pleased

3. grateful

4. completely horrified.

He must think I’m pregnant, I thought. Should I tell him I’m not? But what if he didn’t think I was and was just being nice? No way. Who the f**k is nice?  He thinks I’m PREGNANT. Do I look pregnant? I must look pregnant. It’s the damn puffer coat! No, it’s my damn puffer tummy! I know: I’ll ask him if he thought I was pregnant, make a joke out of it, so he doesn’t think I’m a lunatic. Holy s**t! I AM a lunatic.

And on from there for at least two stops. God forbid I should take it as the lovely gesture of simple human kindness that it quite possibly was. Perhaps he was just a nice person who didn’t feel like sitting. Maybe he thought I looked tired (which I did, because I am, and because that’s just how I look now that I’m a Formerly.) Maybe he’s from the Deep South or some planet on which men are not afraid of women accusing them of paternalism for doing something that might be construed as sexist.

There are many possible explanations for his baffling behavior, but the first and only one that I thought of in the moment was that I looked as if my water was about to break.

In years past, I would have assumed he was about to hit on me, but that doesn’t happen with any frequency anymore either, and, well, he didn’t. The fact that I defaulted to the pregnancy panic place was…I don’t know, maybe 30 percent my own ridiculousness and 70 percent the fact that people rarely give up their seats except to pregnant women, and even then, it’s not a given. I’ve since decided, after looking at the skinny mirror at my office (the only mirror I now consider accurate) that he was just a nice guy.

Which is…kind of nice, actually. I’ve noticed that the older I get–I know, 42 isn’t old, but it’s oldER–the fewer ulterior motives people have in being decent. I hear that shifts again when you get really old and people start targeting you with scams to bilk you out of your Social Security.

But for now, I like being an adult tween, not old, and not young. And not to proud to pass up a seat on the subway.

Photo by  Ed Yourdon CC

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4 Responses to “I killed chivalry”

  1. Miss Fanny says:

    I think it is great that he did that, and probably was going to hit on you but decided to play out the whole gentleman thing till the end.

  2. Maia says:

    Here in Portland Oregon we have an “honored” citizens category on our public transit. Senior, pregnant women etc. And do you remember when we used to take the bus to school? Did we give up our seats?

  3. Amy says:

    If no one offered you their seat while you were pregnant…. clearly he did not think so. So. Deep south it is.

  4. Duchess says:

    Would Formerly Hot consider increasing her font size so that Formerly Able to Read could see the text? Because yours is among the teensiest sites I have ever visited. It’s lucky I can touch type, because I sure as hell can’t read what I am writing in this box…!