Saturday, January 06, 2007

Say What You Will About Politicians, But They’re Good at What They Do

I have two suits that fit. They’re not even really suits; they’re two slightly different black jackets which pair passably well with pants that don’t really match. I’m not a particularly well-dressed woman to begin with, so when even I can tell that I have so few wardrobe choices, the situation is pretty bleak.

Earlier this week, my new office got uncomfortably hot and I had to admit to my officemate that I couldn’t take off my jacket because the shirt I was wearing underneath wouldn’t button below my sternum. She laughed at me. Then she felt kind of bad, gave me a sympathetic “Poor Thing,” and then laughed at me some more.

Yesterday I opted for a maternity dress that doesn’t really fit (it’s much shorter in the front than it should be) and a non-maternity jacket that serves only to hide my upper arm flab. I thought that since it was Friday, I probably wouldn’t see any Members and would spend the day holed up in my office in my ill-fitting garments.

Except I ended up spending 20 minutes on the House floor looking for my boss, during a vote.

Here’s the thing about being surrounded by hundreds of people who have just won big popularity contests: they’re all really charismatic. I received many hearty greetings of “How are you? Congratulations!” and one enthusiastic “That baby is due!” A Member from Texas stopped short of patting me, instead giving the air around my belly a reverent rub.

A Member chatted with me about due dates and delivery and wrangling two children. Almost two years ago, his twins were born six weeks early and spent a little under a month in the NICU. The Congressman’s wife will be traveling next week, leaving him alone with a pair of very healthy two-year-old boys. (If you think you're busy next week, imagine yourself in this guy’s position.)

All this glad-handing probably explains why it took so damn long to find my boss.

While I felt silly in my goofy clothes, it’s hard not to be cheered up when elected officials are grinning at you. They didn’t seem to notice that my feet were jammed into shoes that were too snug, and I kind of forgot how swollen the legs just above those feet were.

It’s an interesting time on the Hill right now. Everybody is polite to you just in case you’re that freshman Member they haven’t heard about. Eventually the Capitol Police and cloakroom attendants and Parliamentarians and reporters milling about the Speaker’s Lobby will figure out who’s who and get back to being snippy to “just staff.” Soon I will no longer be lumbering about as a heavily pregnant woman, and Members of Congress won’t be leaping up to get me a chair.

Even though I’m uncomfortable and cranky and so ready to be done being pregnant, it was a fun experience yesterday. I walk really slow and have to endure 17 more days of this and then the joy of labor awaits, but no one on the House floor noticed that my jacket didn’t fit. Instead, everyone seemed genuinely happy to be in the presence of a big fat pregnant lady.

I’m still screwed, but somehow I feel better about it.

And what more can we expect from our politicians, really?


Anonymous said...

I'm with you. Maternity clotes stink. period. In fact, that statement requires another period. period.

But it's nice when people tell you you look good anyway!

Anonymous said...

Grr. First Bloglines hasn't been updating me on your blog since Christmas. Then I just got caught up, left a comment, but beta just consumed it in the name of the wrong sign in identity. F-in beta.

All I wanted to say was that I was glad that he rubbed the air *around* your belly.