Beware of spontaneous showers

A gross misjudgment led me to a place I — nor any man — belongs. It was like Jake Sully from Avatar finding himself surrounded by the Na’vi, only with slightly fewer visible spears and dragon rides and considerably more estrogen. There were strange sights, smells and customs I didn’t understand. I was a Pilgrim in an unholy land and there was no guarantee I would make it out alive.

A bridal shower.

The bridal shower is different than a bachelorette party, in that there are fewer artificial pieces of the male anatomy adorning the venue and participants. With the bridal shower, you are to buy the bride gifts. For the bachelorette party, you may also bring gifts. However, for the actual WEDDING, you are supposed to also bring gifts. There is also something called a wedding shower, which, and you may see where this is going, requires a gift! The only difference are the gifts for the wedding shower are supposed to, in theory, be for both the bride and groom, though a groom has yet to receive one. If that ever happened it would promptly be returned for something for the bride, as the gods intended.

I was peer-pressured into attending because I had something the bridal shower girls wanted desperately: a chubby baby. Babies are like crack for ladies, especially when they’re clustered in groups surrounded by a cheese plate. Meanwhile CHUBBY babies are like super crack, assuming there is something called “super crack.”

Lack of sleep impaired my judgment and I agreed to attend. Like an idiot, I didn’t even try and use the baby as a bargaining chip. What I should’ve said was:

“I’ll bring him on the condition you’ll have a helicopter fueled and on waiting, $6,000 wrapped with a rubber band and stuffed into the toes of a tube sock and the complete series of Seinfeld on DVD with ALL the bonus features.”

Below are my first-hand observations from studying this sacred ritual.

Dear God. There are So. Many. Ladies. Did I accidentally walk into a fabric store? I’m very uncomfortable. I want to leave but they’ve all noticed me. Like a spooked gazelle, I froze and stared back. Nobody is moving or blinking and I’m so incredibly freaked out.

Though they’ve looked in my direction, very few seem to look at ME. Perhaps if gathered in large groups their vision transforms into that of a T-Rex and can only sense movement? No, that’s ridiculous. Presence of chubby baby must be providing camouflage. Considering slowly and carefully placing baby down on floor like an armed robber surrendering his weapon and gently nudge-kicking him over to them before making a break for it.

At great risk I broke the silence.

“I am friend,” I announced, then slower, “frieeeeeennnnd.”

I could tell they didn’t understand. Then I held up the baby, which caused an in-unison cooing. A chant to some unseen god? Perhaps my son is the chosen one? He looked at me uncertain.

“Sorry, dude,” I told him. “We’re outnumbered and I’m a faster runner than you, mostly because your defense is to lay there and slobber. If this turns sour it’s every man for himself.”

Everyone is in a circle — a Circle of Ladies. Why are they sitting in a circle? I cannot rule out just missing a cockfight or some kind of Fight Club, which, now that I think about it, is probably how bridesmaids are chosen.

It appears some sort of gifting ritual is occurring. As the gifts are opened, the Council has an underling describe the gift and scrawl the gift-giver’s name in a little girly notebook so apparently the bride-to-be can send a proper thank-you note instead of just saying “thanks” verbally to the person’s face and being done with the whole deal.

“No, Sarah, you will get a $4 card in the mail in two days that has my signature that you will throw away after scanning the vague, flowery-sounding text while feeling mildly gratified at having received it at all.”

Everything feels a bit dictatorial; it’s as if the Alpha/bride is saying: “My loyal subjects; watch as I open all of my wonderful gifts you were obligated to put at my feet for the honor of interacting with me. Don’t touch anything; you’ll get it dirty. You may look, but not for too long. Now someone hand me my next gift and prepare to make sounds of amazement at what it contains, even if it’s a set of napkin rings.”

Scent of chocolate permeates the air. The dining area looks like remains of cake antelope carcass after being attacked by a pack of famished chocolate lions. Instantly glad I left the chocolate chip granola bar at home, else I may have been mauled.

I continue to stay to the outside of the Circle — I have not been invited in, nor do I want to go through likely undesirable initiation likely involving growing a uterus or, more painfully, being forced to watch Grey’s Anatomy.

Found additional clues. There was apparently a quiz to determine how well they knew the bride-to-be. I didn’t stick around to see what the winner and loser received, but I assume the winner received the privilege of buying another present while the loser had to sever a toe of their choosing for the bride’s amusement.

The rest was a blur until a group of ladies brought out a piñata filled with warm nacho cheese, taking turns shooting at it with a crossbow. Then came the feats of strength and 40-yard dash competitions, which I totally did not see coming.

Kelly Van De Walle can be reached at vandkel@hotmail.com or via huddled in a hunting blind in the corner of a bridal shower. Follow Kelly on Twitter @pancake_bunny or he’ll take your presents.

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Kelly Van De Walle can be reached at

vandkel@hotmail.com.