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“Don’t ever ask a woman if she’s pregnant.” (emphasis added) –Everyone says this at least 16 times in their life

We all know this adage so well that it almost doesn’t need to be said, does it? The reason I begin with this commonly known life lesson is because I was wondering today if there is an equivalent offensive question for men. Asking about male-patterned baldness, perhaps?

“Hey, Josh, are you balding?”

Ehh, that doesn’t hurt so much. It just hurts a little. And…I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that. Whenever my receding hairline comes up, people just laugh at me. So it’s not exactly the same as asking a woman if she’s pregnant.

Then what question is equally as offensive to men? Asking if a man is unemployed? Maybe.

Actually, come to think of it, it’s pretty bad to ask a man if he’s pregnant. I’ve only been asked that twice, and each time, it did not go over well, like the time it was my doctor.

Here are questions I don’t like to be asked/told:

“Are you tired?”

To which I respond, “In fact, I’m more awake than ever. Why do you ask?”

“You sound tired.”

Don’t say that to anyone, ever, especially to me. Same goes with:

“Are you sick?”


“You look depressed.”

I get those questions every other day. j/k (every other two days)

Here’s a comment I loathe:

“Don’t sound so excited!”

This is a sarcastic statement made by someone who really means that I sound bored out of my mind. I don’t do well with sarcastic declarations like that one, even when I am, in fact, bored out of my mind.

When I’m told to not sound so excited, I think, “Wait. Are they being serious?”

Because in my world, I’m the only sarcastic person, so it’s really tough to take sarcasm from others.

I’m just now realizing: if I react to sarcasm in that way, is that how people react when I am sarcastic with them?


The one I hate most is when I’m speaking to a large group without a microphone and someone shouts,

“Speak up!”

“Speak up,” is the same to me as Marty being told he is, “chicken,” in Back to the Future.

Nobody. Calls. Me. Chicken.

I don’t know what it is about “speak up,” but I hate it. I have been in the audience when, try as I might, I cannot hear a word of what’s being said. Yet I would never – NEVER – tell them to speak up. Never.  Ever. Unless – I will add another UNLESS – unless I wanted to know what the speaker was saying…………….

Hey, wait a second…


My dislike for, “speak up,” probably goes back to the time at work when I picked up the phone with, “This is Josh,” and I heard, “Hello?”

I tried again, “This is Josh.”

Then I heard, “Is someone there?”

What? They can’t hear me? I remembered this had happened on two earlier calls that day and both times I thought it was a problem with their line, not mine.

“This is JOSH! Who is this?” I said, emphasizing my name, which has so many good consonant sounds it’s impossible not to hear, even when I need to speak up.

“What?” the person on the other line asked, as if they were playing games with me.

Louder, I yelled, “JOSH! It’s me, JOSH!”

At this point, my cubicle-sharing coworkers were having a good laugh.

“What is going on?” I asked them.

“What?” the caller said. “I can barely hear you!”

The laughing coworkers and the caller’s determination to speak had me now blaring, “JOSH ROLPH! THIS IS JOSH ROLPH!”

“Must be the connection. I’ll call you back.”



Phone rang again.

“This is Josh.”



“I can barely hear you. You’ll have to speak up.”

This happened on a few more calls that morning. Just as I was about to call IT, I learned it was nothing more than an in-house prank put on by my boss.

Turns out, she had put a clear piece of Scotch tape over my phone’s mouthpiece.

That happened when I worked in a very lighthearted environment, in a congressional office.

If I remember right, the person on the other line in the lengthy exchange above was the President. It’s been awhile, details are fuzzy.

Moral of the story: don’t ask me to speak up, and don’t ask anyone if they are pregnant.