Naturally, the sequel to la boda (the wedding) is el baby shower. In Mexico, it has all of the ingredients of its namesake fiesta al norte (gifts, food, party games) but with a cultural twist that makes it hard to believe there’s not a separate word for it in Spanish.
My friend Siobhan had warned me not to cross my legs or I’d have to put on a giant diaper; José wasn’t listening and had to put on a diaper before he’d been there five full minutes.
The party was at the house of Emilio’s (the new dad’s) parents, where he and Dafne live about 10 feet from the main house. Sam’s Club must do a heck of a business in its folding utility tables and chairs, because every household has a stash for events – if the family comes, it’s already a crowd even without extra friends.
The biggest thing about un baby shower is the over-the-top party games. Not to sound surly, but I hate party games. As a recovering perfectionist, I still really don’t like to look and sound stupid, which is pretty funny given that I’ve chosen to live in a foreign culture where I continually look and sound stupid. Throw in the possibility for language misinterpretation PLUS a silly party game, and this was a double whammy. But I was trying to be a good sport.
First we tied balloons on our ankles and tried to stomp the other participants’ balloons – how this related to pregnancy, I wasn’t sure. My balloon popped at the get-go. Then there was a list of girls’ names (the sonogram shows it’s a chica) from A-M, and I thought I did pretty well on that, even coming up with Eulalia and Henrietta.
There was a round of musical chairs, and a race balancing a lime in a plastic spoon in your mouth – mine fell out on the first step. We passed around a roll of toilet paper, tearing off the measure that we thought Dafne’s belly was. Missed that one by a long shot.
But the best game (partially because I wasn’t in it) was one where participants were blindfolded and told they had to straddle Dafne’s belly as she lay on the ground (though it was really just pillows and balloons). Her Tía Lety, a tiny square dynamo in a green peekaboo lace dress, acted like a hoochie dancer as she hiked her dress up and got lower and lower over the pillows.
Before she took off the blindfold, a guy got down on the floor so that she’d think she’d been straddling him – so she gave everyone a glimpse of the black underwear that supposedly he’d seen from below. This a baby shower, mind you – though Tía Lety made it seem more like a bachelorette party.
Every round of games came with a set of prizes: colored marshmallows (bonbons) on sticks, bright little candy animals that taste like Sweet Tarts, and plastic bags of candy that included licorice eggs. The final party favor was a wire stork basket filled with more marshmallows and candy.
Of course there was food: two kinds of tostadas, pork and chicken pozole, agua de jamaica, all different flavors of gelatina and wafer cookies soaked in sweetened condensed mllk. The two small children at the party were on a sugar buzz, racing back and forth with wheeled toys until they succumbed to a nap-deprived meltdown.
Towards the end of the party, I forgot about crossing my legs and yes, had to put on the diaper – a folded baby blanket that wouldn’t even wrap around my gringa proportions, once again a double whammy of embarrassment.
Well, what the heck: they already know I’m all over my verb tenses in Spanish, can’t stomp a balloon or carry a lime in a spoon in my mouth.
Diapers aside, a good time was had by all.
— Susan Bean Aycock, embracingthechaos.org