Show of hands, who seriously thinks that couples showers – whether of the bridal or baby variety – are a good idea? Wanting men to be somewhere is a very different thing from wanting men to want to be somewhere. And make no mistake, there are two kinds of men in the world, those who don’t want to be at couples showers, and liars.
In fact, studies show that these events interest men only the first time they are invited, and for a moment think Kohler showerheads might come into play. As soon as they realize their mistake, they’re pretty indignant if it’s a wedding shower, and downright frosty if it’s a baby shower. There are worse ideas, like recruiting U.S. Marines at Burning Man, but this one ranks right up there.
A wedding shower at least has a puncher’s chance of occurring at night, with cocktails and without those border collie types who nudge men away from one another and toward the living room. Note that we resist this herding not to be difficult, but because the warning is literally written in our DNA: nothing good ever happens in a living room. It’s where your mom sat you down to tell you that your dog had been flattened by an El Camino, and that repeating the second grade was actually a good thing for you. Plus if you squint, a wedding shower can almost seem like a normal party.
By contrast a baby shower is usually a Saturday afternoon affair, invariably conflicting with a good college football game, for showers never seem to be in the summer. No beer, empanadas if you’re lucky but more likely ceviche or quiche, and never, ever any meatballs. Will you hear a lot of Norah Jones over the next three hours? As sure as night follows day.
Once in the living room you learn that the very chaperones who shooed you away from the kitchen television now expect you both to mingle with women other than your wife and to have pithy things to say to them. But here’s the catch: the very people most likely to have a shower in their honor are also the ones most likely to keep the obvious topics, like the baby’s gender, a state secret. This makes the conversations forced in all the ways they wouldn’t be if they occurred in the waiting area at Jiffy Lube:
Me: So, are you having a boy or a girl?
Expectant Mother: Oh, we’re not going to find out.
(This is better than “we know, but we’re not telling anyone.” Seriously, just lie. If I’d known you put such a premium on honesty, my RSVP would not have said, “we look forward to attending.”)
Me [looking at wristwatch]: That’s great ceviche.
They are also the ones most likely not to share the chosen name for the little snowflake:
Me: Well, boy or girl, do you have the name picked out?
Expectant Mother: Of course we do. We’re just not going to share it with anyone until the baby is born. We want everyone to hear at once.
Me [looking at wristwatch]: Loving this quiche.
And to overshare family history. As shower problems go this one is high-class, because it bleeds the clock without you having to say anything. However, if the baby shower is at an apartment and you are standing by a window, at some point you will gaze out in search of an awning below and, finding one, wonder would that break my fall?:
Expectant Mother: I wanted to name him James if it’s a boy, but Derrick had a second cousin named James and he says James always had sort of a weird dairy smell about him. Worse in the summers. Turned out it was glandular, and prescription deodorant fixed it, but Derrick’s pretty dug in. I guess I can see his point. That’s what I love about Derrick, he makes his mind up and sticks to the plan. But listen to me ramble…
But worst of all, they who tell you the atrocious name they’ve chosen and instantly expect you to love it as they do:
Expectant Mother: The baby was conceived in early October, which was when we were vacationing in Western Australia. And “Perth” just works perfectly for a boy or a girl, don’t you think?
Me: I’m just glad you weren’t in nearby Cockburn.
Expectant Mother: Excuse me?
Me: I said are there any empanadas?
It’s not like everything that doesn’t occur naturally is bad. Mixed doubles is a perfectly good way to spend a Saturday afternoon, that is, if you haven’t already committed to a baby shower. And mixed nuts bring some nice synergies when you are snacking. Well, that’s pretty much it. So let’s just agree to disagree on this one, like we did with Harold and Maude.