Let me introduce T: guitar teacher and probably the most relaxed person I know. He has an unruly red beard, same colour hair and a friendly face full of freckles. He misses the top of his right-hand index finger, so often plays left-handed, even if he isn't, about which both Michele and I are completely in awe. Also, his wife is pregnant. She's due in a couple of weeks and I think he's slightly alarmed by that fact. More alarmed by that, in fact, than by the fact that their new house still has no floor to speak of.
T approaches me in the middle of a rather crowded auditorium of the kids' school where a bake-sale is taking place, organised by group 7 to collect money for clean water in a very warm and poor country. He bellows "Ah, Dorte! I can probably ask you, since you're a woman and you seem to have some experience in that whole pregnancy and birthing business."
Flattered, but panicking slightly I look around me to see who's heard, straight into the eyes of one of the 20 odd mums eating cakes and chatting in aforesaid auditorium. I happen to know that this particular mum has three children and she is holding her youngest of 2 on her lap. Surely she is more up-to-date with child-bearing techniques and she's done it more often then I have. But I can never resist giving advice, especially when I'm actually being asked for it. I edge slightly away from her, just to make sure.
"Er, well, yes, I suppose you could say that." I mutter, slightly embarrassed, yet curious why he's asking. He barges straight in: "I have been trying to get my wife to go to yoga, because I think she should calm down. You know, the whole breathing thing? But she will not do it, and when I try to make her sit down on the sofa instead of carrying things around she gets mad with me.", he says, and I can just see him holding down his wife's legs and arms while she is struggling to get up from the couch, belly first. He does not know yet that one should never, I repeat, never get in the way of highly pregnant females. It's asking for trouble. He's beginning to see that, though, and cheerfully asks me: "Do you have any tips??".
I thought he was going to ask about the actual birth-giving, which is tricky as it is, but at least rather factual if you leave out all the whirling emotions. But it's potentially dangerous to start advising husbands on how to get their way with the missus, especially when she's pregnant. But my vanity wins and I try to scuttle around the question by suggesting
"How about swimming?"
"I've thought about that but she says she doesn't like the pool. She thinks it's unhygienic."
"Er, well, how about a nice, long soak in the tub?"
"Ah yes, but we are staying her parent's house and they don't have a bath."
T looks expectantly at me. I feel caught out in the one subject I love to rant on about. Then I have a stroke of genius. "T, may I suggest a nice foot massage every now and then? I'm sure she'll love that, love you for doing it and you'll have a different woman on your hands."
His face clouds over, and he looks unsure about the whole idea. In fact, he gives the distinct impression of a man sorry to have asked advice of a woman in the first place.
"I don't really know how to do massages, do you think it will work?"
"I am one-hundred percent sure, one-hundred percent!" I beam, on solid ground again.