Thursday, July 3, 2008

The longest three minutes of my life

I had just finished my afternoon pumping session and walked out of my designated room to return to my desk. A wonderful, engaged co-worker of mine was standing a couple feet away with her fiancée, who was in town so they could get their marriage license. I had never met him, but I am very fond of my co-worker, and from what she has shared, he sounds like a great guy. I politely shook his hand and introduced myself. He smiled, introduced himself and began to small-talk. His eyes gleamed. Wait, was one eye gleaming more than the other? Why is that one eye so shiny? Maybe he’s allergic, or emotional. Shit, is that a glass eye? Whoa! Glass Eye! No, surely it’s not, or is it? He kept turning his face away while he was talking and I couldn’t get a good enough look at it. It’s incredibly rude to stare at someone, ESPECIALLY if you’re trying to sort out whether they have a prosthetic body part, but damn it, YOU try to look away from a glass eye. It can’t be done.

The whole time I’m arguing with myself about whether or not this delightful man that my co-worker is in love with has a fancy marble in his eye socket (not that there’s anything wrong with that), this delightful man has been talking to me. And I have not heard a word. I tuned back in just in time to hear, “So where are you headed?” I assumed he had confused me with another co-worker who is moving, so I explained that I was the one staying behind. Both he and his fiancée stared at me like I’d lost my mind. I got the feeling that tidbit had been mentioned while I was zoned out. My co-worker said helpfully, “No, I think he’s talking about the bag you’re carrying. It looks like you’re heading out.” Oh, right, my bag, my pump bag, my “discreet,” enormous, ugly, black bag containing my electric breast pump and newly expressed breast milk. Oh, that. My brain got sucked into a black hole of embarrassment, and I couldn’t speak. My helpful co-worker jumped in again and stumbled her way through an explanation while I stood there like an idiot, nodding and mouth-breathing.

Then, unsurprisingly, it was time for the happy couple to go. Ever the gentleman, the fiancée said it had been great to meet me (and my breast milk). Oh, it was implied in the awkward way he could no longer meet my eyes and didn't reach to shake my hand, presumably covered in breast milk gore. "Yes," I agreed, "it was nice to meet you, too" (and your glass eye).

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