Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Man, you gotta protect her and that baby...

My wife and I went out West this summer. We were in Portland, walking past a restaurant with tables on the sidewalk, and a man at one of the tables suddenly reached out his hand in my direction. "Man, you gotta protect her and that baby. You walk on the streetside." He dragged out the word “protect” so emphatically: pro-teckt. Maybe he was drunk. Maybe I should’ve been offended; the other people at his table seemed mortified, but I wasn’t. I stepped around my wife to walk between her and the street, and gave him a wave.

We walked on and continued with whatever conversation we’d been having, but I kept thinking about the exchange. Should my manhood have been insulted? Why had I never heard of or thought about the fact that I should walk between the street and my pregnant wife? Maybe because I know that if a car careened off the street and onto the sidewalk, no one would be standing over me and a crumpled car saying, “Thank God his body stopped the car!” Who am I, the Hulk? Still, it’s a nice thought, and I felt a little guilty for not having thought of it on my own. So, later that night, as we walked back to the car, past the same restaurant, I looked for my new friend. He looked up as we walked by, and I caught his eye, motioning to my body’s position between my wife and the street. “How am I doing?” I asked. He raised his glass and gave me a nod.

44 days until baby.


  1. Bill - walking between the street and a woman (not necessarily pregnant) is an old-time courtesy in the same line as holding the door for a lady. One of those manners that we've lost over the years. It is also something I did with my kids, the thought being is that if a vehicle came careening on to the sidewalk I could push the child away from the direction of the oncoming danger.

  2. You could have said that you were walking on the non-street side to protect her from HIM.

  3. And back in, oh, some smelly but citi-fied time in I would suppose London, men walked on the INSIDE of the sidewalk to protect the women from having people's waste water dumped onto their heads from windows above. One never knows

    This 'fact' comes from my memory of THE BIG BOOK OF AMAZING FACTS from my childhood. Now that was the best book ever. Time to call my parents to see if it is still lurking around.

  4. I don't think of it in the context of Jeff and I, but when I walk with the kids, I always stand between them and the traffic. Kids are crazy and easily distracted, so I always make sure they can't dart near oncoming traffic if they see something or hear something and don't stop to think about the cars. It totally becomes natural- you hear the roar of the traffic and you just want to keep your kids as far away as possible, even if, in reality, I can't stop a moving vehicle. Just one of the many things you don't even need to think about as a parent; you just know.