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The one where I learn the meaning of “mixed company” New 2020

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(While I hang out with my family, I am republishing a post from the 2007 archives for your entertainment. Enjoy!)

Last week, Ryan’s company threw a lovely holiday party. We were treated to a sit-down dinner at a well known fancy restaurant. With a babysitter I trusted, and a body that can finally fit in non-maternity clothes, I was feeling pretty happy as I took my seat at a table with three other couples.

I sat next to another mother of young children, and we talked comfortably for a couple of hours about all of the very important topics that once-hip women talk about — seeing live music in San Francisco, our interesting careers, and what to buy at Trader Joe’s. Oh, and why does no one ever tell you that all your hair will be falling out after you have babies? Yes, we covered all the good stuff.

Across from us, a couple of attractive newlyweds, probably bored to tears by our potty training tales, were charming and friendly. For a party full of folks I have never met, I was having a very good time.

Looking at the just-marrieds, I remembered the days after my own wedding, when Ryan and I could talk about nothing except how awesome our friends, family, food and festivities had been. “So,” I said to Mrs. Newlywed, “have you guys stopped talking about your wedding yet?”

“Can I be frank with you?” she said.
“Yes,” I said, leaning in with interest, hoping to hear that she cared little for her wedding, or that they didn’t actually have a wedding, so there was nothing to talk about. Something, I assumed, that would be related to her wedding.
“I went off the pill, that I was on for years, about a week before our wedding. Yeah, so you can tell where we are. Well, anyway, my hair started falling out because the impact of going off the pill is just like post-partum hormones.”

Apparently we had a misunderstanding about the topic of discussion.

My husband and her husband are in between us. Part of this conversation, but perhaps not wanting to be.

“So I just went off the pill,” she repeats. “Right, honey?” she looks at her husband to include him in the conversation. “Maybe a week before the wedding,” she tells us again. “Yeah, I just stopped taking it. Yasmin was the brand of my pill. I went off if it, and I was a total hormonal mess. Right, honey?”

Discomfort. I know my husband wishes he was not sitting next to someone who was sharing her birth control plans with us. He hates to be given too much information about people he doesn’t know. He could listen to women talk about hair coloring, vintage shoe collections, and George Clooney for a very long time, so it’s not that he has no tolerance for chick stuff. It’s the bodily functions. They’re private.

And the repeating — that was the worst part. She named the pill and continued to talk about it for at least three minutes. I was at first confused, wondering why she was telling me this. Then I remembered that the other woman and I had been talking about hair falling out postpartum.

I thought about the many conversations I have had with women I hardly know. One next to me in yoga class told me she got an anal fissure with the birth of her daughter. No problem. I’m not embarrassed or offended. But, if her husband was standing there, I sure might be. It’s not the way I believed the world is, but apparently there are some things I only want to discuss in the company of my own gender.

Tell me about your leaky breasts, your incontinence, your secrets to multiple orgasms. But don’t tell me in front of my husband.

As we waited for the valet to bring our car around and indicate the end of this very-much-fun-for-a-company-holiday-party, I told Ryan I was trying to shake off the discomfort of that birth control conversation. I think he was relieved that I felt the same way, as he does not want to believe himself to be a prude. And so we acknowledged together that there are some things that are not to be discussed in mixed company.

Keyword: The one where I learn the meaning of “mixed company”

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