I stared at him for a moment. I am not a tactful woman. I blurt out all sorts of awkward, in an excruciatingly blundering manner, and that's when I'm trying to be nice. It just somehow... comes out all wrong. And I was impressed with his level of tactlessness. My thought bubble said: “Are you naturally that tactless, or does it take a lot of practice?” In my out loud voice (a moment of tact! Almost a decade ago!), I said that we’d had a baby. He said “Oh.” We blinked at one another politely for another moment, and then he asked if they could pick plums. I said yes, and he and his wife contentedly plucked the fruit from the tree for a little while.
Each year I go out to pick our plums, and stand under the tree as it hangs heavy and fragrant with fruit, I am reminded of the increasing distance from my son's babyhood. And each year I think: cat, or... baby? Heh.