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Baby showers not for the faint of heart

Looking back, I’m not sure which of the two was scarier.

Hopping aboard an open-air trolley at night, without a baseball bat, and riding around Jacksonville waiting for something to jump at me or, heaven help us, touch my shoulder, is fright-worthy indeed. Some ghost types stand gossamer-like in a yard or peer furtively from a window. When you focus, you see them warning you off, or worse, beckoning you closer. I enjoyed it so much in years past, I plan to revisit the foray through the dark via the deserted streets of a town wrapped in history.

But last week I did something twice as scary — I went to a baby shower.

Oh, I don’t mean to say that I feared it would be catching or anything. I’ll start from the beginning. Upon entering the Franklins’ wonderful home in the Applegate, cheer and goodwill embraced me. Moose welcomed me. Not real ones, but decorations in keeping with an outdoor theme for baby TJ. Professionally decorated cookies resembling onesies were positioned in a basket. I took twins.

I walked into a warm kitchen, the counter laden with platters of food. I knew a couple of guests and met new ones. Sandy, while professing to not do baby showers, made a convincing effort for their daughter Paige’s sake. Just about the time we felt relaxed and amiable, things changed. Sandy herded us into a smaller room with chairs positioned in circular fashion. I saw props on a table nearby. We’d been lulled into a false sense of ease. It was time for — baby shower games.

I can be such a gullible ninny, I’m sure I spoke up loud and clear to let the games begin. I’d always done fairly well with competitions involving thought and words, but let me tell you, shower games have changed. They now require less mental and more athletic talents. They are now specifically tailored to make utter fools of participants. Sandy stood conspicuously off, smiling and hollering instructions, while never joining in.

Our first attempt at winning a prize arrived in jars of baby food. We were to smell them and guess what flavor of edible they held without gagging. Remember, we just ate. So, we’re passing around these jars, and I’m doing my best to remember what food comes in these things. Applesauce, squash, bologna, uh ... There were 10, each one more insipid than the first. One smelled like banana but was the color of shrimp-flavored cat food. Cat food I knew. I’d be a shoe-in if she passed around cans of Fancy Feast. I thought I did pretty well, though. Then Sandy read the answers. Muck like apple-carrot and squash-pea (combined?). Oh, yeah, there were weird combos no self-respecting infant would touch. I wiped my brow after getting half right but didn’t win.

The next game didn’t smell as bad but pushed us nearer the idiot category. I was asked to place a paper plate on my head and, with a marker, draw a baby’s face as Sandy, who cannot draw and command space cadets simultaneously, told us which facial features to draw. Pleased to see that mine came darn close to a Chagall, I lost to a couple of young women whose plate portraits looked like Gerber babies. Ah, me. Who knew they wanted realism?

Another “game” assumed one could discern by touch half-inch safety pins from a surrounding bowl of rice. This to be done from the head, as well. Sandy seemed happiest when we balanced oddities on our heads. I lucked out with one stinking pin. The final humiliation involved holding a chopstick in our teeth and trying to collect pacifiers from a table top. I kid you not. So I came home a loser except for the cookies plus the honor of having photos of me performing these feats on social media. It pays to be the photographer.

I’m looking forward to a relaxing trolley ride this weekend. Boo.

Reach freelance writer Peggy Dover at pcdover@hotmail.com and on her Facebook page.

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