I was riding home on the train last night when a woman in a nearby seat asked about the shawl. (Two more rounds to go, thanks.)
At this point, I've been carrying the thing with me for three months. Questions have been commonplace. My 30-second spiel was primed and ready,* and I delivered it.
What I wasn't expecting was her response: "Seeing you do that makes me feel so guilty."
I asked why. She said that she has two small children but doesn't knit, crochet, or sew. What's more, she doesn't want to. And so, "You're a guy, making something for somebody's baby, and I'm a mother and my kids get all their stuff at the store. I feel bad about that."
Her children weren't present, but I'm guessing they're not running around Chicago naked. More likely they're as well-fed and nicely groomed as she. And yet the fact that their clothes were bought, not handmade, troubled her.
Here was an aspect of the knitting-and-gender issue I've never pondered. Men sometimes get flak for knitting. But a woman suffering guilt for not knitting? Still? Now? In 2007?
Honestly, I figured that last vestiges of that sort of thing had drifted away when I was a kid in the mid-seventies, buoyed aloft by the heat rising from a million brightly burning brassieres.*
Is this just a mother thing? Or does it affect womenfolk in general? Needless to say, I'm interested to hear your thoughts on this.
More on "Missed Connections"
I didn't pursue the fellow on the subway because I couldn't recognize him from his description, and you'd have to experience the Freak Parade that is my commute to appreciate what a can of worms a blind hello might open for me.
I don't know why he didn't/doesn't just come over and say hello, unless he's painfully shy or was crushed to death by a bus immediately after posting his notice. In which case, I sympathize. But I have to finish this shawl, so honestly I'm not looking around much between my stop and the university.
Oh, and my guess about what happened to Patrick? My guess is that when the gangway hit the dock, Patrick suddenly remembered he had a boyfriend at home. They're called shipboard romances for a reason.
Or so says Dolores.
*Little-known fact: Large-scale lace knitting in public is the perfect training for making "elevator pitches" to film and television executives. Hollywood, here I come.
**In a moment of uncharacteristic candor, my grandmother once said apropos of this topic, "No way in hell I would walk around without a bra. But I would have burned my darn girdle if they asked me."