Walking into a conference for planetary science and new mission planning yesterday, I got in line to pick up my badge. I hadn’t been there five minutes when I was greeted by an old colleague who, instead of shaking my hand, smiled and said, “Well, I see you’ve been busy!” and patted my stomach several times in quick succession.
I stared blankly at him, honestly not getting it (I’m mostly with friends these days).
So he did it again.
I smiled weakly, realizing that he thought I was pregnant because of my treatment-swollen belly (I’ve been on drugs and chemotherapy with nasty side effects this year, the least of which are a) weight gain and b) the inability to lose weight). I do my best to camoflauge it with clothing, but since I have no breasts (double mastectomy in 2008 to save my life), it’s difficult, particularly when I’m swollen with lymphedema too.
The best I could come up with was a weak smile and the rejoinder, “No, that’s just cookies!” moving away so he couldn’t insist, and asking him quickly “How’s business?”
It was not the best of ways to start a conference.