I caught myself doing the guy-watching-football scratch yesterday. In the midst of an interview for a story I’m working on, my navel and upper belly area started to itch. Immensely. So I scratched it. Not a huge social blunder, right?

Except that this was not a delicate, ladylike scratch. I did not furtively run my nails lightly across my belly and then stop. Instead, I started scratching the middle part of my belly, and leisurely moved my hand around, scratching the entire time, to the right, the left, the navel, back up, and all around again. When my interviewees dropped their eyes — and then quickly averted them — I then realized that I had been acting like a dog with fleas. Or, you know. A guy watching football, just scratching away without a single thought or care. I was totally busted.

I turned red, apologized, and made myself quit with the itching. But you can’t just will an itch to stop. You try to ignore it. You try not to think about that agonizing itch in your belly, sort of at the top of the belly button where your skin is surely splitting from the pressure and can’t possibly stretch any more than it already has and no wonder it itches like crazy because it’s being torn and pulled apart from the inside and the cold weather makes your skin dry on top of everything else and a little-bitty scratch might make it feel better and it ITCHES! IT ITCHES!

This may go the way of the nose blowing and sniffling. I may have to chuck what was once a polite company no-no and simply go with the flow, and face the fact that my belly itch is more important to me at certain particular moments than my manners. I’m falling apart. I’m regressing. I’m turning into an ape, or a frat boy, or just some plain ol’ trashy chick who honks her nose constantly and openly scratches body parts. So far I still avoid farting in public when it’s in any way avoidable. But I’ve hit that gassy stage of pregnancy; in another few weeks that may go the way of this itching and scratching, and I’ll just toot away and shrug it off as part of this wholly false beautiful-pregnant-woman package deal.

Good thing I only have six more weeks to go.