“Only in a backwards world do guys throw baby showers for their guy friends, Ben,” Melanie said as she stuffed her tiny foot into an even tinier black heel.
“The guys from work planned this. I’m just following along.” Ben studied his reflection in the bathroom mirror and ran his fingers back and forth through his hair, “what do I buy for him?”
“What’s he having?”
Melanie stared at Ben’s reflection in the mirror as he continued to strategically mess his hair. “Oh my god, Ben... a boy or a girl? I meant, is he having a boy… or a girl?”
Ben blinked. “Oh,” he said. “I don’t know.”
Melanie shook her head, straightened her dress, and walked out of the room.
“Are you going to help me here?” he shouted to his wife.
“You’re on your own on this one,” she shouted back as she opened the garage door and disappeared.
The office was surprisingly dull, and the day progressed at a snail’s pace. Ben had three meetings with four clients and had little to say to any of them. This baby gift was really eating at him, so he decided to leave early for lunch to shop around.
The first boutique was an epic failure. While the colors and tiny outfits in the window said baby, the interior screamed adult bondage. The second place stocked more than a fair share of breast pumps and hemorrhoid creams. While asking for help at the third stop, the clerk spoke to him in a sickly sweet voice, “Are you a new daddy?” It was turning out to be an impossible quest, and Ben was feeling the sting of defeat.
Ben stopped at a convenient store to grab a soda and sandwich. The thought had crossed his mind, to just give money as a gift, so he purchased an overpriced card, took it to his car, and filled it out while he ate.
He was ready to return to the office when he saw the sign, “The Coldest Beer in Town! Cheap Cigarettes! 99 Cent Corn Dogs!”
“Beer!” he shouted behind the closed doors of his Chevy Malibu. “I can get him beer and some… diapers! Diapers for the baby and beer for Dad. Oh man, I… am… Awesome.”
The rest of the day was smooth sailing, and Ben had a bit of spring in his step. “Hey Ben,” a co-worker stopped him in the hall. “Going to Randall’s baby shower?”
“Yep,” Ben smiled. “Is everyone heading over to Jerry’s after work?”
“Yeah, they reserved the small room in back for us. I’m thinking about taking off early, to see if they need help setting up.”
“Oh, just move some tables around and make sure that the bar is stocked.”
“Cool. What did you get Randall? The baby gift?” Ben asked.
“Oh shit, man, I got him an awesome gift.”
“No way, Chuck,” Ben held up a hand. “The gift I got him will blow your gift away.”
“What did you get him?”
“Shit… I am not telling you. You will try to one-up me the last minute. You’ll just have to wait and see.”
“Ha! OK. I am going to head that way. See you a little later.”
At 5:00, Ben was already standing on the curb outside of Jerry’s; a twelve pack of Bud Light tucked under one arm and a pack of diapers under the other. A few moments before, he had taken the liberty of writing “FROM: BEN CHESTER” with sharpie on both packages. He didn’t think his gift needed a frilly bow, but he slid a stick of beef jerky alongside one of the bottles of beer for good measure.
Opening the heavy wooden door of Jerry’s required superhuman skills, but Ben pulled it off like a pro. He nodded at Jerry at the bar and walked toward the back room.
The small room was bursting full of business casual, and Randall was already engaged in a round of shots at the corner bar. Ben waved at a few friends and headed toward the back of the room to drop of his baby gifts.
Two tables had been set up for gifts. One completely full of diapers; most were unwrapped, but a few sported bows. Ben figured this would be a common purchase for most of the party goers, so he had bought a larger size to accommodate a growing baby.
He had just slid the diapers onto the table when he noticed the presents on the next one. His heart sank. The table was almost buckling under the weight of cases of beer, bottles of wine, boxes of wine, whiskey, Jagermeister, and coffee. In the mix there were packages of peanuts, microwave popcorn, and nudie magazines.
“I think we should call it a draw,” Chuck laughed as he smacked Ben on the back. “Come on, we’re already behind.”
“Indeed,” Ben said as the two headed toward the bar and guest of honor.
Ben crept into bed a little before midnight, and Melanie’s eyes flicked open. “Nice baby shower?” she asked.
“Yeah,” he yawned, “Randall got a nice haul.”
“What did you decide to get him?”
“Oh, I decided on something practical.”
“That’s nice,” Melanie mustered before falling back to sleep.