Sunday, January 08, 2006

9 our of 10 polled say they'd rather remove their own spleen with a corkscrew than attend a baby shower

There is no feeling worse than the fear and dread that overcomes me when I find a baby shower invitation in my mailbox. I'd rather clean the rhino cage at the zoo with my toothbrush than go to a baby shower. For those of you men who don't know what goes on at these colossal bore-fests, they're pretty much all exactly the same, and they go like this:

10 to 50 ladies arrive in skirts and sandals, wearing Brighton jewelry and bearing gift bags. They sit around making stiff and uncomfortable small talk with one another, fake smiles plastered on their faces, for a good 45 minutes while waiting for God-knows-what...more guests to arrive, the food to be arranged in a pretty semi-circle on the table, whatever. The aforementioned small talk always involves labor and delivery stories. Anyone attempting to strike up a conversation that's not related to the pain of pushing a human head out of one's hoo-ha is swiftly punished, as the other ladies close in on her and pummel her about the head and neck with their handbags. The guest of honor and her mother work the crowd, appearing unspeakably thrilled to see each guest. Hair and shoes are complimented even in cases where a person would have to be high on glue to really like the hair and shoes in question. Finger food and some kind of non-alcoholic punch is available on a table nearby, but no one goes near it until the hosts physically shove a few people toward the table to get the ball rolling. Meanwhile, a couple of the expectant mommy's friends scuttle around handing out whatever accoutrements are necessary for the 45 tedious, insipid games that will be played throughout the affair. These games appear to have been created by grade-schoolers for grade-schoolers, so it's no problem to use only a couple of brain cells to play them while you use the rest of your brain formulating your escape plan. "How much time do I have to put in here before I can leave without looking like a dick?" The comedy is that every single smiling skirt-wearer there is thinking the exact same thing, and when one person finally does bow out politely with a made-up excuse, the rest of the attendees practically trample each other following suit. It's like a stampede of well-dressed cattle, mooing, "Congratulations!" as they body-block each other trying to get to the door first.

The truth is, I've been to a couple that weren't so bad. In fact, the one I went to in December for my neighbor was downright nice. The good showers all have one thing in common: Booze. I know, it sounds just plain wrong to have booze at a baby shower, but I'll argue that there's no situation where it's more necessary. My own shower had plenty of it, even though I couldn't drink any. (I didn't mind, though; I was high on coke at the time.) How else but half drunk can a person be expected to listen to a throng of women shriek in perfect union, "Oh my God, so CUUUTTE!!" each and every time a gift is unwrapped? The unwrapping of the gifts takes forever, and is mind-numbing to everyone but the guest of honor and her mom. After the 26th chorus of "It's darling!!" I always feel like jumping up and yelling, "Okay, we all agree! Itty bitty dresses are goddamn adorable! Let's move this thing along!"

So let this be a public service announcement to all you women. A baby shower doesn't have to be torture. Follow these few simple rules to prevent a trampling death at your shower:

1) No games. None. Okay, I understand this suggestion might just break the heart of your mother, who, for some inexplicable reason, has her heart set on some baby shower games. Fine--two games max, then, and let them be along the lines of "Guess how many diaper pins are in this bowl" rather than, "See who can diaper a baby doll fastest." Under no circumstances should a game be incorporated that takes more than 4 seconds to play.

2. Provide booze, I beg you. Make it clear on the invitation that booze will be provided; this will greatly increase the number of attendees, and therefore, gifts. You can try to keep it classy if you must, with white wine or some kind of froofy champagne spritzer hell, just as long as there's alcohol involved. No one should be expected to buy you a gift and put on a skirt without at least getting a glass of wine in return. Hopefully several. And a handful of pills.

3. Have it at your own house. I realize others are probably throwing this shower for you, rather than you throwing it for yourself, but they can just as easily throw it for you in your own house. Your mumsy and girlfriends can do all the setup and cleanup for you, just as they would if the shindig were thrown in some other location. This is important because a good half the reason these affairs are so uncomfortable is most of the attendees have never been to the house of the aunt or girlfriend who is hosting your shower, which adds to the oddness factor. And it's odd enough without trying to cram in extra oddness where it's not absolutely necessary.

4. Open your gifts quickly. You can still coo and squeal over each hat and each stuffed bunny, but coo quickly, for Christ's sake. I know it seems like everyone is thrilled to see each gift, judging by how loudly they're screeching at every pair of tiny booties you hold up, but trust me, they're only doing this to mask how incredibly uncomfortable they are, or to keep from nodding off. Possibly both. Plus, it's a sociological fact that any time you throw a crowd of total strangers in a room and deprive them of alcohol, they tend to get nervous, eventually turning shrill and bird-like. If you don't want one of your coworkers pecking one of your cousins to death, pick up the pace a little.

5. This is an option for girls who, like me, have mostly male friends: Don't make it a "ladies only" affair. If you're thinking there's no man alive who would attend a baby shower, then you're underestimating the draw of free booze. Probably 50 people attended mine, about half of them men. Besides, no one wants to go to a baby shower alone because they're expecting it to be so godawful boring, so lots of couples will attend in cases where, had it been ladies only, the lady might have sawed off her own foot just to have a valid excuse not to attend. As in, "Oh Cindy, I'm sorry I couldn't be at your baby shower--I was so mad that I had to miss it! I was at the hospital getting fitted for my prosthetic foot, and couldn't hobble away. But I know your mother took photos of you holding up each and every single bib and box of diapers that was given to you, so make sure I get to look at those sometime soon! I'm dying to see!"

That pretty much sums it up. Please, pass this advice on to any expectant mothers you know. Especially the ones you and I both know, so that the next time I get invited to a baby shower I don't have to resort to self-mutilation to get out of attending.

38 comments:

mrtl said...

You are indeed brilliant. You know what's worse than being invited to a baby shower, though? Getting to the host's house and finding a sign on the door announcing that the shower is for the person you expected AND YOURSELF. GAH! This happened to me yesterday.

Gay games were kept to a minimal at least. Still, I'm traumatized.

leesepea said...

LOL

The same applies to bridal showers - but at least with those booze is more widely accepted!

TSB said...

Wow. apparently I was wayyyyy ahead of my time. I threw a baby shower 15 years ago that involved men and women, it was actually one of the best parties I ever threw, and yes there was loads and loads of alcohol involved. I wonder if thats why everyone always asks if I am going to throw the shower???

P.S. there were no games at all....unless of course you count the game of pick up basketball that involded the 8mo pregnanat woman :)

at the Lake said...

ever thought of doing standup? you make me howl with laughter! thanks

Miladysa said...

OMG - they are just becoming 'popular' over here!

miss kendra said...

yes master.

gina said...

OMG LOL> yes why is it that everyone has to share their birth stories? as IF anyone cares!!
brilliant again, karla. i love it when i check your site and you have posted. it just makes my day.
oh Lord, are we making your head big??

Carbon said...

Oh wow, I'm totally agree with you. Your shower sounded like mine! It had all the criteria you listed. How is it that you, me and the rest of these commentors all agree but these horrid showers still continue on? Who are these ladies who stick to the old school way of throwing baby showers?

Ivy the Goober said...

I think this probably obligates you to throw all of your future expectant friends' showers from now on.

Stacie said...

Hilarious! Stacie

CommonWombat said...

I think the key bit of advice in that whole three-mile parade of funny was "invite men." Having men there will take care of just about all the other problems.

First, we will immediately go into the other room and put a football game on, leaving you women to talk about something other than labor stories... namely how stupid and inconsiderate your men are. And I know that you women LOVE talking about your stupid men.

Secondly, if you don't have booze at your shower, you KNOW at least one of the guys is showing up with an emergency case of beer.

Third, you don't have to worry about the games, because the minute the baby dolls and diapers come out the men will start complaining, looking uncomfortable and going outside to start the cars. And who can play a game with 50 cars idling loudly outside? Also there will be some honking of the horns.

All that being said, do not invite me, because I'm the exception to the rule. I'd rather sit around and talk than watch football, I don't drink, and I love games. Even the stupid ones. Yeah, I'm a real testosterone-fest.

tfg said...

Wow. Yet another reason for me to be thankful that I am hoo-haless. I'll add it to the list right under: If I had a hoo-ha, I'd never leave the house.

Just Some Gal said...

This is perfect!! I had mixed drinks served at my "family" shower. Then the work baby shower that was thrown was at a mexican restaurant!! Nothing says redneck fun than drunk bosses talking about babies and horror stories. lol

I love this post.

ashley said...

my mother would shit in on your cocaine line if she read the number one rule. she loves games. i think she pushes people to have sex just so they can get pregnant, she can throw a baby shower, and she can have everyone play games. i just like when people get pregnant because youre allowed to throw the word 'preggo' around, and no one can get upset.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

I know that you would like your b**g to be funny. But when it is so helpful and true and honest and pithy and down-to-earth as this one, well..... It's funny.

Serious-wise, the best recommendations you make are:
1. Have booze
2. Invite the husbands/boyfriends.

Anyway, you're really sharp.

Clinton P. Desveaux said...

Well this sucks! I'm having a "meet my new daughter day" in a few weeks. By the way, I have a new pic up now too!

Beeb said...

I love this and I will have to link this to miss kendra so she can take notes!

As usual, you nailed it right on the head.

Sara said...

The baby shower we had for our second baby was at a park with moms, dads, and kids, with plenty of booze. Didn't you get the invite?

It's Me, Maven... said...

OY VEY! I have one to go to on the 21st! I had hoped that it would be a traditional Indian one (hubby's side of the family); however, the shower itself will be held at an ITALIAN resto. AND CO-ED!

I have no idea what I am in store for.

Ben said...

"2. Provide booze, I beg you."

The perfect solution KB.

Those gigs sound scary just from the outside looking in.

Cheers.

Ms. Mama said...

I've never been to a baby shower, and did not have one for myself. I find such things so greedy - here is my list of everything I need for my baby - now go buy me some of it! I have herad of women getting mad because no one bought them the $100 car seat on their registry...

From your description I am not looking forward to the first time I get an invite... Think it would be bad to bring my own booze?

Mighty Dyckerson said...

Karla my dear, if you were my woman, you'd be constantly going to baby showers as the guest of honor...because I'd be impregnating your hoo-ha every chance I got!

melissa.in.london said...

Ha! "...pummel her about the head and neck with their handbags..." Laughed out loud at that part!

As a non-mother who has attended way too many of these functions, I thank you. I swear that since all of the older women have been mothers that they secretly enjoy torturing us younger ones with the games their elders forced them to play. It's a conspiracy, you know.

I personally refuse to taste baby food. That "game" is just sadistic.

heidi said...

Girrrrl try going as a single childless woman! I'd rather push a head through my hoo-ha....

RitMeyer said...

Man, I hear you. We pretty much ended the wedding shower business last year. I thew 3 and there is only one "game'. I video tape your betrothed answering questions I made up and you are to guess whether the bride will know the answer. I mean, what better way to celebrate you soon to be wedding day then hearing your finance answer things like
-boxers or briefs
-missonary position, ole standbye or only if I throw my back out from the swing.

Baby showers have just started. I almost poked my eye out with one of those baby pins during the "steal the baby pin from the person who says baby" game.

You are saving lives here, Karla!

Chevy said...

omg, i totally wrote about this last year! but yours was way funnier.
http://www.littlefluffycloud.com/2005/03/my-clock-is-broken.htm

Carolyn said...

You forgot about the showers where they pass around each adorable gift because we all want to touch the wonder that is the gift!

And if you invite men, you have to call it something other than a baby shower. Even the lure of free alcohol won't cover up the stigma that they attended a traditionally female sport.

rebcram said...

Brighton jewelry... ha ha. You so hit the nail on the head with that one.

poo said...

I don't really remember your baby shower, because I was drunk. Was that that time there were a bunch of middle-aged women and a cake at your house? I thought it was kind of wierd that I had to thread my way through stacks of diapers to get to the booze.

gronce said...

Finally! Thank God I'm not the only one who feels this way! Everyone thinks I'm a raving bitch for rebelling against the asinine games. OY! I've stopped attending baby showers anyway. On top of that? I have NO IDEA how to shop for a shower. Get crap off the registry? It is SO much fun to buy a baby monitor. Make it stop!

Gerbera Daisy said...

Karla~ I LOVED this!!! You have really covered the subject of baby showers well. I despise playing games. I really like the booze factor. Another reason to have tha damn shower at your house is you do not have to worry about transporting all the shit home. It will be there for you to put away!! And the guys should absolutely be included!!

Janet said...

Amen, girl. Amen.

Zen Wizard said...

I was WITH you until the "invite guys"-part...

You ruined my schadenfreude with the possibility that I might have to GO to a baby shower someday...

Nicole said...

Amen.

Especially the part about the requisite exchanging of labor and delivery stories, as if there is a mother-of-the-year trophy up for grabs. Not to mention that this small talk is inconsiderately exclusionary and terrifying to those of us who don't yet have children, but have attended 153 baby showers this year for all of our mother-to-be friends.

And I am with you on the part about the games. I love games. But not at baby or wedding showers. If there must be games, at least make it Boggle or Balderdash or Yahtzee. Or anything besides smelling the diaper containing something that looks like poo, in an effort to decipher the brand of candy bar.

One more thing, though. I may be alone here, but I think it is just wrong to have a baby shower for your second, third, fourth, etc. child. I mean, really, doesn't that seem just a little greedy and unnecessary?

tigger said...

Maybe next time you'll be lucky like me. I was 1 of 3 hostesses and one of the hostesses just took over everything! And what did I do? I let her. I think I had to bring balloons. Yeah, baby, yeah!

mrtl said...

On a campaign here...

Remember to vote for Wave of Modulation for The Best of Blogs - Blog as Art starting January 10!

kay said...

What I have to say has nothing to do with showers, though I have been told I should go into the party planning business because I adore putting together parties and baby showers are the best.
Anyway what I was writing about was I had oral surgary on Friday and was in a haze of Vicodin all weekend and then when I came to discovered my children had destroyed my computer so I had to restore and reboot and lost everything! When I finally got it all together I started frantically trying remember where all my drugs,err, blogs werwe, So obviously I found you and I am so happy from this texs girl in missouri to that missouri girl in texas you make howl kaykay

Christi said...

My showers always sucked. I liked having them so I could get free stuff, but I'm pretty sure I dreaded going to them more than any other person there. I'm kinda slow when I open gifts (just the way I am), and my mom would yell at me every time to hurry the hell up. That was the highlight of every one of them...

I have to throw a friend a bridal shower next month. Any tips for me?