I ran into a casual acquaintance the other day, a woman I was friendly with in grad school but see infrequently now.
We had the exact same superficial conversation that we've had every time we've bumped into each other in the past seven years: "Not much, what's new with you? Yes, work is keeping me busy, especially this time of year; no, I don't live at the beach anymore, I moved into town with Mr Wren when we got married seven years ago; yes it's been seven years; no I don't know where the time goes..." You get the idea.
And then, out of nowhere, she threw a conversational grenade right in the middle of our boring but harmless little chat.
"Do you have any kids?"
Now, if I had birthed a baby at some point in the year and a half since I saw you last, don't you think it might have come up during the "what's new" portion of our conversation? But fine, it's a common question and one I'm used to dodging.
"Nope, no kids. The two dogs keep us plenty busy!" Ask me about my dogs, please ask me about my dogs and get off the subject of kids. I have lots of cute stories about the dogs, let me tell you one.
"Well, do you think you'll EVER have kids?"
Could there possibly be a worse question to ask a woman dealing with infertility? To be fair, she has no way of knowing that I miscarried 6 weeks ago after three years of unsuccessful treatments, and that I have been asking the exact same thing of the universe for a long time now, but it's a grossly inappropriate question to ask during idle chit-chat regardless.
My reproductive choices, functions and issues are none of your business, person who can't remember where I've lived for the past seven years despite my telling you EVERY TIME we talk.
In the intervening days and after a few glasses of red wine, I came up with several scathing retorts, including: "Do you think YOU'LL ever have good manners?" "Do you think you'll ever stop asking me if I still live at the beach?" And, "do you think you'll EVER find a man or are you going to die alone with your cats?"
But I'd like to think that in the moment I handled myself with grace and dignity, and made my point without being unnecessarily cruel.
I smiled, ladled a little extra sugar into my southern drawl and said, "well, THAT'S personal" in a tone that both conveyed mild amusement and delivered a velvet-gloved verbal smack down.
She apologized and asked about my dogs. I was more than happy to tell her about them.