Modern men face a peril that didn’t exist twenty years ago: couples showers. How did this happen? At my recent baby shower, I had two hours to ponder this unseemly trend.
In the glory days, whenever a shower was planned, associates with a “Y” chromosome had to vacate the premises in advance and avoid coming within one hundred yards during the event’s duration. Someone apparently thought our feelings were hurt by the exclusion –- she obviously didn’t know how much fun we were having behind her back –- and we’re officially “allowed” to attend now.
Now here we sit, staring forlornly at the host’s unplugged television, hearing the women talk to my pregnant wife about Pitocin, Braxton Hicks, and other foreign singers.
The Hostess serves cake, reminding us that a random slice has a little plastic baby inside. Apparently, whoever eats that slice will be the next expectant parent!
After applying the Heimlich Maneuver to Herb Steinberg, we congratulate him on his upcoming fecundity and proceed to the baby-themed mad lib copied from a barely legible fax sheet pulled from one of the ladies’ folders at work. Our folders have barely legible pornography. Theirs have party ideas.
The mad lib isn’t fun, but props to the host for the inventively filthy nouns he filled in. The guys appreciate the humor; the Hostess does not. I’m betting the host will NOT be the next expectant father.
Salvation arrives via Willard Slocombe’s beer-stuffed cooler. The Hostess is annoyed. Apparently, she intended there to be no alcohol at this party, out of empathy, solidarity or something like that for my wife.
Only somebody forgot to tell Willard. Or maybe Willard resorted to that ages-old guy trick, pretending not to have heard. What wife could doubt that?
However he did it, Willard saves the day. The sound of pop-tops on the back porch is invigorating, like a 21-gun salute to our restored masculinity. (Okay, not so much restored as temporarily on loan by the distaff ones inside.)
We drink, laugh and grunt for a few minutes. I tell them the worst thing about pregnancy is the six-week forced celibate period afterwards. They laugh until my wife’s voice drifts out of the heretofore unnoticed open window: “Ten, if you’re lucky.” The guys bow their heads in a moment of respect.
We proceed to the moment I’ve been dreading, the unwrapping. Men should not participate in this. There should be a law -– any man receiving a gift must unwrap it alone, in the sanctity of his own easy chair. Preferably in the dark. Within a few days, maybe his wife can help him write a thank-you note.
Otherwise, we don’t know how to open gifts. We can’t react properly. Women fawn. Men grunt. If you listen carefully, you might hear a “thanks” within that grunt.
The first gift is clothing; I believe she calls it a 1-Z. That must be the size or something. She holds it up and asks isn’t it cute? All I see is bugs all over it. Granted, they’re pink and blue with embroidered smiley faces, but they’re still bugs -– something that elicits shrieks in the bathroom or the kitchen, but is apparently adorable in the nursery. When I mention this out loud, she gives me a look that says grunting would now be preferable, and that we are perhaps up to fourteen weeks of celibacy.
Oh, good, a set of bottles, complete with a sponge and a nipple brush. Looks a little coarse to me. I ask my wife if she doesn’t think that’s going to hurt. I get the same look and decide to grunt from here on. We get through the rest of the gifts without incident.
As we’re leaving, someone asks what we’re hoping for. I tell them a girl. Why? Because a boy will grow into a man, and a man will grow into a husband. Do you really think I want my son to have to attend one of these?
The look on my wife’s face leads me to think I shouldn’t have made that joke in front of the Hostess. I suspect my wife is now very mad at me. After the door closes, my suspicions are confirmed. She utters one word: “Eighteen.”
“Weeks of celibacy! Eighteen. And counting.”
Then she says what she thinks is the coup de grace, and I have to act disappointed: “That’s the last time I bring you to one of these.”
Worth every week…