Look, I like weddings. I enjoy seeing two people I care about pledge their love to each other, before diving into a feast and cutting loose on the dance floor. And of course I love babies. A new life brings genuine joy and wonder into the world, and nobody has a problem with the way new babies smell.
But I hate showers. I loathe them. I despise showers. Stop throwing them.
It is 2013. Women marry other women, and men take parental leave. The whole world is mixed up and crazy, definitions of love and marriage and parenthood are shifting at hyperspeed, yet one worn-out tradition refuses to die: the shower, my least favourite part of the tournament of events held every time a couple gets hitched, or another sperm kisses another egg.
Friends are strong-armed into first buying presents, then watching the interminable process of their opening in a room that has apparently been decorated by a monster that vomits pink streamers. Any resistance is interpreted as a sign of jealousy, an intense, poorly disguised urge to be on the receiving end.
"Don't worry, it'll be your turn soon," coos a cousin's best friend's neighbour, biting into a crustless triangle sandwich while sending out waves of powdery rose perfume. I counter with a flash of my wedding ring (City Hall, 13 guests); she feints by asking when I plan on being impregnated. We spar to a backdrop of "ooooooohs" as our mutual acquaintance uncovers a $60 garlic press, or a Disney onesie made by a Chinese tween.
By holding these gruesome spectacles, we are not doing any favours to brides- or mothers-to-be – rather, we are simply supporting an oppressive global shower-industrial complex. Last year women in Britain alone reportedly spent almost $350-million on showers – an amount equal to almost $80 per women.
It's regressive, and it's expensive. It's embarrassing, and I hate it.
The only acceptable justification for a shower is to please your aunts. They want to see you in a hat made of paper plates and ribbons, and they are nice aunts, so you will please them. But that doesn't mean the exercise has to be akin to bunion surgery for everyone else. As a veteran attendee of innumerable showers, I implore you to follow these tips.
Don't ask for a shower gift from your wedding registry, especially if you've been shacking up with your betrothed for years. Your friends and family are already shelling out for a big wedding present. Be classy—ask for a token donation to a charity, and mean it. Or at least be creative: have a wine shower, or an underwear shower. You get to start married life with a stash of something useful, and guests can show they care for $20.
Do have alcohol. Yes, even at baby showers. The entire afternoon is about the mom-to-be, let the rest of us have a little tipple.
Don't ever play any games involving toilet paper. Like ever, ever. Women who make other women wear a Toilet Paper Wedding Dress are bad friends. Women who infantilize other women by forcing them into a Toilet Paper Diaper are why we still don't have wage equality.
Do broaden the guest list. Just as there's no good reason why a meeting of money and power magnates should be all dudes, there's no good reason why a celebration of life's rituals with cake and idiotic games should be all chicks. Also, men have more money, and more money equals more presents, and this whole exercise is a present grab, and you know it.
Don't involve penis-shaped items. Remember, someone will probably use this shower to indoctrinate her daughter into appropriate gender behavior, so think of the children. I have a vague, traumatic memory of a huge, red, penis-shaped candle at a shower when I was a girl. Shudder.
Do remember that we love you, even if we despise this rigmarole. We love your husband-to-be (probably) and we will love your baby (absolutely). But if you try to get near me with that toilet paper, I might hit you.
Denise Balkissoon is a Toronto writer and co-editor of The Ethnic Aisle, a blog about ethnic and cultural pluralism in the Greater Toronto Area.