If you have any doubt that women can, and soon will, run the world, hang out at a baby shower.
Daughter-in-law Wendy is expecting a son in February, and our house in Garden Grove was ground zero for the customary deluge of clothing, cake and contests. As a mere male, I was consigned to the margins, used for heavy lifting, errand running and staying-out-of-the-way.
Saturday was my first close-up look at a baby shower. Wendy, who in her professional life is an aeronautical engineer (translation: rocket scientist), arranged this pre-natal bacchanalia, along with my Marilyn, with military precision. No, wait … as a military reservist, I have to say with “better-than-military” precision.
The invitations, the cake, and the theme – “I Love you to the Moon And Back” – all approached the D-Day invasion for precision planning, follow-through and inspired thinking. The attendance likelihood of potential attendees was tracked like NASA scanning the skies for thunderclouds as a space shuttle launch approached.
My own participation was, happily, as cheap labor. As impressive as the whole event was, I knew that if I drew too close, I would start to gasp and stagger in the presence of all that estrogen in the air. I was used for hauling stuff around, climbing the ladder to tack up decorations, and making emergency runs to stores to secure vital supplies.
Of course, it’s the emergencies that demonstrate why women will soon rule the planet. You might argue that men might be more reliable in the case, for example, of an alien invasion, but how often do those happen? It’s the everyday crises that show the true mettle of a person or group.
Our major crisis occurred through an abundance of tidiness. The kitchen floor consists of big ol’ tiles laid over the concrete slab. The undulating of Mother Earth here in the Shakeytown area produced a couple of cracked titles. Well, can’t have that when the tribes are gathering, can we?
Kevin, our excellent contractor, yanked up the old tiles. In the process, he kicked up a perfect storm of fine dust. The particulate matter settled like unmelting snow across every horizontal surface on the entire first floor. He, of course replaced the tiles, regrouted the whole thing, and the repair job was finished.
Being a consummate professional, he also cleaned up all the dust. Ah, but as you know, no good deed goes unpunished. He used an oil-based cleaner fine for furniture, but slippery and dicey for being underfoot.
Wendy and Marilyn could see gift-bearing arrivees slipping and tumbling as they walked across the hardwood floors of the front room. I was steeling myself to catch the presents as they flew through the air.
But female resourcefulness swung into action. Wendy did the Google thing and learned that vinegar would lift the oily residue, so the team attacked the problem with that aromatic liquid and elbow grease. It did, indeed, remove the dangerous skid-threat, but another problem occurred.
The whole house smelled like a dinner salad.
“Candles!” said Wendy’s mother Linda. The smell of the waxy little lanterns would – together with opened windows – defeat the sour aroma, and by gosh it worked.
By the time the guests started arriving, the entire situation was smoothly in hand and a good time was had by all.
It made me imagine how I would respond to just such a challenge. Men like to either ignore problems (“I like the smell of vinegar”) or suggest impractical solutions (“Let’s just scatter some sawdust on the floor” or “I can have the whole floor carpeted in two or three days.”)
Extrapolate this attitude into politics and governance. It looks to me like most of the climate change deniers are male. When danger lurks (Gulf of Tonkin, Iraq, Newtown), men seem fast to reach for the most expensive and disruptive solution possible.
So what are you saying, Jim? That the ability of women to organize and conduct a successful baby shower is the harbinger of the eclipse of male dominance? And you’re saying this admiringly?
Not exactly. One hates to generalize, but it’s been my experience that while women are supreme at cooperative enterprises, men tend to thrive in a competitive environment. If men organized baby showers, they’d probably put up a scoreboard and rank all the presents based on desirability and expense. The embarrassed tail-enders would have to “up” their game for the next event, creating an inflationary spiral in which newborns would be getting new Hyundai’s as pre-birth gifts.
If women do eventually rule the world, it will give men more free time to organize their own events. I hope the world is ready for “Baby Stroller Demolition Derby.”