Tag Archives: party

Spring- Baby Showers

I may have mentioned it in passing once or twice before, but I’m not the biggest fan of baby showers. They are nothing but an excuse to get stressed out, spend ridiculous sums of money, and wind up hanging out with people who you shouldn’t really have to impress. We went through this all when Cream Soda was about to be born, but it seems that two-and-a-half years have erased the pain from our first attempt. The morning of the shower, I swore that I would stick to my guns and not participate in any way. My wife had learned her lesson from the parties which had come before, and had wanted to avoid the pitfalls of yet another get-together. But when I woke up, she was in the kitchen with our daughter, scrambling to help get a day’s worth of work done in just a handful of hours. I insisted that I wanted nothing to do with any of it, and took a shower, put on my suit, and then tried to blend into the background. I must not have looked busy enough, though, as I was soon dragooned into service. A ten-dollar bill was shoved into my hand, and I was sent off in search of two-liter sodas and six packages of tostadadas. Sure, it meant going to the grocery store in my one good suit, but on the other hand, it got me out of the apartment.

The whirlwind pace of food preparation continued with only minor breaks for bathing, and both my daughter and wife were still going strong well after the party was set to have begun. Our rides arrived a short while later, and it took all of us to load up everything which we were taking over. We had ribs, a pasta salad, a fancy regular salad with oranges and walnuts, a fettuccine alfredo with the one thing I fear more than whole milk: shrimp. There were also party favors and balloons, and a homemade lemonade. The six of us piled into our in-laws’ cars as nothing more than an afterthought. We were running at least an hour behind schedule, and we still had to set up everything at Lupe’s house. Fortunately, the drive was short. We started unloading the vehicles, and once everything had been brought inside, the ladies began the final touches on the party decorations. Nerdenn Events and I wanted to just stay out of the way, and help by not screwing anything up. To help us in our cause, Guillermo, brother-in-law to my sister-in-law, offered both me and my son-in-law a beer.

Pictured: Helping.
Pictured: Helping.

The place was still pretty empty, so Nerdenn and I managed to stay out of harm’s way while the women were running around, engaged in quality control. They were like a force of nature, and within a handful of minutes, the whole place looked ready to withstand an all-out assault of party-goers suffering from Baby Fever. The food was ready. The decorations were arranged. There was a nice little spot for the presents to begin piling up. The only thing we needed now was for the tide of people we’d been expecting to arrive.

You can see the fear of failing to host the perfect party in their eyes.
You can see the fear of failing to host the perfect party in their eyes.

Soon, the usual suspects began arriving (more family, and a friend not acquainted with the guest of honor/party girl), and it was decided that we’d eat if no one showed up in a little while. I was grateful for this, because I hadn’t had a bite to eat all day. I’d been saving myself for the ribs, which were, after a brief respite for transportation, back in the oven once again. In the meantime, we sat around in little groups and made small talk with one another, while drinking what appeared to be a never-ending supply of beer. Finally, we decided that we should just sit down to eat, so we grabbed our trays and served ourselves. I grabbed a little of the fettuccine, daring a shrimp or two, and was just about to resign myself to a life without my one true love (ribs), when a worthy opponent stepped up upon the stage. It turns out that Lupe had prepared some baked barbecue chicken, which I must admit, despite being against chicken in general, was juicy and delicious. I polished off two drumsticks (and my fettuccine), priding myself on the fact that I hadn’t spilled a single thing on my fancy white dress shirt. And then I was told the next batch was ready, and this batch was also made with habanero in the sauce. I whispered a silent apology to my shirt, and snagged a couple drumsticks more.

My reaction when told about the second batch of drumsticks, debating whether I was too stuffed to try them.
My reaction when told about the second batch of drumsticks, debating whether I was too stuffed to try them. I totally did.

That was the most delicious chicken I have ever eaten. I just want to make that clear. Spicy in all the right ways, with a salve of sweetness. It almost got rid of the flavor of the Tecate.

When it become obvious that no one else was coming, we got ready for the party games. I had assumed that the photographer would not be required to participate, but I would soon discover just how wrong I’d been. We started out with the “Diaper Game,” which involved smelling, and tasting, various substances which resembled newborn poop while blindfolded, and then guessing what it was that had been “sampled.”

This was mustard, as I recall.
This was mustard, as I recall.

The ladies took their turns first, while the room erupted in laughter at their discomfiture. Then it was time for the men. As a group, we were more daring, actually getting around to tasting these vile substances. When I was forced into playing, I wound up with the Mustard diaper, which I guessed immediately, and then went back to snapping pictures.

The moment of truth.
The moment of truth.

With that done, I thought I would be free, but there was yet another game involving blindfolds which we were “volunteered” to play. Mr. Events and I were sat down and blindfolded, as were our significant others, and we were spoon fed something which we were told to identify based only upon its rancid flavor. Wildflower shoved the spoon- upside down- into my mouth, spilling its noxious contents upon my beard and fancy white dress shirt, the same shirt I’d managed to keep clean in the face of barbecue. I described the flavor as peas and Satan, and screamed at my wife to quit jamming the spoon into my face. It turns out that I was close: the role of Satan was played by liquefied turkey. I haven’t eaten baby food for well over three decades, and after this experience, I’m not looking forward to my senior years. I now know why babies spit back out the majority of food spooned into their trusting mouths. Not to mention that even in their most perfect state, I cannot stand peas or turkey.

Then came the moment in the evening which I had been anxiously awaiting. The balloons were re-purposed, and shoved up under blouses, and the competition of the Baby Bump began. This time, it all appeared to be done in good spirit, and the ladies, with their inflated bellies, fell upon the guest of honor in giggles and camaraderie.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we men were just about finishing up with our sixth or seventh round of beer.

We still had some time to kill before my daughter was allowed to tear into her newly-acquired loot, so Guillermo put on some… type… of music, and the dancing officially began.

After that, it was just cake and presents, and the inevitable call for cleanup. I tried to argue that I was staying out of it, but my wife can be quite… persuasive… when she puts her mind to it. We got everything cleaned and packed away, thanked our hosts for the wonderful evening, and were driven back home. Both Wildflower and I were dead on our feet, and began to fade as soon as we crossed the threshold of our residence. The kids weren’t much further behind. We had survived another party, and maybe the stress of today would ensure that we wouldn’t have to face another for quite some time to come. We’ll see about that, though. Birthdays are coming up, and my granddaughter has yet to be born. I’d like to say that we had settled on small gatherings for family, as even the grandest of events wind up being just that, but mothers like to provide only the best for their children, so we’re not out of the woods quite yet.

We Will Always Party Hard

Sometimes I just need to psyche myself up before attending a baby shower. Like I’ve been saying, they’re not really in my wheelhouse. I mean, I have helped bring life into this world, but I’ve never been a human incubator, so I guess I’ve never felt like I really needed to be thrown a party. As a matter of fact, I’m not terribly all that into parties in the first place. I think that the only party which I’ve truly wanted to attend was one that never actually happened: For my thirty-fifth birthday, I wanted to rent a limo, and go out for a night on the town to celebrate my “Very Good Year”, but it all sort of just fell apart, and I wound up doing absolutely nothing, which to be fair, had been my backup all along. When in doubt, I always say, mope about the house.

When I was seventeen, it was a very good year. I moved out of my mom’s place and struck out on my own. I fell in love, and lost my virginity. I got to practice being a dad, write some tunes and my best short stories, start a business, and generally play at being an adult. It was one of the few times in my life when I can remember being so wholeheartedly happy. That, of course, would all begin to crumble within the next couple of years, but I didn’t know that then, and I honestly thought that it would last forever. Also that summer was soft, and we frequently hid from lights on the village green. And the Island was still kind of a small town…

When I was twenty-one, it wasn’t that great. I had a massive nervous breakdown, and spent a week in the hospital. I broke up with my girlfriend of the past few years. I moved from place to place, dating ladies so that I could have a couch to sleep upon. Eventually I wound up crashing in the woods behind the local Safeway. I did move to the city that year, however. My friends called me up at work, and rescued me at the end of summer. But really, the only thing that resembles the song is that, when I was twenty-one, “it came undone.”

So when my thirty-fifth birthday was approaching, I wanted to do better. I was happily married (as happily as a married man can be), so there was very little chance of hooking up with blue blooded girls of independent means, unless you could interpret it to mean that my wife had her own source of income and one slightly varicose vein. It wasn’t much, but it was all I had to work with. The only thing that was missing was the limousine. Plus, it would have been an excuse to get dressed up fancy and have a night out on the town, and I’d had to buy a suit when I’d attended my friend’s wedding just a couple of weeks before. Sadly, it was not meant to be. I guess there are still a little over seven months to make it happen, but as I’m broke, and my wife doesn’t go for that sort of tomfoolery. Maybe I’ll just put on the least crappy pair of jeans I own, and we’ll have a date night down at Weinerschnitzel. Yeah, that’ll go over well.

In just a little while, everyone else will begin waking up. I had the fortune to be woken by my son, who rose before the dawn. That’s like the third or fourth night in a row that I’ve managed to wrangle less than six hours of sleep. At least I’ll have a fog about me (mental- I’ll be hopping in the shower as soon as I feel up to it) to protect my fragile psyche from the abuses of the dreaded Party Games. If I was going to be smart about it, I’d take a shower now, while everyone else is sleeping. No pounding upon doors, no waiting for my turn. Ten minutes in the bathroom is all I really need (there are benefits to being bald), and then the only thing which I would have to concern myself regarding, would be herding the Minkey toward his fancy party clothing after using a moist towelette to scrub his face and neck. But that would mean admitting that it was time to finally start doing productive things today, and I don’t know if I am ready to face that.

What I would like to do, more than anything, is to just curl back up in bed, and take a nap until the adrenaline of being late launches me forward like a juggernaut. This plan has some obvious merit. First and foremost, it means that I get to go back to sleep again. And secondly, by the time I’ve fully woken up again, I’ll have already arrived at the party, and been taking pictures for at least an hour. By then, the alcohol will have been flowing freely, and I can drown down my self-awareness with the help of my old my old friend, Tecate. That’s something that I always love about these get togethers: no matter what the occasion, there always seems to be almost enough beer to make it all a little more bearable.

So I’ll go and snap some photos, and drink a brew or five, and then before I know it, we can all go home. If I can get a good night’s sleep tonight, I’ll praise the mattress gods. I remember that this lack of sleep was one of the reasons why I quit my job. Of course, my commute is much shorter now, and it costs me significantly less.

Okay, it’s time to start getting it together. Just a few hours left before the festivities begin. If I time it just right, I can be in the shower or getting dressed when the rolling meltdowns begin.

Here’s to babies! And here’s to the people who incubate them, sacrificing form and figure to feed their unborn child!

Note to self: remember not to shave. You know the reasons why...
Note to self: remember not to shave. You know the reasons why…

Force Of Will

I will write something funny today.

will write something funny today.

will write something funny today.

Like I’ve said before, trying to be funny is a lot harder than it looks, especially when all you really want is to just curl back up and go to sleep. But I know that if I don’t try to do something to crack a grin, I’ll wind up being mopey for the rest of the week, and I’m going to need all of chuckle buffer available to me if I’m going to make it through this weekend. Note to self: Chuckle Buffer is a good name for something. Just days from now, we’re having a dual celebration in honor of my daughter’s birthday, and the impending arrival into this world of my granddaughter. Just think, I get to be a grandpa to a little princess! I’m not too worried about the birthday aspect, as the “Quarter Century” joke doesn’t ever seem to lose its luster, but the baby shower will involve lots of in-law relatives and work acquaintances of my wife. I always feel so out-of-place at these types of events, and I’m not just referring to the baby shower. Birthday parties, Easter egg hunts, Thanksgiving… Even when I go to parties with my friends, I’m usually that dude that hangs out on the patio and drinks his drink and smokes cigarettes all night, until it’s finally time to go. I used to get out of it by mixing poisons like a pro, but I don’t think my wife would be too happy if I tossed my cookies in someone else’s living room. To be fair, I don’t think she wants me tossing cookies in anybody’s living room, but at least at home we have the chance to clean it up before anyone else might see. And by “we”, I mean my wife, who seems unnaturally obsessed with not having vomit stains on furniture.

I mean, they all seem like nice enough people, but it can be a little overwhelming when everyone is speaking rapid-fire Spanish, and I have to pay attention to it all in case my name is called. I mean, it’s not like Spanish class, when I knew enough to goof around, and made it clear that I was only there for my own amusement. Here, I have to worry about all the things that everybody else does, when dealing when people not necessarily of their own choosing, but with the added strain of translating everything within my head all night. Normally, my answer to the anxiety brought on by these events is to down a steady stream of beer, but that just makes me slip into my Scottish brogue, and then my Spanish is all garbled. Okay, full disclosure: it’s not actually that bad. The beer is usually the Mexican equivalent of P.B.R., and I’m comfortable enough with my second tongue that even when I’m inebriated, I don’t do all that bad. It’s just that it’s hard enough to pull off “interested” in my native tongue. I’m bad enough with people whom I barely know, that to throw in a cultural divide and foreign language means I spend the evening in state of terror.

And baby showers are the worst (I say, having only attended the shower for my grandson). My wife and daughter know what’s going on, and have it under their control, and though I really don’t want to get involved, sometimes I think that it would beat the hell out of milling around for hours trying to look just busy enough that no one asks me to move furniture or put up decorations.

Pictured: Me not helping.
Pictured: Me not helping.

I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing, or a gender thing, or just something about myself, but I’m not really interested in a party for a fetus. Call me pragmatic or spoil sport, or what have you, but I think that it would make more sense to have the party after that child’s been born. That way, everyone knows the size of baby things which are needed and the new mother gets to show off her little bundle of adorable to anyone caught in the blast radius. In the moment that my son was born, he outgrew everything which he’d been given. I know that everyone believes that newborn clothes are unbearably precious, but not every baby is born that itty-bitty. And in this family, they tend towards the massive. I mean, my son was weighed in at just under twelve pounds, when all the goo’d been cleared, and as I recall, my grandson, though not nearly as gigantic, was still born above the average weight. I could be wrong, though. It was a long night, and I had to leave at one point to go and pick up pizza.

And now I’m trying to remember if we had a shower for the Minkey. I know that we had tons of stuff to give away when we brought him home from the hospital, but… I don’t know. That was almost eight years ago, and I can barely hold on to what’s gone on over the past five minutes. I guess I never really thought of baby showers as all that big of a deal. Maybe it’s just because I never got invited when I was man of fewer years, but these parties seem ridiculous at best, and at their worst, more closely resemble a Royal Rumble of passive aggressive sniping.

The humor of a baby bump without impending pelvic assault.
The humor of a baby bump without the impending pelvic assault.

Then there are the photographs. It’s been almost two and a half years since the last one of these which I attended, and it wasn’t until this month that I finally got around to posting the photos on my Flickr page. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. Despite all evidence to the contrary, I actually enjoy this job. It allows me roam about and look like I am working while not having to really talk to anybody I don’t want to. The only issue I’ve run into is when it comes time to open presents. I know that people put a lot of thought into what they purchased for the baby (or in the snarky gifts aimed directly at the expecting mom), but they make for lousy photographs. Out of maybe fifty shots, there might be one which I can use. Yet even knowing this, I still have my Nikon shooting rapid-fire, documenting everything just in case we want to see it later. Will I bring along my camera this time? Probably. I’m not the type to pass up the chance to avoid having to talk to people.



Last night, the three of us went to the birthday party of the daughter of my wife’s co-worker. Normally, I pass on these types of events, as most of the time, I am the only one who speaks English, and my wife and son are the only people who I actually know. But when I saw that Flor had gotten all dressed up (with makeup and everything!), I decided that I should probably tag along, at least for the sake of appearances. I threw on a suit, and was ready to go when our ride arrived. Years ago, when I started working mornings, I had the perfect excuse of needing to get up early, and normally Mexican birthday parties keep rocking until well after midnight. Actually, based on my experiences, they don’t even really get going until the sun’s gone down. I’m not implying that Latinos are some sort of vampiric entities, but I’ve never seen a birthday party happen in direct sunlight. Putting aside all of my misgivings, I hopped up into the car which came for us, ready for the evening, and knowing that I had a decent chance of getting enough sleep. There are always bouncy houses at these parties, and I knew that if David played hard enough, he might be so exhausted upon our arrival back at home, that he’d sleep a proper number of hours, and perhaps not wake up at the crack of dawn. Sadly, he did, but that is nothing new.

For those of you not intimately familiar with children’s birthday parties in Latino culture, let me run them down for you:

First, the mother spends an ungodly amount of money on the rental of the bouncy house, chairs and tables, and a DJ (This is not because the fathers do not care, or feel that it is women’s work, but rather, they have made the argument (and lost) that there is no need to spend upwards of $200 just to set the stage for a party for a toddler).

The mother then spends most of the day of the event preparing enough food to feed upwards of fifty people, and calling on her friends to make and brings several other dishes as well.

She will begin to grow agitated when no one shows up at the time she has announced, fretting about social standing until her guests begin to trickle in, in what I can only assume is an attempt to arrive fashionably late… to a children’s party.

The mother will then proceed to not sit down for the remainder of the evening, flitting here and there, always rotating through the crowd in an attempt to make sure that everyone is having a good time. Just like small child to whom the party is ostensibly dedicated, she will not remember anything about it.

There will always be too much food left over at the party’s conclusion, so everyone will have a doggy bag thrust upon them.

There is a disturbing trend toward alcoholism at these events. The budget for beverages is usually around $10 for sodas, and $40 for beer, and there’s always that one dude who drinks an entire box of Corona all by himself. The first time I ever came to one of these, I was shocked at how much alcohol was being consumed. At a party for a kid.

No matter how exhausted the hosts have become, they are honor bound to keep the party going until the final guest has finally found a clue, and decided to depart.

The mother will then look out upon the chaos that once was her backyard, and suffer a moment of paralysis at the sheer magnitude of work facing her when she wakes up in the morning.

You may have noticed that I was only writing about the mothers. This is because most of the fathers I have spoken to, would rather spend the money on gifts for their children, instead of competing to win the title of Event of the Season. I’ve had this argument with my wife, every year that my son has been alive. Every year, she almost kills herself making everything absolutely perfect, just to see an underwhelming turnout, an overwhelming mess, and a checkbook that is reduced to whimpering for mercy. And every year she tells me that she finally sees what I was going on about, and how next year, she’s going to do something smaller, for just the family. But I know that her convictions will begin to fade by April of the next year, as the weather warms, and she begins to feel that she needs to show the other moms just how much better of a mother she is. I’ve learned my lesson, after all these years, and now just shut my mouth, and offer what help I may provide. There is nothing that I can say which could possibly change her mind, so I’ve decided that I’d rather not get into a fight with her when passions are running that high.

For me, I’d rather just buy a cake and a goodly amount of toys, and tell my son that I loved him, and then hit the sack at a reasonable hour. I’m trying to learn all the ins and outs of the culture which I’ve married into, but there are so many levels to everything they do, that I feel like watching telenovelas is a form of basic training. I am not cut out for all of this political posturing, as anyone who’s ever worked with me will readily attest. I have neither the time nor patience to play politics, especially when dealing with the nebulous dance of social status. I appreciate the family aspect to the Latin culture, but I also like small, non-mandatory events which end on the same day in which they began. I like getting dressed up and going out with my wife, but not if it’s only to hang out in someone’s backyard to be bitten by mosquitoes.

I don’t know if I will ever truly understand where my wife is coming from. As she is so fond of saying, we are from completely different worlds. But I love her, and every time we do something, it’s an opportunity to learn something new. I moved two states away from my family, and enjoy the distance, but Flor is an entire country distant, and I can see that these little get-togethers are her way of beating back despair. And showing all her friends just how a party should be done. Oh, and if you will be in the Bay Area this summer, please drop me a line. I have a feeling that the Event of the Season may be happening toward the end of June, at least that what my instincts tell me.

Oh, and did I mention that piñatas are falling out of fashion?
Oh, and did I mention that piñatas are falling out of fashion?
Average attendance for David's parties (not really).
Average attendance for David’s parties (not really).


... and this was just a baby shower!
… and this was just a baby shower!