21 October 2005
Insert Wedge-Heeled Boot in Mouth
I should know better. I violated a cardinal social rule; one of the most elementary kind; one that distinguishes us from the animals. For a highly intellectual story I'm writing on wedge-heeled boots, I headed to an event at a boutique on Charles Street to interview the owner about Rafe boots. I dragged Code Red along with me, knowing her passion for footwear coupled with my penchant for complimentary martinis and cake would make for a lovely evening. The PR girl introduced Annie and I to the owner -- a voluptuous pregnant woman in a black and gold empire waist dress. Always hoping to personalize interviews, I said. "Oh! When are you due?" The lilt in my voice hadn't even subsided when I realized I'd made a terrible mistake. The entire store silenced around me. "Oh. I'm not pregnant," the owner said. Out of the corner of my eye, I swear I saw Annie drop the boot she was inspecting and stick her head in an oversized Balenciaga bag.
Making matters much, much worse I became shrill with apology. Luckily, the owner possessed better social skills and appeased me, informing me she'd just had her second baby and that someone had made a similar comment earlier. At this point, the entire store had witnessed the exchange. The only way I could have made the moment more awkward would have been to ask if she'd carried the baby in her ass.
So we did a lightning fast interview but instead of staying for the free refreshments, I just looked at Annie, who read my mind: "Let's get the hell out of here." I've never speedwalked on Charles Street, but we hustled to a slow jog to the Harvard Gardens and went into recovery mode. Even Annie noted the woman looked "very pregnant."
Still, in my defense, my judgment was clouded by an incident over the summer when the wife of a friend told me she was "hurt" that I didn't inquire about her pregnancy. This woman, who I see maybe once a year, had always been on the heavy side. Since I had not heard she was pregnant -- from her or anyone else, I decided not to ask. After learning she was upset by this, I thought I'd made the wrong decision. But after last night, I stand by it. It's always better to err on the side of clueless.