30 women & a baby: The true story of baby showers
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As much as we like to think equality between the sexes has come a long way, baby, there is still one giant gap that exists between men and women. Alas, pending some major medical breakthrough, I don't foresee this gap ever being bridged.
Yes, it's sad but it's true. In a recent study it was found that 99.9 percent of all babies come from women.
I know, I know. You'd think that since we've put three women on the Supreme Court, we could get at least a few men knocked up, but apparently the medical community is much too busy with other stuff, like curing cancer and finding new poisons to inject into our faces to combat wrinkles.
To be honest, I'm actually all right with the fact that my gender is shouldering this burden alone (or miracle, for those of you who are more of the "glass is half full" mind-set).
But what I am not all right with is that this biological difference gives men another Get Out of Jail Free card. Despite the fact that it takes two to make a baby, women are the only ones who are required to attend the dreaded (insert dramatic music here) baby shower.
Oh sure, maybe not all women hate baby showers. I once read a study that said one leader will emerge out of every group of 20 people. I have a feeling those numbers also apply to the amount of women who actually enjoy the finger sandwiches, uncomfortable small talk and swapping of horrific birth stories that make up your standard baby shower. As for the rest of us...well, dental surgery is an apt comparison.
Now, don't get me wrong. I love babies. I love holding babies. I love smelling babies. I love handing babies back to their mothers when they start crying.
I also love mothers. I fully believe they deserve all the rights and privileges as the rest of us. In fact, some of my best friends are mothers.
So the problem with baby showers is not in the actual act of celebrating the mother-to-be and the brand new life she is carrying. That is a wonderful thing and should be celebrated. No, the problem lies in the mechanics of the event.
See, a baby shower is essentially when you thrust together a group of women who have nothing in common other than knowing a pregnant female and then give them nothing to do for a couple of hours other than to watch this chick open presents and drink punch (which doesn't contain even a trace of booze).
For you men out there reading this (all two of you who actually made it to this point before you flipped over to the sports section) and have no idea what I'm talking about, let me give you an inside glimpse at what you get to skip out on.
You ring a doorbell and are greeted by a perky woman who you've never met. As you're shuffled inside, you look around and see a bunch of women of all ages clustered in small groups of two or three, all of whom you've also never met. You stand there awkwardly until eventually some brave soul, usually propelled by the fact that they can't stand the awkwardness anymore, will leave her cluster and strike up a conversation with you. Now if you're both mothers, this tends to go well, since you can swap war stories about the time little Johnny got a toy army man stuck up his nose or the time little Aprill felt the need to announce to her entire second grade class that Santa Claus doesn't exist, thus causing a mini-riot at Hardin Elementary (true story).
However, if you are a woman of child-bearing age sans kids such as myself, the resulting encounter typically goes something like this:
Random Woman: "Hi."
Random Woman: "So, how do you know the mother-to-be?"
You: "I'm her second cousin. And you?"
Random Woman: "Her dentist's niece."
Random Woman: "Yeah."
You: "So, great potato salad, eh?"
Random Woman: "Oh yes, it's delicious."
At this point, one of you will generally make some lame excuse to get out of the conversation, such as, "Oh, I think that's my child on fire...will you excuse me?" This goes on for about an hour and then, just to add to the awkwardness, you will all be forced to play awkward baby-themed games with each other. These generally consist of smelling chocolate that's been smeared on a diaper (fellas, I'm not even kidding about that).
Then finally, FINALLY, it's time for the mother to open presents. This is the best part because now all you have to do to "ooh" and "ahh" over tiny baby outfits, many of them involving a hat intended to make the infant look like a tiny bear or dog.
Then at last, like a drowning man coming up for air, the last present is unwrapped and you are now free to leave. Just be careful not to trample grandma in your madcap rush to the door.
So gentleman, take it from me. Rejoice in your freedom from this barbaric tradition. And the next time your significant other returns from one of these things, be kind and give her the only known cure for the post-baby shower hangover: A glass of wine the size of her head.
Aprill Brandon is a reporter for the Advocate. We're just as relieved as you she's not a mother, yet.