Jeff and I (okay, mostly just me) were chatting up the friendly female owner of the local small business establishment we were patronizing. As she rang us up, she stated, more matter-of-fact than question, "So, no kids yet?". Jeff replied no, while I was struck with curiosity with how she knew that. In spite of talking for ten or more minutes, that had never come up. In fact, neither of us was even wearing our wedding bands at the moment. So I asked in amazement how she knew we didn't have kids. She laughed and said we were too relaxed and affectionate and that couples with kids always looked a bit more harried.
Then she sweetly asked how long we had been married, and I knew what was coming. Jeff told her it had been twelve years, and she exclaimed "Twelve years and no kids yet?!". I explained we hadn't been able to have children, though I hated to since it always leaves people feeling awkward. I suppose they just never know what to say to that.
But I guess I'm always a bit surprised at how surprised people are. After all, statistics show that 10-15% of couples suffer from infertility. That's a lot of men and women! Surely these strangers we meet must know at least ten or fifteen acquaintances, making it very likely someone in their circle of friends also can't have children. But maybe we look too young or too healthy or too carefree to be dealing with such a serious burden. And with the rise of DINKs (Dual Income, No Kids) by choice, maybe they think we're some selfish yuppie couple who doesn't want children. Which hurts more than their knowing we're incapable of pregnancy and childbearing, so I usually tell them the truth (unless they are particularly obnoxious and I don't care to reward their digging with such a personal nugget).
But I guess the good news to come from all of this is that we look like a young, newly married, very much in love couple who isn't expected to be procreating yet. And that's not such a bad image at all. Let's just hope we can carry it off as well in our forties, and our fifties, and our sixties, ...!