In life, if not yet in art, I have mastered the art of irony. And all it took was managing to be eight months and three weeks pregnant during the cultural phenomenon that is Miami Swim Week. I mean, just look at this photo. That girl and I, we’re the same genus and species. The same sex, possibly even the same race. Yet one of these things is not like the other.
Lately I’ve been realizing that some places are better than others when it comes to the “where should I be eight months and three weeks pregnant?” dilemma. As I’ve noted before on this blog, I used to think Miami Beach was a great place to gestate. It had so much going for it–obstetricians who kiss you on the cheek at the start and end of the appointment and sound like Fernando Lamas (mine, Dr. Bitran, says, “you’re doing beautifully!” but it sounds just like “you look mahvelous!”). Birthing classes that don’t require you sign up months in advance, as in NYC. Easy access to spinach empanadas, chocolate croissants and frozen yogurt, my three main pregnancy cravings.
Yes, Miami Beach and I were making beautiful prenatal music together, until about a month ago when it started to get incredibly hot and humid, my hands and feet started to swell, and I had to waddle everywhere in flip flops and muu-muus surrounded by women in minidresses and platforms. (I love a platform shoe. Sigh.) Which is not to say that the Miami Beach aesthetic is not, necessarily, my own. When we moved here, and a girl about my height and weight walked by in a strapless, skin-tight frock I would never dare to wear, I turned to my husband and said, “Don’t let me start to think that’s an appropriate way to dress.”
Still, I admire the ladies here, who take pride in their appearance and seem not to judge those of us who maybe should have reconsidered the skintight jumpsuit, or put on a little lip gloss as a show of respect for our fellow humans. When I first got pregnant, the Miami Beach madams made me feel less like a freak. “I can’t possibly wear any of my old clothes,” I said to my husband, once my bra size had increased and my cups runnethed over.
“You look just like all the ladies with boob jobs on Lincoln Road!” he said cheerily. “You’ll fit right in!”
But now that my stomach is so spherical that my breasts seem positively modest in comparison, I’m starting to suspect that I stand out among the other ladies. As I walked to my yoga class today, a waiter setting up the open-air tables at Paul’s yelled out, “Oh la la, that’s a big one!” I don’t think he was talking about my smile.
“It sure is!” I responded.
“Boy or girl?” he asked.
“Oh,” he said. “Wow!”
I had rendered Mr. Oh la la speechless. (I don’t know if he was really French–he could have been, Paul’s is a French bakery with lots of francophone staffers–or if the Oh la la was an insouciant nod to it being Bastille Day, but I wasn’t going to stick around to find out.)
As I kept walking, passing the huge clock at the corner of Lincoln and Washington, which reported that the temperature was already 93 degrees, I thought that maybe I’d jump in the ocean on my way back home, post-class. I didn’t mind getting my yoga clothes salty; they were headed straight for the wash anyway. But then as I strolled along Collins, I saw the tents on the beach and I remembered: it’s the most wonderful time of the year–if you’re a preteen boy living in South Florida. Yes, this is Miami Swim Week, when models from all corners of the globe converge to showcase ever tinier bikinis.
I knew Miami Swim Week was coming, but I was opting out of most of the events surrounding it. I felt I’d been there, done that, written the cover story (for Ocean Drive‘s Miami Swim edition). And I decided to keep opting out, jettisoning all plans to take a quick, post-downward-dog dip; a pregnant woman in workout clothes is one thing, a pregnant woman in workout clothes surrounded by models in bikinis is quite another–images of whales and guppies come swimming to mind.
On the way back from yoga, I passed the Miami Beach Convention Center and interrupted a roadie’s sacred cigarette break to ask him to snap the above picture of me with a more typical Miami Swim Week girl. After all, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. “It cracks me up that she looks like that and I look like this, ” I explained to the roadie, apologizing for intruding on his “me time”.
On the final block just before reaching my apartment, I stopped to buy myself some yogenfruz, chocolate fro-yo with almond shavings. I still think that my parents’ house in Massachusetts, with its backyard pool, stocked fridge, and evening breezes, might be the ideal place to be wildly pregnant, but the yogenfruz went a long way towards convincing me that Miami and I might find a way to coexist for the next 5 weeks.