Monday, May 24, 2010

The Bridal Shower Gift

Sometimes (and by "sometimes" I mean all the freaking time) I feel like I am pretending to be an adult and I'm in way over my head. Like severely sucking at it. Partly this is exacerbated by moving in with M, which feels like playing house. Or being on vacation. And I keep thinking I will be going back to my own apartment soon and I had better live it up in the meantime. By eating junk food and keeping everything clean. (I don't get it either. My brain has a path all its own.)

Anyway, I have succeeded in being an adult in a few ways recently, including impressively making the bed each morning. I have also managed to:
(note that I have been known to do the exact opposite of all of these on a regular basis)
  • Buy flowers for the dining room
  • Turn off all the lights at night and sleep in a bed (not a couch)
  • Keep the coffee table clear of bills, dirty glasses, spoons and drawing pens
  • Put almost all of my dirty clothes in the laundry basket (not the bed)
  • Not leave the Brita picher empty in the fridge (To be fair, we don't actually use the Brita at all since we bought a Pur filter for the sink. This was a slight point of contention, solved when the filter-free faucet spat out a large bug. No more Bug Water, no more Brita.)
  • Also, my gym bag is not residing in the middle of the living room

Unfortunately this has taken all of my adult capabilities, as this is how I have failed at being an adult recently:
  • The flowers I bought died and they are still prominently displayed on the dining room table
  • I forgot to change my address for 70% of my bills
  • I left my comb, brush, razor, conditioner, and a pair of socks at the gym all on separate occasions and have had to buy another version of each of them again
  • I am clearly incapable of unloading the dishwasher or taking out the trash
  • I have not once watered or even looked at the two plants we have (To be fair, I did tell M that if he wanted to put the plants eight feet high in the kitchen, that I would most likely not remember that they are there as it is a good three feet above my sightline. I was right. Also, I killed a cactus once and have a decidedly red-for-danger thumb.)
  • I am highly uncomfortable in adult situations, like bridal showers and graduation ceremonies.

I suppose this last one is not something I just "discovered" while trying to be a real person. This is just consistent with my personality. I don't really like sitting still and making small talk. I am severely crowd-averse and I don't remember names or identifying details very well. Also, I very much think the bridal shower tradition of making people watch you open presents is tedious and weird. Even though I'm pretty sure I did this at every one of my birthday parties until I was 17.

Is this a tradition because the tradition is to show as much extra attention on the bride as humanly possible or is it a tradition because old people go to bridal showers and this is what they expect? (I am picturing a panel of white-haired ladies waving knitting needles in the air and waging a protest against "new-fangled bridal showers" - refusing to attend or send presents if they can't see their own gifts opened to much fanfare and applause.)

If you take into consideration the fact that I have a well-documented inability to lie or otherwise control my facial expressions/compulsive eye-rolling, you can see this as one in a natural line of elements of "The Wedding" that I do not want any part of at my own hypothetical future nuptials. This list includes that damn Corinthians reading that makes me want to strangle people. (Yes, clearly my impatience and rage dictate that I am not in fact the essence of love.)

Anyway, when you are buying presents for a couple who have essentially told you what to buy them via a gift registry, opening these presents is like writing a list of demands to Santa, and then having to pretend you are surprised when you get what you asked for on Christmas morning. Why do we make brides pretend they are not only surprised that you did what they asked, but they are extraordinarily thrilled with how you did? Do we expect that people are innate fuck-ups? (Don't answer that.)

In keeping with my rebellious inclinations toward "The Wedding," I tend to either not buy off of the registry or I try to insert something that will make the gift more than just something to check off of a list. I apologize to any brides that I have annoyed in this process. 

The most recent bridal shower that I went to involved a registry in which almost all of the things I could afford had been purchased already, leaving me with a choice between a $700 rug or a collection of random materials. I determined these were not good enough choices. Especially given that faking your way through excitement becomes even harder when people buy you a box of random crap. My friend A, of the delicious pretzel hostess gifts, is extraordinarily talented at baking cookies and cupcakes. When our boyfriends were roommates, cookies were a running obsession. So, for her bridal shower I bought a baking sheet off of the registry and then found a mini spatula made just for cookies, and cookie cutters in the shape of cupcakes. Neither of which were on the registry.

At this point I was worrying slightly about breaking the rules, so I pimped out the Crate and Barrel box:

To break this down for you - A and J are the initials of the betrothed. That striped panel with the cookie peeking out the top is a library pocket stuffed with shopping cards for cookie recipes. And the green sheets are cookie recipes attached to the handle with a metal ring.

For the shopping cards, I drew a picture of each type of cookie and then listed the ingredients needed for the recipe, directing A to Bon App├ętit's website for the full recipe instructions:

The idea is that when you want to make one of the cookies, you pick up the card and bring it to the store instead of copying down the whole recipe. But also I hand-wrote them the night before the shower and did not have time, patience or enough index cards to write out the whole recipe.

Faking it at being an adult is helping me feel like I am sucking at it less.

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