ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone

Jenny I’m so damn happy today. I hear the muffled sound of the sleepy-time CD we play for the tots during nap time piping in from behind their bedroom door. The CD was a party favor from a baby shower. I haven’t been to many baby showers. A few when I lived in New York, fancy ones with tea sandwiches, crumpets, and strawberries with clotted cream. Fancy because all the ladies dressed in suits with scarves, floral jewelry, blown hair, lipstick. A lot of preparation to celebrate the preparation of a life. I kinda love baby showers.

I think I love all showers because they’re daytime affairs. You get design ideas.Fruit-filled ice rings made in bundt pans. Creams piped from pastry bags. Tablescapes. Fancy cocktails. Yet, showers are casual enough that you don’t have to worry about which black dress. You get to mingle without screaming, and no one forces you to dance. And, hello, there are always tea sandwiches! Oh, how I just love small sandwiches. Fig, marscapone, a mint leaf, on a walnut cranberry bread. Died and gone. Just love it.

I love the ruffles, the laughter through the rooms of a house, the way people speak of their jobs and other people they know. I always admire the clothes of others. From across a room, I’ll wonder where they got that bracelet. I love being surrounded by women at showers.

Luncheons, however, are a beast. The word itself reminds me of my ex-mother-in-law, Rome. Luncheons are forced. It’s business or obligation. Someone’s always pushing something. It’s too uptight with tables and centerpieces, a speaker or agenda. Oh, but the shower, what glee. Free to float about, feasting on seconds, to up and leave when the company bores. Onto a new clutch of women with new stories to tell.

You sip champagne and clink glasses and get to eat as many diminutive delectables as you’d like. Smoked salmon, dill, and a dollop of creme fraishe. I love the dollop. Sweet butter with cucumber. Life, I think, should have more showers.   

The last one I attended, here in Austin, the baby shower for Gus Dupuy, was fantastic. During all the ho-hum oohs of gift-opening, there was a kitchen counter stacked with scrapbooking supplies. Guests were encouraged to create a page for Mama, leaving blank spots for her to simply slip in photos of Gus once he arrived. Guests signed their names to the back. And, not only were there sandwiches galore, and sugar-rimmed glasses,  but the guest of honor is just about the brightest woman I’ve ever met. Bright in a way that when you’re near her, you light up. Her voice, the things she says, I just love her. And the strange thing is, I hardly know her. When I first moved to Austin, we went on a grown up playdate, set up on a double-blinder. Maybe saw each other a handful of times. Walked the lake in the morning once. Did dinner and drinks. Not much of anything, but she’s full of personality and life, and it’s a joy to be near her. Especially when she has something to bitch about. She’s sinced moved from Austin, but I get the photo updates of sweet Gus, the mass email moms seem to come to between feedings. But just thinking of her makes me smile. We should all know people like this.



  1. The fancy New York baby showers you describe sound lovely — I threw a shower like that for the wedding of my best friend, and had a blast making tea food (scones with clotted cream! cucumber sandwiches!). Unfortunately, my experiences at suburban baby showers have been less sublime. Everyone eats like birds (except for the piece of bad cake you're required to consume), there's always a goofy game about baby animals or baby bingo or some such nonsense, and moms you don't know give you the hairy eyeball if you refill your wine glass too soon. The main event is Watching Mom Open One Thousand Tiny Presents and making "aw!" sounds for about five hours. Maybe it's because I don't have kids yet and am just not feeling it, but even the best baby showers I've attended have been just "tolerable" as parties.
    I hear you on the luncheons, though.

    FROM STEPHANIE: See, the key is to have an activity during the opening of gifts. It's quiet, keeps you busy, not bored. I didn't have kids, and wasn't pregnant, when I attended the fancy pants parties in New York. And I just loved them. Bridal showers, too.

  2. I was five or six when I went to my first shower. It was at my favorite place, my Aunt Kay's house. We were asked to check under our chairs for a number and the lucky guests would get a door prize. I was ecstatic when I realized I had won a bottle of Johnson's Baby lotion. Seriously, I remember my excitement like it was yesterday.

  3. Your description sounds so good, Stephanie. I want to leave in New York. How many things we can do there!!!!!

  4. "From across a room, I'll wonder wear they got that bracelet. "

    please tell me this was because of a spell check error and you honestly didn't write it this way!!!

    FROM STEPHANIE: It was fixed before your comment hurled in.

  5. Stephanie sorry to be a pest, but can I be your personal Italian proofreader? It is MASCARPONE, not MARSCAPONE as it is often spelled in the States.

  6. Bettina's comment made me laugh. The combination of my ADD and glasses of wine(I ignore said hairy eyeballs) create a horrible cocktail. I either try and camp out in the bathroom or 'make a quick call' outside when the weird little games drag on. Commenting after the 40th gift… my 'stewardess' smile cracks. I feel like a nap and a blanket.
    I do bring nice presents to make up for my partial lack of participation. I always help with clean up if I can as well.
    I'm not a small gathering shower person I guess. Luncheons offer more room for escape for me. They are more stiff but at luncheons it's easier to 'phone it in'. I'm lazy.

  7. Wow, your descriptions are so detailed I feel as if I'm there feasting on little sandwiches and clinking glasses of punch!

    I'm gone to some pretty sucky baby showers. I mean, if I have to play "Smell and then guess what's in the diaper" one more time I think I'll hang myself. Still can't look at crushed up Kit Kats at Cold Stone Creamery without thinking of it as a "poo-poo" diaper. EW.

  8. As I read this post I was thinking about Mr. Gus' shower. (I was also there, and how I came to know of you and your blog.) It was one of the best showers I have been to all year. If only they were all like that one, I would attend them more.

  9. Can you pls. tell us more about how the "decorate a page in the scrapbook" worked? I'm planning a baby shower (and i've only ever been to 1!) and that sounds like a really nice idea. I wasn't going to have any "activities" but that sounds like a nice, low-key one that could create a great souvenir.

    Do you know of any other activities like that? I've heard about onsie-decorating, but that won't work for this party because it's more like a cocktail party, and think that people will be more into socializing than doing something so time-consuming.

    PS i love fancy bridal (and baby) showers, too, and I even like watching people open presents.

  10. everything sounds sweet and lovely, except I can't stand that "aaaw" sound!!! it makes me a little crazy ; )

  11. All the showers I have been to in the last 20 yrs have been post baby. I think It's a nicer idea because you get to meet the baby and it's a more casual vibe. Sometimes it's a "bring your own progeny" shower so there's plenty going on. A super formal shower sounds like an ordeal to me.

  12. I love showers too. But I never admit it because it feels like something you should not enjoy going to, like an obligation. But I agree, it is fun to have someplace to go during the day that is fun and you can dress up for but so much less stressful than an evening event. Plus, I usually get to see people that I don't see on frequent basis. And I also love the creative crafty part of it. Back in the day when all my friends were getting married, I always volunteered to throw the shower becuase I loved having an excuse to make some cute appetizer or dessert that I would otherwise never have a reason to make.

    I opening of the gifts part I could live without though :)

    FROM STEPHANIE: As I'm sure would the guest of honor. How many ways can you really fake loving a gift? It's a lot of pressure remarking on how nicely things are wrapped, what a great gift, handling duplicates of the same gift. No one should ever be forced to open gifts in front of the giver. Grandchildren especially. I HATED opening gifts from my grandparents in front of them. Because if I hated the sweater or clothes, I had to pretend they were the most thrilling items I'd ever seen. We start lying when we're so young.

  13. Tea, cute sandwiches, scones, jam, and clotted cream would be good enough reasons to lure me to a baby shower. Scones and clotted cream are my usual contributions. My thing.

    The best part is the arriving of guests bearing goodies and setting up and checking out how your specialty finds a niche and how it seamlessly ties in with the rest of the spread.

    Low points: making uninspired oohing and aahing during the gift-opening, making lame comments to someone you've just met at the bash, and restraining yourself from tearing through the heap of packages already and get it over with..:)

    BTW… first-time at your site, love it!

  14. 'ain't no sunshine when she's gone' is one of my absolute favorite songs…it's my ringback tone on my phone.

  15. Funny, all the showers I ever went to (or had thrown for me) were evening affairs.

    Why not throw a shower next time the occasion arises? You sound like you would be a natural at throwing one.

  16. Speaking of showers and wine (and hairy eyeball guests). After I had the twins my old boss kindly threw me a shower. Lovely food, cake, guests and wine. The first time in a month I had actually left the house to do something remotely social with anyone other than close family. Hostess INSISTED I 'was not drinking the wine?' was I?

    HELL YES!!!

  17. I was about to make the same comment as Maria :) guilty.
    The unwrapping gift comment you made is so true. I was reminded again of being a kid, preparing to go to our grandparents' house for Christmas dinner, and right before we entered the door my mom reminded us again to "be grateful and thank them for the presents". "Even the knitted sweaters? And the toys that we are to old for?" – "YES!". So I fake-smiled a lot. I hated that too. It gets easier with age, if I get a crappy gift now, I can still appreciate the effort that went into it.

    I wonder if baby showers are a US thing, we don't have them in Belgium. Here the visits are paid after the baby is born.

  18. Our baby shower for our little girl is tomorrow night. Can't wait! I'll have to put pics on my MySpace blog for you.

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