Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Me? Well, I'm Pretty Busy At Work...

(NOTE: Names and distinguishing details have been changed to protect the (somewhat) innocent.)

I spent Saturday afternoon at my friend AH’s baby shower.

Both AH and her husband have huge families, so that meant 3 things:

  1. TONS of gifts. Seriously, she got enough loot for FIVE babies.
  2. It was LOUD. 75 women in a country club with open bar and high ceilings. Need I say more?
  3. I did not know many of the women there. (you’ll read later on why this little tidbit is important)

AH looks great! She looks like she swallowed a basketball, with a big, round belly that protrudes from below her boobs. With only 6 weeks to go she’s maintaining one chin and 3-inch wedge sandals like a pro.

My mother-in-law (MIL) is invited to the shower, too, because she and AH’s mother have been good friends since they were kids. Because I'm a professional gift giver, we’ve had our gift since before the shower was planned. The minute I got the email from AH that she and her husband spent the weekend registering at Babies R Us, I called my MIL.

(BTW, is there anything more fun than running around a store with an electronic gun, creating a list of whatever gifts you want for other people to buy for you? I don’t think so.)

ME: “I’m looking at AH’s registry online now. There’s a TON of stuff here. Some of the big stuff is already gone. We should pick something soon.”

MIL: “You pick out something and just let me know how much I owe you.”

ME: “I’ll pick something today or tomorrow. We want to give something good. The last thing I want is for them to be calling out the gifts and for our names to follow the words ‘Nipple pads’.”

We are one of the first 15 women to arrive at the shower. The invitation says noon. It’s 11:58 and 80% of the people have not arrived. Do these people not have clocks?

The shower is being held at a country club, with table assignments and a four course meal. I pick up my place card, find my table and drop off my handbag.

I head directly for the bar.

Post libation I hit the fruit and cheese table. Can’t drink my mimosa on an empty stomach!

By 12:30 mostly everyone (including the mommy-to-be!) has arrived and we take our seats.

I am seated at the “head” table with AH and all of her high school friends. I went to high school with all of them, too, but I was two years ahead, so even though I know them (and all about their current lives) we didn’t hand out in the same social circles. I know AH and one of the other girls from our years dancing together.

I am the oldest one at the table, and the only one who isn’t a mother (or mother-to-be).

I think there must’ve been some sort of electromagnetic forcefield on the main entrance of the country club that automatically turns you into “mommy mode”

Apparently I entered through the side door.

Lunch begins, and so do the “here’s-what-my-child-does-can-yours-do-that-you-have-no-idea-what-it’s-like-having-two-kids-I-have-no-time-for-myself” conversations.

NP: “My daughter has eaten the same meal every day for one year. Grilled cheese. That’s all she will eat. It blows my mind.”

I’m no Dr. Spock, but it seems to me that a toddler that’s a picky eater is not uncommon.

ME: “Well, it could be worse. Her favorite food could be marshmallow peeps.”

(laughter from the table)

Hey, comic relief from the non-mommy!

NP: “This morning she asked for soup for breakfast. So I gave it her. But she’ll only eat clear soup, with nothing in it.”

And by “soup” you obviously mean “chicken broth”.

JL: “Ugh, my two fight all of the time. One of them is constantly crying or bleeding. I can’t turn my back for a second.”

This sort of mommy one-upping goes on through the pasta and salad courses.

Finally, our lunches arrive and the table is quiet as everyone digs in.

And then the conversation turns to Yours Truly.

CB: “You don’t have any kids, right? So what have you been up to?”

What I want to say:

‘Well, there’s not much for a thirty-something woman to do besides give birth, so I’ve had lots of free time on my hands. I applied to be on The Price Is Right. I’ve taken up basket weaving. I joined Jazzercise.’

What I actually say:

ME: “I’ve been pretty busy at work. We’ve been pitching lots of new business, which is fun.”

I wow them with stories of working until 2am and traveling in limos. For a second, my job even sounds glamorous to me.

Then, it’s gift time. We’re all to pick gift-opening jobs, such as “announcer”, “runner” and “trash picker upper”.

AH hands me an excel spreadsheet filled with names.

AH: “I’m giving you the important, high-stress job.” I do high-stress Monday through Friday, do I really need it on Saturday, too? “Plus, you have the best handwriting.”

THAT I agree with.

My job is to record the gifts next to each guest's name to make it easy for AH to write her thank you notes. Sounds easy enough, right?

The list is divided into two groups, one for each family, and both are alphabetized to make it easier for me (yeah, right). I don’t know 85% of the people on the list.

This gift opening process is so well planned and executed that it could put NASA and government officials to shame.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • First, two “Gift Openers” start unwrapping packages about 10 minutes earlier. “Trash Picker Upper” ensures all of the paper makes it into over-sized trash bags.
  • Next, the opened gifts are handed to guest of honor and the cards are passed to “Gift Announcer”. Gifts are showcased, gift-giver announced.
  • “Gift Runners” tape cards to gifts and them to the Opened Gift Area.
  • “Gift Recorder” (moi) writes down all of the gifts next to the appropriate name.
And….we’re off!

NP (Gift Announcer): “This gift is a receiving blanket, booties, baby monitor and stuffed monkey from Aunt Carol!”

Aunt Carol. Aunt Carol. Aunt Carol.

There are 5 Carols on my list.

ME: “What’s Aunt Carol’s last name?” I hiss to no one. I try to remember the gift, but can only recall the stuffed monkey.

NP: “Our next gift is the jogging stroller from Jackie, Robin and Susan Jones, and Maddie and Auntie Evie Bignoti.”

Aunt Carol??? Aunt Carol??? Can somebody tell me Aunt Carol’s freaking last name???

AH (whispering to me): “Are you okay? You getting everything?”

ME (frantic, not taking my high-stress job very well): “What is your Aunt Carol’s last name???”

AH: “Hisselman.”

Got it!

I hear lots of oohing and aahing and see NP holding up a Diaper Geenie.

“The best gift ever!” someone yells from the crowd.

NP: “This is from Jane!”

ME (annoyed, to NP): “Hey, do you think you can say the last name of the gift giver?”

Amazingly, gift opening takes only an hour. Everyone who is present is accounted for, except for Mildred. Not sure who she is. I am confident that AH, by process of elimination, can figure out what Mildred gave her.

On the ride home, my MIL and I compare notes and gossip.

MIL: “I don’t know about you, but I could use a drink.”

Oh, baby, could I ever!

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