Speaking of How Southerners Talk, what’s the deal with baby showers?

I didn’t know a housewarming party was a way of asking for presents and I threw one for myself. I am still embarrassed about that.

June 2007 260.jpg

A tale of two showers.

When I lived in Memphis, in my beautiful little uncluttered 1928 bungalow, my friend Leigh was going to get married. She had this friend whom we shall call Sissy who wanted to host a shower for Leigh, which was lovely. I was happy. I wanted to celebrate with my friend.

Sissy, whom I had met once, briefly, asked if I would co-host. We could have the shower at her house. This sounded so easy! Too good to be true! I would not have to clean a house to party standards.

So sure. I will co-host! It was going to be a potluck shower. How hard could it be?

Apparently, not hard at all. When Megan and I arrived early with our multiple cakes and appetizers to help set up, we were greeted by Sissy’s two very aggressive little dogs, who made it very clear they did not want company in the house.

“Why don’t you put the dogs outside?” Megan asked.

Sissy declined.

Then Megan and I went upstairs, probably to snoop, and discovered dog poop on the carpet. We informed Sissy. She – did not address the situation. She did not clean up the poop. She did not put the dogs outside.

People arrived. Every time they did, the dogs barked and lunged at the front door. Sissy warned, “Don’t let the dogs out!”

Leigh started opening the presents.

One of them was wet.

With dog pee.

The dogs had peed on Leigh’s presents.

Megan had had enough. “Put the f*ing dogs outside!” she told Sissy.

A few days after the shower, Sissy called me and told me I owed her $60 (was it more? whatever it was, it was a lot for me) for my share. I had not been involved with any of the financial decisions. I had not been asked if I agreed. I had not noticed anything that cost money – remember, this was a potluck shower. I did not even know this was how things were done. Maybe it’s not. Maybe this was just a Sissy thing.

Leigh is no longer friends with Sissy. Sissy neither hosted nor attended Leigh’s baby shower, which was a lot of fun and was a potluck with friends who knew that bringing baby clothes from the Junior League Thrift Shop was not only an acceptable idea but welcomed. Leigh doesn’t waste.

Then there was the bridal shower at work here in Wisconsin. I don’t know if this was a Betty thing or a Wisconsin thing. I think it was a Betty thing because even my boss, who is an immigrant from a non-Western culture, was appalled when I told him what Betty had suggested.

Here’s the situation:

Jane is getting married in August.

Samantha is getting married in August.

Jane is on my team. We are in accounting.

Samantha is not on my team. She is in sales and is in the office maybe once every two weeks. I have met Samantha maybe twice.

Jane, I work with all the time. Samantha and Jane have probably never met. They for sure have no reason to talk to each other.

We have a women’s group at work. About once a year, someone has a baby and we have an all-women potluck shower with the woman’s boss buying the cake.

At first, I was annoyed by the idea, especially as I did not know the women being showered, but then another woman explained to me that there were so few women in our office (which means we never have to wait in the bathroom) that we look for opportunities to get together.

And the men always show up anyhow bearing food and presents. These are good people I work with.

Me: Let’s have a bridal shower for Jane! I will organize it. Will you send out the email? (I do not have the distribution list.)

Sarah (who organizes the women’s group activities – she finds speakers, etc): OK! Let me ask Betty if she’ll help!

Betty: We don’t do bridal showers.

Me: But – we could. We just haven’t had a wedding before. It’s not like we have philosophical objections to bridal showers, is it?

Betty: What about Samantha? Most of her team is in [other US city].

Me: What about her?

Betty: She is also getting married.

Me: Fine. Throw her a shower. Two showers are better than one.

Betty: But it’s so much work! And people hardly have time to attend one shower, much less two!

Me: Then don’t throw her a shower!

Betty: But Samantha is also getting married!

Me: Then – throw her a shower.

Betty: But – too much work!

Me: Then don’t throw her a shower.

Betty: Let’s throw them a joint shower.



Me: What?

Me: No.

Me: Never mind.

Me: We are not having a joint shower for two women who don’t know each other. You’re on your own with Samantha.


We had a team-only shower. Our boss bought lunch.

Betty never did anything for Samantha.




3 thoughts on “Speaking of How Southerners Talk, what’s the deal with baby showers?

  1. Showers … what a pesky issue. A dear friend of mine has two daughters whom I love. When the one who lives in my city got pregnant, my friend/her MOTHER wanted to host a shower. I suggested that’s normally (here in Virginia, anyway) not done. it is friends, not close family, that do that – lest one look like one is soliciting gifts for one’s family member. (Your original point.) So she agreed that I would host the shower at my home and she would bring “some food” from her home an hour away. OK??????

    As time got closer and she started telling me what she was bringing, it was clear that it was way too much food, so we re-settled on my providing drinks – i’m good at that! The day arrived and I arranged the furniture, brought out additional chairs and set a pretty table with centerpiece and flowers – it looked good. Then my friend arrived with chairs, a risers to set food on, tableclothes, dishes, tableware, serving plates and centerpieces. She removed all my things and piled them in my bedroom and set up the table to her liking… My grandmother is still rolling in her grave! lesson learned. no more “sharing” things with her.


  2. I think it was a Betty thing. When I worked (at the same place you did in the 901), our team (maybe 16 people?) had 2 men expecting their first children within weeks of each other. We did a potluck shower in the middle of our horseshoe of cubicles, divided the conference table with blue and pink tissue paper, had 2 sheet cakes from Costco. Their wives came and it was lovely. Though they were a little skeptical at first about their husbands getting showered at work, they were very appreciative. We didn’t do games or anything. Just ate food & opened presents & talked to the couples. It was done over an extended lunch hour. I miss the people (& the $$) at that job, but not the job itself.

    I would have gone ballistic with the dogs at Leigh’s shower. I have pets, but they do not have a spot at certain social events.


  3. I have to say that, at least where I come from, a housewarming is an event where your friends “warm” your new home with their friendship. It should NOT be a gifting occasion.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s