People like my next door neighbor, who left a little note thanking us for a Christmas treat we baked for her and hinting that she’d love to look at wedding photos sometime soon… people like the lady at the bank who squealed with delight when I told her I was closing my account and merging finances with my hubby…
And then there are the other reactions. I’m not talking about overtly negative reactions here - everyone I’ve shared news of my nuptials with has been sweetly upbeat - I’m talking about the super, SUPER awkward “so, when are you two going to “get started?” (wink, wink)
The first time it happened I’m not even sure I understood what the inquisitor was getting at. We were 4 days into our honeymoon and our darling landlady, from whom we rented a gorgeous villa on Hawaii’s big island, was sagely delivering advice along with the fresh avocados and starfruit she’d picked in her garden that morning.
“Wait as long as possible before having kids, trust me… enjoy this time,” she whispered conspiratorially, gesturing towards the family sharing the adjacent villa to ours, their five year old splashing happily in the pool.
My husband and I looked at each other and shrugged, smiling a little. Seeing this exchange, our landlady clapped her hands in delight and squealed (yes, squealed) “OH, you’re TRYING! Shh, shh, don’t TELL me! Don’t tell me a thing! No, no, I don’t want to hear about it,” she insisted, clapping her hands over her ears.
I think she was charmed… but it also may have been drug induced. I can’t say for sure.
Dave and I shrugged and explained in a few short sentences that for us, there was no “trying” or “not trying” (didn’t feel like delving into the intricacies of NFP on the front porch at 8 am), but that, yeah, we’d gotten married with the idea that babies follow sex follows marriage follows that big, crazy expensive party our parents threw for us last week.
She was placated … I think. At any rate, she promptly ceased her inquiries into our sex life. I’m not sure she entirely realized that was, in fact, what she had been asking about.
A month later, while being shuttled to the airport from a conference I’d spoken at, the driver struck up a similar conversation.
“So you’re a newlywed,” he grinned in the rearview mirror, after I’d laughingly explained my confusion at seeing my maiden name scrawled on his whiteboard.
“Yep,” I nodded my assent.
“Well, you’re not thinking about having kids for a while yet, then.”
I’m not kidding, this was the very first exchange between Randy and myself, having first laid eyes on one another 30 seconds earlier.
“Um… actually…” I paused, not really wanting to provide information about my marital intimacies to a strange cab driver, but decided to throw propriety to the wind (as it had apparently already been jettisoned) and answer him honestly.
“We got married because we want to start a family,” I began, choosing my words carefully, “so, if we were to be blessed with a child now - or at any point - we’d be really happy.”
“Oh, okay.” He was quiet for a minute before launching into a story about his plans for the evening - New Year’s Eve - involving his wife and two children and a long-anticipated trip to Sea World.
I was half listening, half pondering while we drove and he talked, wondering when on earth it became okay to ask a young woman about her sexual habits before asking her first name. Sex has become so disconnected from babies, from reality, it would seem, that asking a strange young woman about her sexual practices before asking her first name is kosher.
I can’t say I was entirely surprised by this new post-nuptial phenomena. I’ve witnessed my mom handle enough checkout line interrogations of “Oh my gawd, are those ALL yours?” or “Wow, how many ARE you planning to have” to know what was coming to me when I signed my new last name on the dotted line. And I know that if and when God does decide to entrust Dave and me with one of His little ones, the inquiries will intensify with each subsequent sibling who arrives.
But I don’t think it’s going to change the way I answer. In a culture that has become so intent upon divorcing babies from the bedroom, I think a “teachable moment” might be just what the doctor ordered when some well-meaning stranger asks me about my sex life. The truth is, babies do often come about as a result of sex, which goes hand-in-glove with marriage … and yes, that big, white party our parents threw for us last month.
And I think that’s worth pointing out, since you brought it up.
Glad you asked. Some weather we’re having, isn’t it?