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Sunday, May 07, 2006

Just for Men: the Secrets of that Female Rite of Passage-the BABY SHOWER

Okay guys, here it is. This is like being at a sorority hazing. I'm going to let you in on the secrets of baby showers. Usually men are not allowed, so they have no idea what actually goes on at these things besides the opening of presents. Having now attended probably 10 of them including one yesterday that is fresh in my mind, I feel qualified to describe the typical event to you.

First, you get an invitation in the mail, usually with ducks on it or in pastel colors. There may or may not be hints in the invitation as to where the person is registered (Babies R'Us and Target are the big 2) and there may also be a command to "bring diapers!". So you RSVP, go off to the store and pick out the presents. Note that if you aim to go to Babies R' Us, first of all there are not any in Los Angeles any more. There are some in the Valley and in the South Bay, but none in LA proper, or other Westside cities. But anyway, you can go to Toys R Us, which is the sister store. There are still plenty of those on the Westside. There, you can get a copy of the registry by waiting on line at customer service, which is akin to being at the DMV.

When you finally get to the front of the line, you can ask to have a registry version printed which shows only the items available and in stock in the store. I highly recommend this because Toys R' Us will have only about 2 of the same items as the ones your friend picked out from the bigger Babies R' Us. I can tell you which two, even. The diaper genie and the "boppy" pillow. My audience reading this post consists of some people who don't have children, so let me explain both items. Each one will be around $20-$25 so is a good base gift to get and then add some cute little items to go with. The diaper genie is a kind of trash can for smelly diapers which seals in each diaper with a twist of garbage bag around it so it doesn't stink up the nursery. The boppy pillow looks like a giant neck pillow, and goes around the mom's waist for propping up the baby while breast feeding. It's also good later for the baby to do "tummy time" on. Tummy time is a half hour a day exercise babies are supposed to do so they use muscles which would be weakened if not, since with new SIDS (crib death)information, doctors now advise not to put babies on their stomachs EXCEPT for this supervised "tummy time". Ok, I digress big-time but I knew you would not know what any of this stuff was so felt the need to explain. I wish blogger had footnotes and yes, I could make some but I don't have that much ambition.

So anyway, you buy the gifts and show up at the appointed place and time. As you walk in the door, you will be greeted by the host and given some kind of item, a pin or necklace or clothespin, (let's say it's a pin) and told that there is a game where you cannot do _X__ or your pin will be taken away. Anyone can spot you breaking the rule and can take your pin. The person with the most pins at the end of the shower wins a prize. The rule is usually "no crossing of legs" and no saying "________". The "________" can be "baby" or "cute" or anything else the host thinks up. What I usually do is give up right away and let the first narc type personality "catch" me crossing my legs, get my pin and then I don't have to think about it again.

Women from all generations will be at the shower, and everyone will be on their best behavior so as not to offend Granny. You will hear phrases you never hear your friends otherwise utter, like "oh my goodness", but you will NOT hear "the f word". Typical food is finger sandwiches, chips and dip and punch and cake. The cake is almost always done in, again, pastels. White cake with buttercream frosting is standard. Other games include crossword puzzles with baby words, fill in the blanks with nursery rhymes, and the memory game where you look at a tray full of baby items for 10 seconds and then write down as many as you can remember. Yesterday's shower had two that were new to me: guess which melted candy bar is in the diaper (melted Snickers, etc. stuck in a diaper to look like poop), and "gift-opening bingo". The host had found this game at a party supply store, I guess, with pre-printed Bingo squares with words like "bibs", "pink dress", "desatin", "teddy bear" and if she opened a gift appearing on your bingo card, you got to cover it with a sticker.

If the guest of honor has either not gained much weight or is not self-conscious about it, you may get the game of guessing her weight or waist size. Sometimes the "guess the waist size" game is done by ripping lengths of toilet paper into a length corresponding to the anticipated waist size of the pregnant person. "Guess the baby food flavor" is another popular game, which is played just like how it sounds. Also "what is this white powder?" (not ever cocaine, because of the above mentioned Granny effect) which can either be powdered milk, baking soda, baking powder, salt, talcum powder, or cream of tartar.

One game that makes a nice photo op is the "chug the bottle". Everyone gets a baby bottle filled with apple juice and has to suck it out through the nipple. Whoever finishes first wins.

The highlight of the whole shower is for the mom-to-be to open all of her gifts and everyone oohs and ahs over everything. Miraculously, people manage to choose different presents, even without a registry. Although she'll get a lot of the same type of thing, (onesies) I haven't yet seen a mom open the identical pink dress from more than 1 person. One person, usually the host or another close friend, acts as the stenographer and keeps track of who gave what, for the thank-you notes. Later it will be all a blur so the list comes in handy.

After the presents and cake, people start heading out the door and there is always someone who neatly folds the gift bags in case the mom-to-be would like to reuse them. Then the men of the house start appearing home again and eat the leftover cake. That's pretty much it. Now you know what goes on!


digital janitor said...

That event sounds like the seventh circle of hell.

Brighter Schemata said...

oh and p.s. none of the showers people threw for me were like the typical shower i described! in a good way, they were much cooler. jenna's had a chocolate fountain!

jenna! said...

For the record, my shower ROCKED, as noted by B above.
-No games.
-No pastel cake.
-Rockin' food.
-the previously mentioned chocolate fountain.