It’s been over a year since I attended this baby shower which was a train wreck from beginning to end. I hope that I can remember all of the details to convey the horror we experienced over the hostess’ behavior.
I went through a training class at my current place of employment. After getting out of the training class, we were all divided up and sent to various pre-established units throughout the building, as that is the way that our office is organized. It is a well known custom in the office that small bridal and baby showers are thrown for employees by the members of their unit, which are generally nice little potluck affairs. People bring a small gift (a pack of baby onesies from target, etc) and it’s a modest celebration that doesn’t put anyone out too much and allows everyone to use a little extra company time to socialize than their lunch break would normally allow.
A few months after we separated into units, one of our fellow trainees, “Melissa,” had found out she was pregnant. We knew she was struggling with this revelation as she had just recently moved to our city after separating from her husband, who we had already learned had not been the best of fathers or husbands. One of the girls from our training class, “Cassie,” told us all that she knew that Melissa didn’t have friends or family close by, and because of this would like to throw a baby shower for her and invite all of the former trainees and a few of Melissa’s friends. Even though I had always found Cassie to be a bit abrasive, I thought it was a sweet gesture for her to go above and beyond the normal office-standard so that we could possibly get Melissa some of the bigger items that we knew it would be difficult for her to afford one her own (we all were hired at the same modest salary, and I still don’t know how she stretches that for her and the two kids she already has). I and several of the girls from the office told Cassie we would love to attend, just let us know when and where.
Cassie let us know when and where – and how much. She told us that it was to take place at one of the swankier uptown clubs – think country club inside of a sky scraper – where she used to work. We were all to get $25 dollars to her for the cost of our meals. I was taken aback that Cassie was “hosting” a party we were all supposed to pay for. She also told us that she couldn’t afford alcohol, but if anyone else wanted she would “sneak some white wine in.” I didn’t think it was appropriate for the other guests to be drinking when the guest of honor clearly couldn’t, but again kept my opinions to myself. Cassie proceeded to tell us over the next two months how she was planning so much for the party and how she “didn’t know planning a baby shower took this much effort.”
Well, apparently her version of planning a baby shower and mine are different. Her planning, as became apparent, meant buying a pair of hooker platform heels online along with a short brown patterned dress with a puffy red crinoline which showed off way too much of her assets. As soon as I and the other coworkers got there, we saw her standing with a hand on her hip, other hand poised with a full wine glass which she proclaimed was her “third of the morning.” And when she was getting her hair and nails professionally done (for a baby shower?) she shared with us that they had been generous with the “flirtinis”. She then shared with us some “bad news.” Apparently, she had banned the guest of honor from bringing her children and told her she needed to find a sitter. How a single mother of modest resources and new to the city is supposed to find a sitter for Saturday afternoon is unknown to me, but apparently Melissa had found one; however, the sitter had backed out two weeks before the shower and Melissa had been unable to secure a new one. Cassie shared with us how peeved she was Melissa didn’t have a back up sitter and that it took “some nerve” to bring her kids to this event as she was supposedly about to do.
Once we were all assembled, Cassie took another gulp of wine and, after scanning the room with a critical eye, announced that we all “better remember this” when she gets pregnant. We then served ourselves awkwardly from a few nice looking platters of sandwiches and fruit (which did not look to be $25 worth). There were no games and the hostess made no efforts to introduce people or get conversation started – she simply sat back with her nose in the air, waiting for people to talk with her and shooting disdainful looks at Melissa’s energetic children. They may have been a little more active then I would normally have liked, but were clearly providing the only entertainment.
After the meal and forced conversation were over, we encouraged Melissa to open her gifts. Cassie just stared at her, and so another of Melissa’s friends (thankfully realizing Cassie would be no help) whipped out some extra paper and a pen and offered to keep track of names/gifts. Melissa graciously thanked everyone for their gifts. Cassie looked unimpressed and shot a few more angry looks at the children. Melissa opened Cassie’s gift which was supposedly some really nice, obscure baby related item. Melissa thanked Cassie for it as graciously as she had thanked all the other guests for their contributions, but Cassie looked (and later confirmed at work, several times), like she thought her gift deserved far more praise. At last we moved on to the cake which Cassie made a point of letting everyone know that she had paid $70 for – I don’t think I’ll forget that fact as long as I live. I nibbled on my cake and, after a few pictures were snapped, got out of there as fast as I could.
Next Monday, Cassie made it clear she felt that Melissa’s children had ruined the party and she couldn’t believe that Melissa had never purchased her a hostess gift. For my part, I received a lovely thank you note for my gift within a week. Since this shower Cassie had a mental breakdown at work and moved out of state to be close to her parents. I’ve heard she’s expecting a little boy this summer, and I just wonder who has had the honor of planning her shower. 0224-11
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