09:03:20 pm on
Friday 24 Nov 2017

Not on My Bucket List
David Simmonds


The term “bucket list” has wormed its way into our vocabulary. We’ve had the 2007 movie featuring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, and a surge in the sales of a new category of books with titles like “100 places to see before you die.” The way I see it, and call me a sentimental old existentialist if you wish, the “before you die” bit is just a sales gimmick.

Regardless of the provenance of the expression, I don’t have a personal bucket list. If I did, the item that I crossed off my potential list a few days ago would not have been on it to begin with. It’s not that I was averse to putting it on; it’s just that it wouldn’t have occurred to me to do so.

No, it wasn’t mushing sled dogs in the Yukon. It was attending a baby shower.


The co-ed baby shower was not on my non-existent bucket list.

As I made the journey through parenthood, I always thought of the baby shower as an exclusively female preserve. All that I knew about it was that female friends and relatives got together with the new mother-to-be, or mother-in-fact, presented her with useful presents for the family addition and played “silly games.” Any inquiry into the nature of those games resulted stonewalling, “Oh, you know; just silly games.”

I was intrigued to receive an invitation to my wife and I for a “co-ed” baby shower. Our hosts had put a lot of effort into the event, with special attention to making male guests feel ‘comfortable.’

Indeed, as I checked various websites on co-ed showers, this was the theme of most of the postings. Atmomtastic.com, for example, I found these helpful hints. “To help men feel more comfortable at a traditionally ladies only event, special games and beverages are in order. Don’t decorate like the typical women’s only shower. Since men and women will be attending, the decor should appeal to both. A modern shower set-up makes men and women feel welcome.

“At a females only shower it’s good to have a registry. At a co-ed shower, a registry is essential. Men, having been to significantly fewer baby showers on average than women, might not know what type of gift to bring to a shower, so make it easy for them! Do have a variety of good beer. If the women are happy sipping on champagne and mimosas, the men should have a beverage they enjoy as well. If you stay away from the Coors Light and opt for a mixture of microbrews, the shower won’t feel like a frat party. Of course, ladies may partake as well.”

From babycenter.com, came these pearls. “If you plan to hand out party favours, realize that most men don't find jellybeans in a baby bottle all that adorable. We had the party at a pizza joint and we made sure all the men knew that the football games and hockey games would be on.”


I’m still a little bit confused.

I’m all for the concept of de-genderising the roles of parents or should I say, more pointedly, the opening up of the hard work of infant rearing to males. Therefore, the idea of a co-ed baby shower makes a lot of sense to me.

Yet, am I the only one who feels there is a certain amount of gender stereotyping, in the effort to make men feel ‘comfortable’? Do only men like beer and pizza? Do only women like champagne and mimosas? Who says that men don’t find jellybeans in a bottle adorable?

Maybe I’m approaching the problem from the middle instead of the beginning. Perhaps, if men had stepped up to the co-parenting plate more resolutely, over the years, there would be less awkwardness in planning baby showers that involved men as some kind of invasive species. Had I expressed more interest in participating years ago, instead of sloughing baby showers off as my partner’s domain, we’d all be comfortable with co-ed baby showers by now. Perhaps I should have put it on, and then checked it off my bucket list years ago.

I know what you’re wondering. You want to know what co-ed “silly games” we played. Well, I sealed my lips, unfortunately. Oh, the stories I could tell if I felt no such constraint!


I have a candidate for my bucket list.

I have no idea whether the games played at a co-ed party differ in any significant way from the games played at an all-female party. I’m not privy to that secret, yet. Maybe I’ll add that one to my future bucket list so I can check it off, sooner rather than later.

 

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Mike Barnacle, the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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