Friday, April 23, 2010

Something Practical

“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?”

“A baby.”

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.”

“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.”

“Later, Bro.”

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.


  1. Hilarious!

    Something practical, indeed. :)

    Loved your different something.

  2. You're awesome.

    Made me smile and I have a test in three hours. Basically, Jesus couldn't do that right now, so you > Jesus.

  3. What else did they expect when guys give a baby shower? LMAO!

  4. Raucous and a good time. Loved it.

  5. Aw are we men really that predictable and unimaginative? I loved your descriptions of the shops he failed with in the beginning.

    Nice work

    marc nash

  6. What makes me laugh is that I thought it was a really good idea! Nicely done, enjoyed it immensely :)

  7. HA! Thank you so much for the awesome comments. I was actually a hostess at my cousin's baby shower last weekend, and this idea occured to me on the long drive home.

    We notice, boys, how your eyes glaze over when we are talking about the cutesy decor or the sweet little outfits at our girlfriends' showers. How you could really care less that she has morning sickness or the names she has picked out for her baby... unless it's something catchy (a old gf, a famous linebacker, or one that you can make fun of in a crude manner).

    I love these traits... in moderation ;-).

  8. Way to really get into the mind of a guy, heh. Very fun.

  9. Excellent. Leave it to a guy...

    Thoroughly enjoyed this.

  10. Yes practical!!
    and fun
    and funny you had me laughing out loud : loved it xx

  11. The picture of him standing with diapers and beer under either arm immediately made me think of the movie Raising Arizona, which, (I admit), I loved.

    This is absolutely hilarious! Thanks for the laughs.

  12. Hysterical! Yeah, that's probably what my husband would've done. The dad-to-be probably loved all the alcohol because he doesn't have to share it with his wife.


  13. GREAT STORY... GREAT IDEA and such a wonderful execution

  14. Oh, how unkind.

    Not untrue, mind you, just unkind. :D

    Smoothly written 2, and I loved the exchange between Ben and Melanie at the beginning. Excellent back-and-forth.

  15. Funny thing is... just last week I went to a baby shower (for a mother by women) but several spouses and the dad were there too. This was the second shower like this recently. I don't think the "man baby shower" is going to be a rare event at all!

    Great execution, as the others said. Guy comraderie--can't beat it.

    (BTW, my words were: ebb, negotiate, random)

  16. Valerie - growing up my best friends were always guys... they make it so easy ;-)

    Gracie - Thanks! I am glad you liked it, and I can't thank you enough for reading it.

    Michelle - it makes my weekend that you laughed out loud. I thought it was a funny idea, but writing it for some reason I was completely immune. I was really hoping that it was just my weirdo horemones getting in the way ;-)

    Deanna - I haven't seen that movie in FOREVER, but I too loved it. I think I should quest for it this weekend. My collection will thank you for such a brilliant idea.

    Cecilia - hahahaha. My husband might not actually purchase those things, but I bet you a dollar he would think it was a good idea.

    Bukowski - Thank you :-) I was so worried no one would like it *Whew*

    Kevin - I apologize for the unkindness. Please note that Ben is not a symbol for all men. Quite possiblly the men in my story are quite unlike any you've ever experienced... this could be a very good case of alien body snatchery ;-)

    Peggy - I was at one last weekend,too, but no man could be found there. Actually, the only baby shower I have been to where a guy was present, was my sister's... I think the promise of letting my bro-in-law open all of the presents temporarily blinded him. OH, and thank for the 3 words... my OCD can rest now ;-)

    Thank you so much for reading. Your comments have truly made my weekend

    OH, and Mollie... LMAO! :-P

  17. Sad but true... :)
    Very funny! I think you hit the nail on the head.

  18. Well, there's practical... and then again, there's a guy's version of practical! Love this :-)

  19. Oh, come on. You mean no one got him a game for his X-Box?

  20. The title fit this one perfectly. All the gifts were practical! Good story.

  21. Diddies and beer. Is there ANYTHING better?
    Great story! Fun, sophisticated, original.
    Sending men to buy shower gifts is akin to sending men shopping: they always come back with bologna and chips and think the world is their oyster.
    (That should stir up a hornet or two)

  22. This was such fun to read. You really got into the head of your male character. I enjoyed this and your sense of humor. Well done.

  23. Cute story, but should you be advocating beer for babies? :)

    Seriously, this was a great story.

  24. OH, I loved this!! Made me laugh. LOVED the description of the shopping. "While the colors and tiny outfits in the window said baby, the interior screamed adult bondage..." I couldn't quit laughing. Reminded me of a particular boutique in town, which shall remain nameless. And--poor guys--"While asking for help at the third stop, the clerk spoke to him in a sickly sweet voice, “Are you a new daddy?”"--no wonder they become unimaginative. To be fair, though, my ex-husband was wonderful at this stuff and more into it than I was many (um...most) times...