January is the month of cleaning and organizing, and how I found
myself in the way back of my closet holding a silk maternity blouse.

I had gained a lot of weight for my second child – A LOT of weight.
It was a complicated pregnancy and not once did anyone accuse me of
glowing. 84 lbs can do that to a gal.

But to my surprise, my massive maternity became almost a disguise.
Walking in the Minneapolis skyway, people no longer saw me as another
yuppie on the way to work. I was more of a cartoon character. And as I
paraded around as this living caricature of myself, people seemed to
lose their ability to self-censor. They would say anything to me.

Sometimes it was a just a startled, “Oh my God!” as I unexpectedly
rounded a corner. The inquisitive, “December baby?” to which I was
forced to reply a pitiful, “next June.” Or the frank, “You are the
biggest pregnant woman I’ve ever seen.” (Um, okay.) My personal
favorite was from the large black woman with dreadlocks who stopped,
put one hand on her hip and said, “Whooeee girlfriend!” I nodded and
gave a weak smile – yes, whoo-eee indeed.

I clearly remember wearing the blouse. It’s adorned with a pattern
of large, ripe fruit. (Take a moment to picture that.) Honestly, it
looked really cute on the hanger, but on me it prompted the snide
skyway comment by a young man, “Bringing juice to the meeting, huh?”
And it hit me: I had become Violet, the girl from Willy Wonka blown up
into a giant blueberry just waiting for the Umpa Lumpas – or Northstar
building security – to roll me away.

I started brown bagging lunch and kept clear of the pedestrian pattern of downtown.

It had been the first day I wore the expensive blouse and I never
wore it again. And when I looked at it today, still perfectly new, I
bypassed the Goodwill bin and dumped it directly into the garbage. I
don’t want anyone else to get juiced.