I didn’t plan my own wedding. I did virtually nothing to execute the event beyond select the dress and lick icing from china plates. I did go out of my way to call the DJ my mother had hired to make sure he knew I wasn’t being sarcastic with my list of dance songs. When Mom asked me if I wanted to fly out to Arizona to meet officiants, I said, “I guess you could just call Father Dale; He was my childhood priest, after all.” To which she replied, “He’s in prison, doll.” So I authorized her to choose an unknown pastor from the phone book, preferably one without a mug shot, and I promised I would be satisfied with his or her ability to recite words and sanctify our union.
Because I have always been masterful at outsourcing the planning of these types of events, I remain, to this day, blithely clueless about the etiquette behind addressing invitations to couples with different last names, the proper location of a salad fork, or what a person should do with Jordan almonds beyond certainly not eat them.
Given the status quo, no one was more surprised than I by my offer to plan and host my sister-in-law’s baby shower. I must have been overcome with resounding joy that someone other than myself was pregnant that I felt I should be responsible for commemorating the occasion. After a quick clean urine catch to ensure her pregnancy had not been transmitted to me – I’m convinced it happens this way for some – I was ready to assemble some over-complicated task lists and buy some gender-neutral newborn shit.
The danger in planning a baby shower when you live with someone both related to the guest of honor and who knows firsthand of your ineptitude at managing a budget and deciphering a catering menu is that they self-appoint the title of co-planner whether you want them to or not. Matters are further complicated when this person is a male. While he may possess prodigious ability to spend prudently and point a confident finger at crabcakes over shrimp skewers, he has neither endured a pregnancy or, arguably more grueling, a baby shower. He doesn’t speak stork. He doesn’t appreciate a crustless finger sandwich. He doesn’t value an infused sparkling water. He doesn’t appreciate a Lilith Fair party mix. And he sure as hell has no capacity for talk of crowning.
Alas I was stuck with my husband as my shower co-planner. We were not just planning a Jack and Jill baby shower; We were Jack and Jill planning a baby shower. And in this nursery rhyme, Jill fell down and broke her crown.
And Jack stepped right over her to go buy a party keg.
If you find yourself mired in party planning with a man who is not Colin Cowie, take heed because this process is going to be like the Invasion of Normandy: Nocturnal parachute landings with potato chips and sour cream dips, massive air attacks with Styrofoam coolers, and amphibious landings of sheet cakes with footballs piped onto it all while you lay huddled against your bunker of Martha Stewart brand paper decorations.
You must overcome his dead-eyed stare at the mere utterance of the word theme. In his view, themes are reserved for pornos or computer desktop wallpaper. Unless you want a baby shower designed around barely legal Asian cheerleaders or Bald Eagles, you’ll need to establish this unilaterally and keep veto power at the ready.
You needn’t trifle with hiring a valet service or alerting the neighbors to the flotilla of parked cars in front of their homes. He will point out, prosaically, that the best place for guests to park is on the front lawn.
The notions you had of an assortment of oversized glass containers dispensing vividly colored spritzers fade into the ether as you see him exiting the grocery store with two carts loaded with 30 packs. When you chide him for buying beverages befitting a Super Bowl party, he combatively unsheathes a few bottles of White Zinfandel.
Not that you are an expert in the arena of intricate party foods, but you know the table should be a harvest of edibles that are cumbersome to pronounce or, at very least, to spell: Radicchio, Frisee, Arugula, Fennel. And it all has to be festooned with sauces that are even more complicated: Pico de Gallo, Pesto, Aioli. Don’t even think about a pasta or potato salad because that shit needs to be Quinoa or Couscous, and it had better be Israeli Couscous because the regular kind is so passé. As you labor through the order with the caterer, defaulting to pointing at the items over articulating them, your co-planner will interject his demands for verboten food stuffs every caterer disavowed upon getting licensed. Pizza, Buffalo Wings, and Meatballs. You smile meekly as he explains that the guests who are not pregnant, not female, and not worried about consuming copious amounts of nitrates would like to be considered too.
There is no money left for favors because he understood that element from the list to be favors that he can ask for during this process, like backrubs and picking up his dry cleaning.
In the end it will all turn out fine, as ours did. The guests were given food and drinks, and a good time was had by all just chatting and reminiscing. My co-planner even made a few game-time decisions, like to rent a tent due to the ominous cloud cover, that eclipsed my fear he was going to convert the presents table into one for beer pong. And, really, what baby shower guest doesn’t want to leave with a couple of Coors Lights for the road tucked into their bag?