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Another Portland Blog

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

 

An APB Special Investigation: the Secret World of Baby Showers

If you're male you may have heard of them. Your wife, a former girlfriend, your sister, your kid's preschool teacher, Malin Akerman and even your grandmother have all no doubt participated in them.

Baby showers.

What are they? What happens during them? What exactly is a "white wine spritzer" and why are they consumed during these peculiar, typically "gals-only" events? I was recently invited to a rare co-ed baby shower at an undisclosed location outside of Portland and I decided to investigate the unusual customs and rituals involved. Here's a glimpse into a world rarely seen by men in America.

This particular baby shower was attended by a few dozen women ranging in age from their 20s to their 60s. Despite the open invitation, only five other males dared participate. Upon arrival and after placing a gift on a dinning room table I was immediately asked if I would like a white wine spritzer. Unfamiliar with the appropriate decorum of this proposal but eager to avoid offending anyone, I decided not to request a Jack and Coke instead and accepted the offer.

The spritzer was, indeed, tasty and went rather well with the all-grain chips and low-fat dip served, both of which I was assured would not "go straight to my hips." After being allowed to mingle for an hour as further guests arrived, everyone was called into the kitchen for a series of games.

If you are a sensitive male, you may wish to avoid looking at the grainy, spy-cam images below. You may find them disturbing.

The first game consisted of everyone attempting to determine the width of the expectant mother's stomach with rolls of yellow ribbon. Each participant cut a piece of ribbon and handed it to the hostess, who stretched each one around her belly. The two closest guessers won DVDs. During the game, the women in attendance all began hooting, hollering and consuming copious amounts of white wine (no doubt to encourage further hooting and/or hollering). I cannot tell you why this happened. Perhaps yellow ribbon has an effect on females at baby showers similar to that of NCAA tournaments and domestic beer on their male counterparts.

Fascinating.




After the ribbon was put away, the second game began. A variation on Scattergories, the participants were asked to come up with as many words as possible beginning with the letter c in a series of baby-related categories. I came in third place, earning myself neither a copy of Labyrinth or The Princess Bride.

Next came the presents. After the expectant mother opened each one, the attendees began making coo-ing like utterances of admiration, not unlike certain western finches during nesting rituals. Each gift was passed around the room for further inspection. Clothing, "onesies" in particular, were the recipients of the greatest amount of reverence and discussion. My gift, two Walter the Farting Dog childrens books, didn't earn much reverence and nary a coo but were instead the subject of much heated scrutiny.




The hostess immediately began a quiet, tense discussion with the expectant mother and the older women in the room. Despite causing what is most assuredly a serious breech of etiquette (male-centric potty humor + baby showers = not good), I was allowed to stay for cake but I was denied further access to the wine.

The shower lasted around four hours and concluded with the expectant mother hugging attendees as they departed. All in all, it was a lot like Sex and the City: The Movie but without sex, cities, or, really, anything that was actually in Sex and the City: The Movie. Not that I've ever seen it (*ahem*).

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