Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What Does Your Husband Do?

I took The Boy to the first birthday party of this Kingergarten class on Sunday afternoon. Parents were encouraged to stay as there was a lot of area to be covered at the farm/orchard where it was held. When the kids were wrangled together it was a time for some of the parents standing on the perimeter to get to know each other.

I struck up a small talk conversation with the woman to the right of me. It was pleasant. They had just moved to the area from a state south of here. Her family actually lived in a place I was familiar with as when I was a Youth Director in a state even farther south I would bring the youth to her area to go skiing. In our back and forth I mentioned those days a couple of times. We spoke about her kids and their move up here for her husband's job. There had been no mention of my current job, which admittedly I was holding my breath a bit for. This may be why it surprised me all the more when after a brief lag in our conversation she asked, "What does your husband do?"

Only a couple of years ago that question would have put me in a free-fall, searching for the closest hole I could jump into to hide from society's judgmental glare. As it is, I simply responded that we are divorced, but The Boy's Dad now works at the 'Marada Hotel' as a desk clerk. I paused and then I said that when we met we both worked in youth ministry. Her next question was then to ask me what I do, but even as she asked it she was backing away, and as I gave her a brief response she walked away mumbling something about having to throw our her cake plate.

I'm not irate.
I don't have Gloria Steinem on speed dial.
I know it is hard to take a quick glance at my hands and determine if I am married or not.
I get that she very well could have been embarrased and that is why she backed away from me even though it looked like she didn't want to catch the Divorce Cooties.

I'm just recognizing the disappointment that we still live in a society where when talking to a woman with no man mentioned or in the vicinity, the first small talk question that came to mind was, "What does your husband do?"


Jennifer said...

No kidding. I thought we had outgrown that silly tendency of assuming the whole world is just like us.....

God_Guurrlll said...

And what ever happened to talking about the weather???

It's funny when I get The "what does your husband do?" I'll say, "I don't have a husband, but I have a lovely wife and she..."

Anonymous said...

Big "ick" on this... :-P

(by the way, I don't know why my ID posts the way it does, and wish I knew how to change it to my name!)

sherry said...

I usually respond, smiling, with "On a good day, he takes out the trash."

Jules said...

Sigh...she probably felt terribly embarrassed. And she should.

But I've had a lot of people back away to avoid the Damaged Goods Cooties in the past year, so we can't rule that out.

You rock, by the way.

altar ego said...

I'm sure this is just me, since I was single until I was 48, but it never occurs to me to ask about a husband until way into a conversation. A question I learned from a friend is, "what keeps you busy?" It usually surprises people, and it's interesting what kinds of answers it invites.