A baby shower. Every first time mother dreams of a lovely time surrounded by family and friends to celebrate the new life growing inside of her. My hopes of having one were all but dashed due to the fact I was 600 miles from home and new to the area with just a few work friends. That is until my mother in law announced she would be giving me one. Now I need to tell you a bit about my (now ex) mother in law. She was a charming combination of the manipulative and passive-aggressive Marie Barone (from Everybody Loves Raymond), and the über religious annoyingly airy voiced Amy’s mom (also from Everybody Loves Raymond). Oh, and she was totally nuts. She was a housewife and had nothing to occupy her mind but whatever her current “project” was. This could only serve in my favor, right? How can someone really mess up a baby shower?
I was kind of excited at the thought of a baby shower actually happening! Although, she decided it would be at her house (and hour and a half away from where I and my friends lived), and that she would be inviting HER friends from church and her family. None of which I knew. I was ALLOWED to bring 3 of my friends along however, which turned out to be my saving grace. And also my only witnesses to prove that this is really how it all went down.
I let my ex mother in law, let's call her Peggy, know that the nursery theme was animals. No type in particular, just animals. I thought this would make it easy! Circus animals! Farm animals! Jungle animals! Everything was game! I also said to please be sure to send the invites 2 weeks ahead so people had time to plan. So, when I received an invite in the mail 3 days before the shower I was surprised. I figured she just wanted me to have one for posterity and sent it as an afterthought. She hadn’t. She sent ALL the invites 3 days before the shower. I was devastated! How would people be able to come with no little notice? That was until I opened it. Then I felt a horror beyond that I had ever experienced. Inside, was it a cute animal invite (which could be found aplenty at any Walmart, Dollar General, Target…basically ANYWHERE)? Was it a generic baby shower invite? Was it simply a blank general card that you fill in? No. Inside was a bowling birthday party invite. Complete with bowling ball image. Seriously.
My then husband was a bowling center manager. I did not bowl. I did not enjoy bowling. I never once mentioned bowling as a hobby or interest. But, apparently, since my husband was employed by a bowling company, she felt it would be appropriate to have the invitation be bowling themed. And this, my friends, is how one can mess up a baby shower. But wait! It gets worse.
Aside from the fact that the invites were only sent to people I didn’t know and that they were sent 3 days before the event, they were now also in a bowling party invite form. I feared people would think it WAS a bowling party. My ex husband assured me that Peggy would not make the whole shower a bowling theme. It must just be what she thought would be cute since he worked at a bowling alley. I believed him. And then I called her. She assured me that everyone would know it was a baby shower. I mean, it said baby shower on it! Handwritten. In small print. On the bottom right. She went on to ask what types of fruits and veggies I liked, as well as cake. I let her know I liked bananas, blueberries, apples, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, etc. And that I really liked chocolate cake with chocolate icing these days. I hung up defeated, but with the hope that at least the worst was behind us, and that there was at least good food to be had.
The day of the party I picked up my friends and we drove the 1.5 hours across the state to the event. We walked into the house to find Peggy in the kitchen, and a few chairs next to the couch with the TV on. And one guest. A distant cousin and her OBNOXIOUS four year old son, who repeatedly tried to punch me in the stomach, with no reprimand from his mother. There was no special seat for me, so I found one by the couch and hunkered down with my pals to await the impending disaster. As we sat we saw the table. When this lady commits to a theme, she REALLY commits. There were bowling pins. And a bowling tablecloth. And the plates were in the shape of bowling shirts. The trifecta of tackiness. A turkey, if you will, to use bowling jargon. And then the food. On the counter were a bowl of cherry tomatoes and 6 full bananas. Quite the spread. And how appropriate for a shower. No dip for the tomatoes, mind you. Simply a bowl of tomatoes.
We waited an hour. No one came. Just us, Peggy, and crazy backwoods cousin and her demon spawn. Peggy felt this would be a good time for a game. She had us silently go on a hunt for baby items hidden through the house and count how many. Random diapers, a few latex nipples (no bottles), and a pacifier holder (no pacifier) were hidden. Then we shared our guesses about how many items were hidden. My friend guessed correctly. But there was no prize. Just a “good job!” and a quick segue to the cake. Games were done. Lucky me got to keep the clearance items she got from the local grocery store. Score. Peggy brought out the cake. Carrot cake, of course. Well, at least it wasn’t a bowling ball shape.
Onto presents. Some people had sent some along since they would not be in attendance. There were used, stained baby clothes. A few more latex nipples (still no bottles). A discontinued car seat. And a boppy and new outfits (from my friends of course). With things drawing to an end, Peggy said she had a surprise for me in the baby’s room (yes, she had a room dedicated for the baby, who I would never, ever, leave alone with her and her insanity). She had made a lamp. And in true leg lamp (a la A Christmas Story) fashion, there stood, in all its glory before us, a lamp. Made from a bowling pin. She had to hold the lampshade on, since it wouldn’t stay on without her support. And then there was the crib. The iron, lead painted crib from her grandparents. On each rail was a plastic dollar store bowling pin, sliced down the back to be able to slide over the pole. How safe? Who would not want 10 razor sharp plastic bowling pins within your infants reach?
Finally, we were released from our bowling prison. But not without a new, insane story to be able to pass down through the generations ;). . How can someone mess up a baby shower? Peggy can give lessons. (Side note: My awesome friends ended up giving me the best, most wonderful, fantastic and chocolate cake filled baby shower ever a few weeks later, and I can now totally laugh at the whole debacle.)