Maybe it’s just me, but it sure seems like there are a large number of women who are pregnant right now. I like to people-watch on the beach, and the percentage of women who lead with their stomachs sure seems to be growing. I guess that’s to be expected after such a long cold winter, if you know what I mean.
When I was pregnant with my third child, spending time on the beach was both the best and the worst part of my day. At that point in life, I had a two-year-old and a four-year-old. My mornings were thus spent attempting to execute a successful preschool experience for the eldest. After preschool, we would head home and shove some sort of lunch-like substance down our throats and head out to the beach.
The best part of the day was plopping my beach chair down right by the water’s edge and feeling the waves run up my swollen legs. I’d sit that way for hours, watching the boys build sandcastles and boogie board at the ocean’s edge.
The worst part of the day was anything that involved me moving, in all my pregnant glory, out of that beach chair. My two-year-old had this peculiar habit of suddenly putting down his shovel and pail and taking off down the beach. The problem was, he’d start in on his little toddler run, and being quite far into my pregnancy, I simply couldn’t move fast enough to keep up with him. Deep in the Thomas the Tank Engine phase, he’d find a track made by the occasion beach patrol vehicle and off he’d head, choo chooing as he went.
My only hope was that he’d eventually trip and fall, so I’d have time to catch up. He wouldn’t be hurt, of course, having landed on the sand, and often he’d get distracted by looking at whatever shells or debris he found around him where he had fallen, and I’d have sufficient time to catch up.
One particularly sweltering September day, as I sat on the beach, the boys were absorbed in building a “Ginormous, mommy, ginormous!” castle, so I knew I’d probably be able to sit for quite some time uninterrupted. I settled back in my chair, eyes fixed on the ocean in front of me, and let my thoughts wander. Suddenly, a lady sitting about 50 feet down the beach jumped out of her chair and yelled, “A crab! A crab!” She looked right at me, the closest person to her, expectantly.
One of the bizarre and sometimes humorous things about living on the island is that, given the high percentage of tourists staying on the island during much of the year, people tend to assume that I am a tourist too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked, “So where do you live?” as I stand in front of my house.
So evidently, this lady assumed I was a tourist. The truth is, that’s like getting worked up over a squirrel sighting in various other parts of the country. Crabs are fairly plentiful on the island during certain times of the year.
Tell the truth. Would you, chest-deep in a pregnancy, want to get out of your low-to-the-ground chair to see a squirrel, or an ant, or a twig for that matter? I thought not.
In my case, I had seen crabs on our beach literally hundreds of times and frankly could have cared less about seeing another one given my pregnant state. But I didn’t want to seem rude or standoffish, so I smiled and nodded, trying to appear pleasantly albeit mildly interested. This, apparently, was not enough, because she repeated herself and paused, waiting for my reaction again. Feebly, I offered up another smile and a nod.
No good. She repeated herself again, this time gesticulating, in my opinion, a little wildly.
And so I found myself faced with a choice. Either ignore her, and come across as a diva ambivalent to the wonders of nature, or haul my pregnant self up out of my chair and feign an excitement of proportions great enough to assuage this well-meaning tourist.
I hauled my pregnant self up out of that chair.
With all the fake enthusiasm that I could muster, I ambled over toward the lady, ooing and ahhing over her crab sighting. I knew, of course, that the crab, elusive and skittish by nature, would be scared silly by her yelling and be halfway to Mexico by now. It was. She showed me the crab hole and offered up a brief description of the crab before I returned to my chair.
Yesterday, I actually did get up out of my chair to take a look at this crab, hiding behind my dune grass. Maybe it’s because this is the first crab I’ve seen after months of unusually cold weather.
More likely, it’s because I’m not pregnant.