Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I am 33 years old and while I'm in a great relationship, I don't have any interest in having kids (at least right now ... if I have a biological clock, it's apparently snoozing).
I love my friends, I am truly happy they are expectant moms, and I enjoy hanging out with the little kiddos once they appear (well, for a good 20 minutes, at least!). But I don't know if I can stomach one more baby shower.
If it was just gift giving and hanging out, it would be fine. But there's all kinds of activities someone, somewhere decided were mandatory. Guessing games involving the price of baby powder and diapers, speculating about the circumference of the mother's burgeoning abdomen, sitting around while each present is opened, examined and the giver identified ... these things can take hours.
It seems like guy friends and husbands get a free pass from attending because of some cultural assumption that they wouldn't be interested or that their presence would make ladies too uncomfortable to freely discuss lady things. Would it really be so bad to drop off a present and leave before we all have to diaper baby dolls blindfolded?
--Baby Game Grinch
Ugh with the baby shower games, right? How about the one where you see who can go the longest without saying the word "baby"? Because obviously, as women, that's basically impossible. I have the same fatigue for bridal showers. Nothing dumbs down a group of otherwise intelligent, independent women like a super-serious round of "use this toilet paper to create a wedding dress." And nothing exposes the hours we've wasted on romantic comedies like a rousing round of "wedding movie charades."
But guess what? It's not about us. And while there's always sure to be at least one grinchy girl who bucks gender trends and finds this stuff at worst irritating and at the least awfully boring, there is sure to be a roomful of doting aunts, wistful BFFs and been-there-done-that wives and moms who are super stoked to see another one of their counterparts taking the marital or maternal leap. Your urge to drop a gift and dash may overpower your napping maternal instincts, and I deeply sympathize and relate. But going to a baby or bridal shower typically requires just a few hours of your life -- a few hours to show your friend that you care about them and honor this huge step they are taking in life. And hey, at least there's free food.
Is it irritating that men get a pass on these antiquated estrogen fests? Uh, yeah! I wish more major life celebrations would include the men folk and feature festivities a little more reflective of the world we live in today. Because it's totally unfair that while we're guessing the price of a baby rattle or playing another mind-numbing round of name-that-nursery-rhyme, they're kicking it with cold beers and chicken wings.
You are correct, Grinch -- men have absolutely zero interest in being anywhere near those parties. In fact, just the thought of those games and giggles makes my skin crawl. And Wanda, you are correct as well -- in fact, it's mandatory that the boys grab chicken wings and beer anytime the ladies get together for one of those parties simply to celebrate the fact that we don't have to go! Damn, it feels good to be a guy!
But here's the thing about great friends -- you show up for them. For their highest highs and lowest lows. For weddings and divorces. For births and deaths. For flat tires and moving couches. And for hours of stupid games, fattening cupcakes, toilet paper dresses and a room packed with estrogen-filled balloons and clanging biological clocks. I'm sure for most single women or those uninterested in having children, it's an soul-eating experience. But that's what friends do -- they show up. So put on your best Meryl Streep acting face or sneak in a flask if you must -- just show up, smile, deal and have fun, dang it! And know in your heart that they'll be there for you when your cat dies or your most recent Match.com flame bombs out.
And for the record: men have to make big sacrifices for our events, too. These bachelor parties and Super Bowl jams don't throw themselves!
• Wanda is a wise person who has loved, lost and been to therapy. Wayne is a wise guy who has no use for therapy. Send them your questions and thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.