I like to think that I'm pretty clever. I've been walking through forests my whole life and I've never been upside-down hanging from a tree or in a pit with a tiger. It's because I'm pretty good at spotting traps.
And yet, despite all skills as an Eagle Scout, this last weekend I still found myself at a baby shower.
In my defense, it was a baby shower cleverly disguised as a barbecue.
My first hint that this might not be a regular barbecue was when I realized the host couple were registered at Target. Generally people don't register for a barbecue. Although I'm totally for getting this tradition started. I think it would really catch on.
You have been cordially invited to a BBQ at the Shinney residence on Tuesday, the 12 of Febtober. Please RSVP so we will have plenty of potato salad. The couple is registered at Albertson's and Chuck's Butcher Shop.
I've never been a big fan of showers of any kind. They're just way to feminine for me. I know I'm suppose to be a modern man and all that jazz, but if that means I have to go to a bridal shower and listen to women squeal after each present they open, screw that.
Besides, baby showers always seem to be for one of two purposes. Either for the parents to get a bunch of free stuff in order to recover some of the massive costs involved in procreation or for them to say one last goodbye to all their couple friends who don't have kids yet.
Have your first kid is a lot like getting married. It is a huge commitment, it is a major milestone in your life and once you do it, it's pretty much impossible to hang out with anyone who hasn't yet.
I went anyway, assuming that so long as somebody stood outside and turned large chunks of meat into food using fire, I could just focus on that and be able to shut out all the talk about onesies and spit up.
No such luck. I was thwarted by one of my oldest (and most delicious) nemesis of all time: sloppy joes.
And by the time we started playing games, all pretense of being anything but a baby shower was thrown out quicker than old coleslaw.
I'm not saying you can't play games at a barbecue. Far from it. There are a ton of really fun games that can be played in the context of a barbecue: baseball, horseshoes and “see who can fit the most jello in their mouth” for example.
However, one game you never play at a BBQ is “Guess how fat the hostess is.”
Playing this game will get you kicked out of most BBQs with grill marks on your face.
And yet, some how, this is perfectly acceptable at a baby shower.
Well we couldn't just guess like normal people would. That wouldn't be fun. We had to take string and make a loop the size we thought our ever expanding host would be. When we laid them all down next to each other, it became as obvious as the fat guy at the gym that none of the guys had any idea how big a pregnant woman should be (not even her husband which is discouraging).
Then we had to guess the weight and length of the baby when he is finally born.
This is another spawning tradition that I've never understood. Why do we have to measure our babies like fish? It just gives me the impression that if one isn't big enough we can just throw him back, or sneak him under our waders and hope the game warden (or doctor) doesn't catch us.
I also hate it because I have no real frame of reference to go off of. I have not real idea how big a baby should be at birth. You could tell me that the average infant is three inches long like a new-born kangaroo, and I would not feel comfortable calling you a liar.
Since I had no idea how many inches or pounds go into an average baby, I just said he'd be 6 1/3 crayons long and hoped for the best.
Hundreds of people have told me how heavy and how long their babies are, and I have paid more attention to infomercials about home meat dryers than I have to any of these announcements. I think it's because I don't have a kid yet. Once I do it'll be competition, at which point I'll start lying about the size of my posterity, just like I lie about the length and width of everything else I care about.
And seriously, why can't we just say tall? Babies are people too you know.
Still even despite the lack of an actual barbecue, I had a good time. I'm proud to say that I've survived a baby shower.
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go take a man shower. I still feel icky.
Steve Shinney is a veteran of many crappy barbecues who thinks that showers should be held for anyone for any major life event. He is currently planning a “just got an X-box” shower for himself.