Really? Another Shower?


invited

I’m not sure how many friends I’m going to have after this, but for my own psychological wellbeing and hopefully yours if you can empathize, I’m going to scratch the surface of what it’s like to experience* wedding and baby shower season.

*survive

A shower can occur at any number of venues – a restaurant, a hall, a hotel, some weird aunt’s house. You never know which end of the earth you may travel to watch someone open a bunch of gifts they already know they’re getting.  Hell everyone in the room already knows what they’re getting. Because we all opened up our invitations and six little cards flew out telling us exactly where to buy them: Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, Target, Macy’s, Babies ‘R Us, Buy Buy Baby, Williams Sonoma (you’re an asshole), and tons more. Stores you’ll probably never step your broke-ass-foot into. My kitchen is filled with canisters from the Christmas Tree Shops and old dishware from relatives who pity me. Honestly, I’m fine with it. I have everything I need and when I don’t have something, guess what? I go out and buy it.

Let’s take a step back for a minute. In the days of yore, or so I am told, people registered for things because they were (at least a large percentage) moving out of their parents’ houses. They were starting a new life with someone and their clean slate meant no dishware. No candlesticks. No crock pots. So people had showers to acquire these items. My mother tells me some people even brought these items as wedding gifts. Can you imagine that? One gift for a married couple to congratulate them on their milestone? Perish that thought, people. Bury it far, far away. Now people get a whole year of presents and pictures and felicidades to celebrate the vows they have a 50% chance of making good on. They get to witness you staggering into brunch, wielding a massive box of mixing bowls and then, once the deed is done, they get to open up a birdcage full of personal checks and hundred dollar bills. I always picture them rolling in cash and cutlery. Raking it all into their suitcases and taking off for Aruba cackling.

But don’t you worry; they’ll be the first ones to complain to you about how all of that money didn’t even cover the cost of everyone’s plates! Gasp! Do you need a handkerchief? I’m sure you registered for one.  Also, whose fault is this again? Were you expecting to make money off of your nuptials?  Should I fill out my W-4 at the church door? Was a closet full of Williams Sonoma’s 2012 collection not enough for you? Why don’t you return it for cash now that we’ve watched you unwrap it for two hours on a Sunday we’ll never get back.

Now listen, I don’t mind giving my friends and the people I love presents. I think that getting engaged and married and having babies are all major life landmarks that deserve to be celebrated. And I like to think I give generously for my means. But I’m pretty sure you’ve already lived with this person for five years. I’ve been over to your house for dinner. I’ve seen all of the nicer, newer, jointly-purchased shit you have. And yet I’m buying you a blender?

“Well LeeMarie when it’s your turn you’ll do the same thing.” Nope. I won’t. For starters, what if I don’t get married? It’s not entirely outside of the realm of possibility. Secondly, what if I’m barren? People don’t say this aloud but hey –you never know. What if I’ve spent a decade of my life trying not to get pregnant and it was all in vain? Can’t exactly throw myself a big ol’ Barren-But-Give-Me-Gifts-Anyway party now can I? I mean, I am assuming I’ll get married and have kids at some point. But if I don’t, that’s it? I don’t get a party? I don’t get to register for wine racks? I’ll need them more than anyone!

And then there’s the entirely shallow and self-important issue of “getting back what I give out.” My father taught me how to bleed a stone, let me tell you that. The man drove a 1989 Ford Escort whose sides were rusting off. He had that car from the time I was six until the year I left for college. In high school I used to plead with my mother through tearful eyes not to let him pick me up from dances. Well guess which clunker-loving-fool is spending two weeks on a beach in Panama right now? Padre Cheapo. Since my parents retired at the ripe young age of 55, they’ve pretty much done nothing but travel. Past frugality is paying off very well for them. Probably because they didn’t drop a G-Note every time one of their friends got engaged.

In light of that fact, you can bet your ass I’ll be registering for a pepper grinder. For a room full of diapers. For a vacuum cleaner. For plates I’ll keep in my basement. For crystal champagne flutes I’ll use once a year. For everything. And I’ll have it all delivered to my house. I won’t make my friends watch me open it over a plate of eggs and yawns and mimosas. Everyone gets so excited about the mimosas. You know why? Because people need a drink to get through these things. I always befriend the cocktail waitresses immediately. I’m no fool. I was at a shower a few years ago next to some old lady who turned to me and said “I hope she finishes up opening the gifts by 4. I don’t like driving in the dark.” I’m with you, lady. We’ve been at it since 11:00AM.

And in case you’re not familiar with what goes down during those few blissful hours of time –we’re doing exactly what you think we’re doing. You know the last hour of work on a Friday when every minute is a year and every second is marked by the tapping of your own foot beneath your desk? Picture that feeling combined with a lot of forced smiling, picture taking, flowers and ribbons, trays of finger foods, fruit salads, cupcakes, chocolate covered strawberries, streamers, balloons, brightly packaged boxes, themes, games, weird favors you’ll never use like candles with the date on them or soaps shaped like fetuses. All of it.

Then we sit around playing reindeer games. And no one thinks they’re fun. No one. Grandma Ethel and her Alzheimer’s don’t even think they’re amusing. She’s asking to go to the casino. But we all sit there, nonetheless, playing “Fill In the Blank Vows,” “Pin the Baby in the Mommy,” “Wedding Word Search,” “Bridal Bingo,” “Guess the Baby Food,”  “TINKLE IN THE POT.” There are entire websites dedicated to these “games.” Pinterest practically exists for shit like this. We are all forced to sit around with golf pencils and sheets of paper, glugging our alcohol and bargaining with Jesus for our cell phones to ring with some kind of emergency soon. Please, Lord let it be before “Bridal Pictionary.”

Shower fatigue is something no one openly admits but secretly bitches to their close friends about. And it’s infecting us all.  “UGH I got invited to another shower. The whole registry is already picked over. I’m just gonna give her a gift card and call it a day. I hope it’s open bar.” Yet we’re all going to them. We’re showing up. We’re afraid if we don’t play nice no one will give us our presents when the time comes. Well, thanks a lot everyone, because now we’re all trapped. We’ve showered too many others. We showed up. We clapped and smiled. And we’ll be goddamed if we don’t get the same thing in return. It’s only fair.  We all created this monster together. It’s exhausting, cyclical and mind-numbing. I can’t think of one close friend who hasn’t vented to me about how little free time or money they have during wedding season. You’re flying here, you’re showering there, you’re booking this room, you’re renting this car, you’re buying this dress, you’re riding this plane, you’re purchasing this Keurig. You’re broke. You’re tired. You’re hungover. You’re angry. Just admit it out loud to someone or you’ll go nuts. Maybe don’t admit it to cyberspace—you can leave that to me.

It’s all we ever do anymore— struggle to keep up with each other. We aren’t rock bottom friends we’re fluffer friends. Filler friends. People who only show our shiniest faces to each other. Our smiling, charming, look-at-all-my-stuff faces. And all I can really hope in posting this is that my truest friends understand where I’m coming from. If I went to your shower or wedding, if I traveled, if I smiled, if I clapped, if I danced, if I wrote you a heart-felt note, I meant it. Was I bored sometimes? Oh probably. You were too and you know it. But I know that my real deal friends will be there to support me and my future endeavors. They will read this and laugh. They will continue to listen to me bitch about the travesties of society as we know it. And then they’ll buy me my well-deserved breast pump. And ship it to my house.

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10 thoughts on “Really? Another Shower?

  1. socialjerk says:

    Fucking YES. They register for an individual pan to cook each different food in. Egg cooker, waffle iron, panini maker, Foreman grill, grilled cheese machine…lord knows what they’re putting in the fancy pots and pans they demand as well. The narcissism can be mind blowing. “Don’t you want to watch me open nicer things than you’ll ever have, for four hours? Here, have a purse hanger.”

    Sorry, I just calculated that I’m spending minimum $800 on a friend’s wedding that I’m not even in.

    • Secretary of Shenanigans says:

      $800?? You got this wedding at a bargain! You must be able to stay at your OWN apartment! Or maybe you’re re-gifting something? Oh wait… nobody gives you gifts… because you aren’t engaged. How we all pity you for not having engagement photos all over the internet, Katherine. It’s a wonder you can sleep at night next to your awesome boyfriend who watches “Girls” with you.

  2. Austin Ashe says:

    Saying I empathize with this would be grossly inaccurate. Let me just say that I’m empathize with the idea that… “this shit is ridiculous.” Honestly, sometimes, I don’t know what is wrong with these ladies. Men get engaged, we have a stag (if you’re in CT) with food, 2 kegs and maybe poker and some music.

    If a man is going to be a father: Men smoke cigars and drink some scotch on the porch. If I asked a man to buy me diapers because I was bringing a little one into the world, I would expect to be slapped, and if the situation was reversed… I’d be doing the slapping.

    My feeling is, if you have a 401k, a decent job and no debilitating “habit” there is no reason for the community to surround your unborn child and shower you with gifts (pun intended).

    If you’re getting married, congratulations! You’ve found love, NOW, those people should be doing all that is in their power to remain relevant and not succumb to the wearing of elastic sweatpants, getting out of shape and being pissed when more social friends want to go out and NOT visit your newly decorated house (thanks wedding/baby shower) and watch a netflix DVD. Thanks, watching “How to train a dragon sounds like fun, but this weekend I’ll be forgetting how much I hate Monday over a 12 pack. – Btw, there’s a good chance that I introduced you to your spouse, so pay that shit forward.

    • Secretary of Shenanigans says:

      You nailed it, Austin – you found LOVE. For me and the journey that finding it has been, I really don’t need any further fanfare once it happens. We can get married in a shoe box and eat ramen and I will be like “JESUS WHAT TOOK YA SO LONG? cheers to us.” And twelve packs will be necessary until the day I die, married or not. And bottles of wine. And the occasional vodka mixie but I’ll save that for the bar crawls. And Saturday nights… And bridal showers…

  3. Jenny says:

    As someone who has put you and other good friends and family through both a wedding and baby shower, I just want to say that this post is great. No one likes sitting there watching someone open gifts; and to be honest, I got tired after 45 minutes. The baby stuff is cute but most of the people dont even know what half the stuff is! Hell, I didnt until I needed it. Anyway, great post, we are all thinking it! Xoxo

    • Secretary of Shenanigans says:

      Jenny! I didn’t even GO to your bridal shower so guess what? You’re in the clear! And I had chicken parm at your baby shower and got to see all the girls, so not all was lost at all! I mostly mean wedding showers of like… random women where you know no one else… and you’re stuck next to some aunt and you want to kill yourself. Love you!

  4. trisha says:

    LeeMarie – wish there were a good answer for this! Believe me, the people planning the damned showers see it as much of a burden as the invitees. I’ve often been told I was ahead of my time, but the first time I was getting married (engaged several times, chickened out every time, never regretted it either!) I told my mother that she was to put on the invitation that gifts would not be accepted. I wanted people to be there simply because they wanted to share in the day, not because they felt an obligation to show up with the then-considered-appropriate booty. I also told her that I wanted it announced that there would be no banging of silverware on glasses and anyone who did that would be asked to leave. Even back then I thought it was “queer” for couples to kiss on command. I bet she secretly cheered on the day(s) I called off my engagement(s), ha ha. (In retrospect, I’m thinking the guys may have also, even if it didn’t happen on the very day I committed the act.)

    And then there’s the spoiled little rats who feel that people are there to support their desired lifestyles. It’s pretty tough to look at a registry where the biotch in question has asked for many expensive gifts and then feel okay about showing up with the random can opener that was obviously thrown in for good measure.

    Why, people ask, is our society going to hell in a handbasket? Because we are full of selfish, self-centered, me-first people who like to live off the largesse of others – or they at least want to start out that way. Hey the latest is helping to pay for the honeymoon. What???? I went to a wedding where one of the things on the registry was a contribution toward the honeymoon. It was all set up in a neat little package.

    So what’s the answer? Will you ever weed out the selfish part of someone’s human nature if it’s aleady imbedded in there? Not a prayer. Will we soon see an end to the “barbaric” (ha ha) practice of becoming a poorer person to help enrich the life of another? Not a shot. So my answer to this is for the lady-in-waiting to have separate registries, one for the family who will be forced to maintain a tie to the person, for better or for worse, and another for everyone else. She can dump all of her high-end dreams on her family, and then she can show who she really is (as opposed to who she either THINKS she is, or who she aspires to be) to the rest of the world by registering for the more mundane but ever-so-necessary items in life.

    And by all means, if you’ve lived with someone for a good length of time, don’t embarrass yourself or your family by insisting on having some high-end affair (affair in the event sense). Get a few of your closest friends and sinning associates and quietly go off and do what you should have done in the first place. Get married dammit!

    🙂

  5. oldirtydiaper says:

    And why is there an engagement party, a bridal shower and a bachelorette party before the wedding? Every wedding I’ve been to has cost me at least 2 weeks’ paychecks. How many times are we getting together to celebrate the same thing? I enjoy going to these events MOST of the time (if the party is for someone I really like, anyway) but the amount of money that gets spent is RIDICULOUS.
    I had two baby showers because two were thrown for me…one by my mother, and one by my son’s father’s sister, who insisted on throwing one, too. I appreciated it, of course, I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but honestly I knew about 10 people there. At my own shower. They HAD to be invited to my baby shower, because they are related to my son’s father, but how many of them have been by to visit my son since he’s been born? None of them. But it was necessary to have a party for these people, apparently. If it were left up to me it would have been a bunch of my close friends, and the friends with kids of their own would be giving me things that their own kids had outgrown instead of spending money where it was unnecessary.
    But god forbid you DON’T have a big ol’ announcement and party to celebrate every big moment in your life. There were people who were actually upset that I didn’t ANNOUNCE my engagement or have an engagement party. Uhhh….what? And I’m sure when I get married there will be a LOT of people in the family that are offended that they weren’t invited to a big ol’ shebang, but we’re both in our 30’s and have almost everything we need, and we have a child so one thing we DON’T need is to spend a ridiculous amount of money on a big ridiculous party.
    You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. Either way, I’ll take a mimosa.

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