It’s baby shower season! Yaaaay! No. Stop it. They’re loathsome. If you’ve never been a guest at a baby shower, they are basically pastel-hued social anxiety buffets with bad food and awkward games, governed by a rigid system of lady rules. You’ll see. Traditionally, the attendees are female acquaintances of the mother-to-be. Most of the women don’t know each other, and span all ages and arenas of the featured female’s life.
“Christine the college drinking buddy, meet Great Aunt Linda, who hasn’t smiled since 1973.”
When you arrive as a guest to the shower, you sit in your car for a while, psyching yourself up in the rear-view mirror. “You can do this. Think chubby pink thoughts. Don’t let your pregnant teammate down, she is counting on you. Just put in an hour and then you can go to Wendy’s and get french fries to dip in a Frosty. Focus on the Salty Frosty.”
When you do walk in, the smell of lipstick meets you in the doorway. It’s stretched across all the pursed lips as far as the eye can see.You drop your gift at the gift shrine, and move for a seat toward the back. As you bob through the sea of cardigans, you start to doubt what you’re wearing. And also everything you’ve ever worn in your entire life.
Something about a room full of formal adult females makes you feel like your dress is probably too low-cut and you’re not wearing enough nylon.
The gift table is piled high with pink and blue lies. You see, the female shower subject is going to open gifts she already knows she’s getting. She picked them out, and told you to get them, and watched them come off her registry, one-by-one. Your job is to buy the thing she knew she was getting. Wrap it elaborately in the wrapping paper equivalent of buttercream frosting. Then you sit in a folding chair and watch her pretend to be startled, opening the gifts that she knows- you know- she knows- she’s getting.
You all have a part to play. DON’T BLOW IT.
The gifts are fancy and useless, mostly. We bring baby clothes to baby showers because they’re so cute we might actually explode, leaving whimpering debris everywhere. No one brings plans for how to make the baby a conscientious member of society, or a how-to manual on regaining the pelvic floor after it’s dusted in childbirth. We’ll worry about that later, I guess, but for now, TINY SOCKS BY THE THOUSANDS. You may be thinking that this frenzied obsession with decorating babies and nurseries is bad for womankind. But you’re saying, “What a lovely butt wipe cozy. I wonder if they have it in paisley.”
You know the baby shower rules.
As you sit trying to making the smallest small talk with the stranger next to you, she will tell you her birth story. Oh, yes, she will, whether or not you asked. You were aiming for, like, tepid approval of the weather, but instead you get her vaginal life story. In fact, by the end of the day, all the current or former uterus owners in the room will feel compelled to share their own uterine unloading stories. The longer and more gruesome the better.
Birth stories are like fishing tales, they get wilder with each telling. By the time an 85 year-old woman is sharing about the birth of her child, who is now herself an AARP member, it was a 9 day labor with a 14 lb kid and the only analgesia was whiskey…for the doctor, who was also the town barber and mayor.
You sit there squirming politely because those are the rules.
You might fantasize about your own perfect baby shower. It would be at a taco establishment or an arcade, perhaps, with plenty of skee-ball. There would be so much chocolate and warm bread. Women AND men would attend because the men don’t get to NOT care about the baby or nursery and the women don’t have to care too much. Nothing would be wrapped. The advice the guests give would be limited to easy, fantastic birth stories, or tales of how they themselves screwed up as a parent now and then, but everyone made it out alive. Each attendee would have to give the pregnant lady a get-out-of-baby free card that is good for one babysitting bail-out in a time of need.
The only thing you will insist on complying with is that the guests would get those little tulle nets full of Jordan Almonds as a parting gift, because that shit is delicious. Plus, it goes great in a Salty Frosty.
We don’t make the rules.
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