I’m going to tell you is what it’s like to go to a wedding or baby shower, in case you’ve never had the pleasure.
Just think of it as beautiful, nice-smelling social anxiety buffet. Traditionally, it features all female guests of bride/mother-to-be. Even if there is a dude involved in this upcoming major life event, he does not have to come. If he is responsible for any of these pre-wedding/baby events, it’s basically beer drinking. So, since these “parties” are mostly women who barely know each other and span all ages and demographics and arenas of the featured female’s life, they’re crazy awkward. Showers are my very least favorite female-related ritual that does not have to do with menses moon dances. (We can’t talk about those. There’s a code.)
You will see that, while the practice of throwing showers is nice because newlyweds/new parents get a bunch of stuff to outfit their sex pads/nurseries, and while I personally had delightful showers that I am grateful for, showers are generally very terrible and should be abolished.
It starts when you arrive at the party at 2pm, old lady witching hour. You sit in your car in the driveway for a good 9 minutes, sports psychology-ing yourself to walk inside. (“You can do this! Bitch, get yourself inside, it’s what we’ve been training for! You were made for this! Don’t let your teammate down! She is counting on you! Afterwards, yes you can stop for Wendy’s on the way home. Stop asking. Sure, yes to the french fries dipped in frosty. Will you please just go inside now.”) When you do walk in, the smell of lipstick meets you in the doorway. It’s stretched across all the polite, close-mouthed smiling lips as far as the eye can see. There is small bad food in fancy bowls and coffee, if you’re lucky, and booze-less punch, if you’re not.
You shuffle in, doubting your cardigan/skirt uniform choice, and put your gift on the big heap of gifts that look exactly the same as yours, like in “Christmas Vacation.” You’re a little sheepish because you know the female person of honor is going to open the gifts they already know they’re getting…because they picked them out…and told you to get them…and watched them come off their online registries, one-by-one. But what YOU as a guest did, see, what YOUR job was, is you paid for the thing and you wrapped it in shiny colored paper and put bows all over it and placed it on the pile. Good on you!
Next you sit in a folding chair and wait uncomfortably until the bride/pregnant person acts adequately startled opening the gift that they know you know they know they’re getting.
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, functional member of society, or a how-to manual on regaining the pelvic floor of the mom-to-be after she’s dusted it in childbirth. I guess, we’ll worry about that later, but for now, TINY SOCKS BY THE THOUSANDS. For wedding showers, newlyweds don’t NEED a houseful of beautiful museum pieces, but it sure helps get through the weird, harsh parts of early marriage that they can walk pensively through their houses, touching fancy framed wedding pictures and decorative fruit bowls, doesn’t it?
As you sit up straight in the cardigan you now regret ever having purchased, making the smallest small talk you can make with the stranger next to you, she will tell you her birth story. Oh, yes, she will. Whether this is a wedding or baby shower. And certainly whether or NOT you asked. You were aiming for, like, tepid approval of the inevitable weather changes or maybe some local town gossip, but instead you get all her vaginal gore.
Baby showers are a bunch of women sitting around, staring at the baby ship, the S.S. Mama, just willing for it to dock. There is much discussion of the ship’s parts and when it might land and how uncomfortable it will be to unload. Then, all the current or former uterus owners in the room will feel compelled to share their own cargo unloading stories. Of course, 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 mayor and vet). At wedding showers, people might share some tales of their own weddings, but typically only the people who have been married in the past 3 years. Everyone else has already divorced/killed their spouse and don’t want to relive it. But that won’t be you, hahaha, because for you everything will be great.
If you find that you’re having trouble keeping down your finger sandwiches, it’s because everything is really, really pretty, and too much pretty induces nausea in most adult mammals. Showers reinforce women’s need to perpetually pretty-up everything. There are fucking. Bows. Everywhere. Everyone babbles about patterns and textures and style. Do you know what parents of a newborn need most to survive infancy? Not style. They need to NOT worry about fabrics because those fabrics are about to be shat on and it’s best not to be too attached to them. Do you know what newlyweds do not need? Fancy dishes. Do you know why? Because the first year of marriage is a lot of work and those lovely 16-piece china sets will make great throwing disks when they really want to take each others’ heads off.
You sit there stewing about how women aren’t ruling the world because they’re too busy decorating themselves, babies and houses. You’re THINKING, “eww, gross, stop it” but you’re SAYING, “what a lovely diaper cover. I wonder if they have it in the paisley.”
There might be games, and they are pretty sad, usually. Some of them involve diapers and pudding. I shit you not. (Get it?) Or possibly folding or hanging tiny clothing or making wedding dresses out of crepe paper. It’s all very 1950’s Barbie’s Dream House. Most often one game will involve saying/writing down some advice for the lady in the hot seat. The advice everyone gives is abominable. It’s all shallow platitudes because no one wants to scare her off from the huge, scary thing she’s about to do. Parents of newborns need to be told that they’re going to fuck things up, a lot, because it’s impossibly hard to build a person, but we all fuck it up and yet still most of us make it out alive. They need baby sitters, they need nipple cream, they need Maxi pads, they need help. They don’t need to be told to “sleep now, who knows the next time you’ll get to sleep through the night!” Newlyweds need the same advice- “you’re going to fuck things up, a lot, because it’s impossibly hard to be/support another person, but we all fuck it up and yet still most of us make it out alive.” Don’t tell them not to go to bed mad. Going to bed mad is a better alternative than going to bed dead through murder/suicide.
It’s possible I’m cynical.
My idea of a perfect shower- either baby or wedding- is at a bar or an arcade with lots of skee ball. With girls AND boys. The boys don’t get to NOT care about the baby or home maintenance and the girls don’t have to care too much. Everyone laughs at how insane the whole circus is and nothing is wrapped. There are no bows. There is a ridonc amount of chocolate and warm bread. If you have to give advice, it must start with a story about this one time that you really screwed up badly as a parent/spouse and how you recovered from it. Keep it brief, honest, and in good humor. Each guest should swear a commitment to be the woman/couple’s village who will help them survive the hard stuff. Each person should give them a voucher that commits them to saving them when they need saving.
You can still give little nets full of Jordan Almonds as a shower gift. That shit is delicious.