There’s been an interesting culture shift in the past couple years regarding baby showers. In the “old days,” it used to be that showers were the domain of the female friends of the mother-to-be, giving the husbands and boyfriends a free afternoon to loaf around in their underpants and eat Manwich straight out of a saucepan. I call these the “glory days.”
But suddenly — and inexplicably — baby showers are no longer just for women. If you know anyone that’s about to have a baby, you’ve no doubt heard the phrase that sends a cold bead of sweat down every man’s back: “Couple’s Shower.”
There are two theories about the Couple’s Shower. The first theory is that it’s not just the mother that’s going to welcome a new baby into the world; both mother and father are starting a family together. Therefore, the baby shower should include both women and men. My theory is much more simple: women don’t want to give their men the opportunity to lounge around in their underpants eating Manwich straight out of a saucepan.
I know all this from experience. I’ve been to a few Couple’s Showers. And not only have I gone, I’ve held one at my house and was “asked” (read: “told”) to help set it up. I was instructed to write a portion of the invitation that would appeal to the men and incite them to attend. “Will there be beer?” I asked. “No.” “Can we watch TV?” “No.” “Can we play video games?” “No. But put that in so the guys will want to come.” During the shower, I heard one of the male attendees mutter, “I was told there was going to be an Xbox here.” Not only did it take tricks and lies to get men to come, but they made me do it. I sold out my fellow man, and I didn’t even get beer.
With little deviation, here’s what a Couple’s Shower looks like: the women sit on one side of the room chatting about due dates and Diaper Genies while the men mill about in a far corner glancing at their watches and wondering how it all came to this. Every once and a while, the women will say something like, “Isn’t that cute? Did you hear that, guys? Isn’t that just the cutest thing ever??” and the men will nod and then go back to deducing how they can turn the green-bunny-and-yellow-duckie-adorned tablecloth into a noose.
If you’ve ever been to one of these baby showers yourself, it could not be more clear that it’s no place a man wants to be. For one thing, there are myriad awkward conversations involving oogy terms like “speculum” and “delivering the placenta.” There’s also the matter of the “cute” games that are played. And by “cute” I mean “horrifying.” Games where melted chocolate bars are smeared into diapers and each person then has to smell and inspect said diaper and guess which candy bar it contains. Let me tell you: a melted Baby Ruth in a diaper is something no grown man should have to put his face into.
Beyond the games, there’s the matter of the gifts. Now don’t get me wrong: I have no problem with baby shower presents. It’s expensive to have a baby, and every little bit helps. But to ask a man to sit for an hour while every gift of tiny washcloths, tiny jumpers, tiny booties, tiny beanies, tiny towels, and tiny socks are met with ear-shattering “AAAAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!” is too much to ask. We get it: it’s cute because it’s tiny. And anything tiny will work. At the shower I attended the mother-to-be received a tiny lamp. It was plain silver with a white lampshade — no cutesie colors or animals or anything. When she unwrapped it, it garnered the same “AAAWWWW!!!!!” as everything else. You see, because it was tiny. Like a wittle baby wamp.
My dislike of Couple’s Showers should not be confused for lack of support or love for the couple having the baby. I’m very happy for people who are about to welcome a new life into this world. But if men have to feign excitement, why should we be forced to attend? So I propose separate showers. The women can fawn over their cute and tiny gifts, and the men can, oh, I don’t know, go to a shooting range. Or race go-karts. We’d still bring gifts for the father-to-be, so it’d be legit. Gifts like earplugs. Or a solemn promise to agree to never have a Couple’s Shower when the rest of us decide to have a baby. Now that’s showing support.