When I arrived at my school in Thailand I encountered something that wasn’t covered during orientation. Apparently I would be the butt of a never-ending and confusing joke throughout my time here. Nearly every day someone would point or even poke my stomach and ask me if I was pregnant.
I was dumbfounded the first time it happened. I was shopping in small store in my neighborhood when a woman out of nowhere touched my stomach and just said, “baby?". I was horrified and immediately thought all the rice and noodles had deposited into my midsection after only a week. After a careful self-examination in the mirror and noticing all my clothes were in fact getting looser, I was confused.
I chalked that experience up to a misunderstanding and went about my business. But then it happened again. I was teaching one of my first groups of students and I found several of them whispering about me and motioning towards my stomach. “Teacher, baby?”, they would ask. I would see students in the hallway and get poked in the stomach regularly and questioned if I was having a baby. I couldn’t figure it out. Heck, I had students that weighed quite a bit more than me!
On one trip to Chiang Mai with friends I got some surprising news at the breakfast table after a night out partying. I was telling everyone about people in my town thinking I was pregnant. My friend then told me that our tuk tuk driver the night before asked my friends if I was pregnant! I couldn’t believe it. I was even wearing a mini leopard print dress that would hardly cover up a baby bump.
To this day I still can’t figure it out. Some of my Thai coworkers tried to tell me it was just a joke, but none of my other girlfriends were experiencing what I went through. I came to laugh at it towards the end and joke back with people, but I never experienced anything like in any of my other travels. I arrived back in Chicago with a thicker skin, a quicker knack for comebacks, and of course, a flat stomach!