From yesterday's Miss Manners:
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a young woman in my early 20s, and I have recently taken up knitting in an effort to broaden the scope of my hobbies. I thoroughly enjoy it, and it provides endless entertainment for me.Miss Manners responds:
I started off knitting at home, and once I became more confident in my abilities, I began taking my knitting outside with me. It has proved to be useful in staving off boredom while waiting for the bus or at the doctor’s office, among other places.
Unfortunately, since I have been taking my knitting with me, I find myself frequently asked by several people when the baby is due. I am not pregnant; I am merely a larger girl with an affinity for homemaking crafts. I find myself at a loss for a response and typically end up looking at the offender with a mix of shock and surprise.
Sometimes the look is not enough, and they remain there smiling and waiting for an answer, at which point I have a tendency to laugh nervously and say something to the effect of “I’m not pregnant.” I feel bad about how chagrined the questioners are, but I can’t think of any other response besides making up a due date to preserve the poor folks’ dignity.
Is there a better response I could give these well-meaning (and seriously misguided) people? Am I more or less doomed to pregnancy questions because the only feasible reason for a young woman to knit is that she is expecting?
GENTLE READER: As Miss Manners understands it, football players who knit do not have this problem. But we all have the problem of inspiring strangers to voice the first silly association that comes into their heads.Lulu: Unexpected but welcome robbery humor from Miss Manners! It's a good point, too, that you could say 'oh, this is an adult sweater' or 'oh, this is for my sister, I'm not having a baby' and pretend to assume they thought you were pregnant because they thought you were knitting booties and not because you are fat.
Pretending to be pregnant would only encourage such people to make even more intrusive comments. They have compromised their dignity enough as it is.
Unless you are knitting booties, you can merely state what it is, in fact, that you are knitting: “Actually, this is going to be a ski mask. For skiing, not for robbing convenience stores.”
Ashley: Except they DO assume you're pregnant, because being pregnant doesn't mean you're knitting for the baby. They assume if you're knitting at all that you're pregnant. So what would happen there is that it would become a longer conversation. I've gotten that comment a few times, and I'm not fat*.
[*Ed. note: Confirmed.]
Lulu: That is so weird.
Ashley: "I'm not pregnant, I just like to knit" is what I go with. But like matter of factly, not embarrassedly.
Lulu: Yeah, in a friendly way.
Ashley: Right. As if it's a fine assumption on their part to make, and I'm the weirdo. It's one of those things where it's really not worth fighting over... I know, even for me, right? :D
Ashley: mostly it cuts the conversation off quickly, which is what I want. I don't want embarrassed stammering on their part about how their sister blah blah. I do not care.
Lulu: Lots of people knit these days, you would think it wouldn't be that weird.
Ashley: I told you the I knit like a nazi story, right?
Lulu: haha what?
Ashley: DUDE. This happened like last week. This is why pregnancy comments don't even phase me anymore. There are NAZI comments.
Lulu: Oh man. I need to hear this.
Ashley: So I'm knitting on the 39, and there are tons of empty seats, but this woman gets on the bus, sees me knitting, and plops down next to me. She observes me for a while, really intensely, and then says, "That's weird, you knit like a nazi." In a super conversational, friendly tone.
Lulu: HOW DOES A NAZI KNIT
Ashley: LIKE ME, LULU
Lulu: Is this the Continental vs. American thing?
Ashley: So I go, "cough, erm, what?" And, yah, it turned out that the REASON English/US people knit differently is as a form of protest against the nazis. So like they all used to knit like me, but during WWII, they switched!
Lulu: Really?? They just starting knitting less efficiently? To protest Teutonic efficiency???
Ashley: Apparently!! A woman from knitting group confirmed it! I haven't wikied it yet though.
Lulu: But all of the Continent still knits Continental.
Ashley: I knooooow. She ended up guessing that I'm not American from my accent, so she seemed less concerned then. She just wanted to make sure I wasn't a nazi sympathist counter-protester! But I like how that was just like a thing you're supposed to know.
Lulu: I am American and I learned from you, so for me it's a problem.
Ashley: Yeah. You're just fucked.
Lulu: I don't want to be a nazi, but at the same time, I like how those people knit. They make some good sweaters. I'm just saying.