WILSON: The rebirth of baby showers

The usual caffeine-fueled hub-bub at Sarah’s Diner had reached its peak and was slowly beginning to wind down. Sarah had followed the standardized serving protocol of filling coffee cups, taking orders, refilling coffee cups, delivering heaping orders of hot breakfast, refilling coffee cups (again), removing emptied plates of once heaping orders of hot breakfast, and was (once again) refilling coffee cups. The opening debate of the morning, focused on a secret alien invasion and take-over of the Supreme Court, had been thoroughly discussed and (as usual) no conclusions had been reached.

As Sarah brought the table clearing process to a close, several members of the Circular Congregation Breakfast Club excused themselves to embark on individual sojourns to the restroom, crank open the floodgates, and syphon off multiple cups of caffeine-depleted coffee. Jimmy returned to the table, still wiping his freshly washed hands on the pant legs of his jeans (he once read an article, in a 6-year-old magazine at the VA Medical Clinic, that warned about restroom hot-air hand dryers being a breeding ground for nasty germs – most of them with names beyond his ability to pronounce – leading him to conclude that wiping his hands on his pant legs was the more sanitary route).

“I got an invite to a couples ‘baby-Q’ next weekend,” he announced, as he reclaimed his seat at the far end of the round table. He tossed the invitation on the table for all to read.

“OK, I’ll bite,” mumbled Harrison Winkle, as he pushed back his chair, tossed his napkin on the table, and began a hurried — yet, seemingly nonchalant — stroll to the latrine. “What is a Baby-Q?” he asked over his shoulder – without breaking stride.

Such a topic had never been part of the congregation’s discussion forum. Their responses came amid a bucket of uncertainty.

“Sounds like someone wants to slow roast little kids,” guessed Big John Hudson (who could always be counted on to take the creepiest side of the debate – especially around Halloween).

“Pretty sure that’s not it,” countered Arnold Tobin. “It must be veal. That’s baby beef…right?”

“I’m with Big John on this one,” Firewalker said as he jumped into the conversation. “It said ‘baby-Q’ – not ‘veal-B-Q.’” To Firewalker, this seemed like all the explanation needed to justify his stand on the topic.

“Nope,” Jimmy said. “It’s a cook-out to celebrate the upcoming birth of a baby.”

“That’s a baby shower!” Harry scoffed as he returned to the table, wiping his hands on the back of Jimmy’s shirt as he passed by (he had read the same article). “Why did you get an invitation to a baby shower? That’s for women.”

“Exactly!” exclaimed Jimmy – happy that Harry was taking his side on this one (but not very happy about his shirt being used as a towel). “We had a meeting a long time ago. Women got baby showers, wedding showers, bachelorette parties and any type of estrogen fueled gathering that includes female voices saying, ‘Ahhhh,’ or ‘Woop.’ We guys get cold showers, bachelor parties and deer camp.”

“I remember that meeting,” added Harry. “I was there. Men don’t go to baby showers. We go to gun swap meets and Bass Pro Shops.”

“It’s the newest thing,” explained Tommy Jones, the senior member of the Congregation, and most up-to-date on social trends. “Women changed the rules and are saying guys have to go to baby showers, now. They gave it a little more masculine name to make it sound like something a guy would want to do.”

“But, we don’t want to do that!” bellowed Jimmy – his voice echoed around the diner as he emphatically made his point. “Guys don’t go to baby showers, regardless of what they are called!”

“But they are serving beef brisket, slow roasted for fourteen hours,” countered Big John Hudson – who was the only one to actually pick up the invitation and read it.

“Slow roasted barbecue?” Jimmy thought aloud, as he reread the invitation. “If they have coleslaw and baked beans, I guess I could stop by for a couple of sandwiches and a quick beer.”

Larry Wilson is a mostly lifelong resident of Niles. His essays stem from experiences, compilations and recollections from friends and family. He can be reached at wflw@hotmail.com.

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