Monday, November 6, 2006

Three Kinds of Showers

The cakes were supposed to look exactly like the ones in the Martha Stewart magazine. Wynn got all of the ingredients. I just volunteered at the last moment to come over and help. But it was that moment when she opted against the fondant that everything kind of just went down hill. We spent the evening staring at the candy thermometer waiting for that crucial soft ball stage, mixing, pouring, baking, and still nothing was frosted. I pooped out at 10 pm with promises that I would return in the morning.

Saturday never really dawned, but more sort of became a lighter shade of grey. Rain streamed from the heavens reminding me that yes, the Seattle winter was indeed inevitable and has indeed arrived. And God decided to give us all the rain at once.

Ick, ick, ick, I thought to myself as I raced to the Durango, wondering why I decided to be the martyr when I lent Lee my umbrella. I suppose it’s that soft spot for pregnant ladies. But still, my freshly coiffed locks weren’t exactly liking the humongous drops of environmental leakage plummeting upon them. I drove through the torrent and near-flooded streets to Target, where I again found myself roaming the baby aisles for yet another baby shower gift. I fingered the soft sleepers and plush toys before deciding on the Boppy, God’s gift to breastfeeding mothers worldwide, and some bibs, because every baby comes with a mandatory oversupply of spit-up and drool and nothing whatsoever so to absorb it all. Sure they wouldn’t be as adorable as the hat with panda ears or the iddy biddy baby robe (really, who puts their child in a baby robe? Totally-scrumptious-pinch-their-cheeks -cute? Hell yes. Practical? I think not.), but I guarantee my gifts will get quadruple the mileage. I may not get the oohs and ahhs upon unwrapping, but like my little tortoise friend, in the long run, I win the baby shower gift race, so BOO-YAH sisters.

So after loading my so very useful but not very adorable baby shower gifts in the car, I rowed my trucks to Wynn’s house. After swimming to her front door and wringing eleventy gallons of water from my coat (why oh why had I worn heels?) I entered her house to save the day.

“Rebecca! You’re here! Thank God.” Wynn cried. “I added food coloring to our buttercream frosting and it curdled to hell, so I tossed it in the food disposal and bought Betty Crocker frosting. Help!”

As visions of exclamations points, candy thermometers, mixing bowls and the recipe’s note that “if frosting curdles upon addition of vanilla keep mixing” dancing in my head, I asked, “Um, did you try mixing it some more?”

Wynn stopped in her tracks, an indescribable look passed over her face and she lifted her chin defiantly, “Well, actually no, I just said ‘F- you’ and tossed it out, but by that time it was so late, and….I should have gotten the fondant, dammit”

Feeling dreadful for abandoning her so the night before, I set about the whipping up the royal icing while she began carving the cake into blocks. After frosting and piping and making a complete mess with plumes of confectioner’s sugar floating through the air, sticking to the moisture from the heavens, no doubt, I compared our efforts to those of our very favoring ex-con home diva and her team and decided that it’s much like the difference between Wal-Mart and Pottery Barn furniture. Wal-mart may strive to give us Pottery Barn styling without the price, but fails miserably in the execution of said goal.

We carefully packed our little baby block cakes into the Durango, and I vowed to drive carefully – no Formula One turns, not one. And she loaded up her Mini with the gifts and we were on our way. No sooner than the turn lane on Northgate did the Durango jerk immensely when I pressed on the gas and the transmission failed to engage immediately. I closed my eyes and slowly turned my head to the cake-filled tray in the passenger seat. Well, let’s just say that the baby blocks because tumbling blocks. I looked at my cell phone. Should I call Wynn and warn her or wait? I opted for the latter, turned up the radio and pretended like nothing had happened.

Half an hour late for the shower, we walked in soaking wet, bearing cake, gifts and tired smiles. We ate and drank and I watched a little two year old terror race around the clearly unchildproofed house while her weary mother halfheartedly breastfed her baby brother. When he was done eating, I asked his mother if she would like a break. She eagerly handed him off to me and went off to fill her plate, able to eat with two hands for probably the first time all day, so I found myself holding a baby for the first time since Oliver.

I smelled his baby smell and kissed his baby cheeks and held his baby hands. His baby eyes pierced my own, and I laughed when he tried to give me a hickey. But it wasn’t until he fell asleep in my arms that emotions overwhelmed me. Looking down upon his little baby lips softly parted in sleep immediately transported me to that day in the hospital when I held Oliver that one last time and gazed down at his little baby lips softly parted in death. Tears filled my eyes, and I quickly turned my back on the party urging the drops to disappear. And as I continued to look at him through the sheen of tears, I felt my heart lift and the joy return. It was a needed moment, and I felt triumphant.

When Steve and I were together that evening, I curled up in his arms on the couch and looked up at him amazed as always how like him little Oliver was even after only ten days. “I held a baby today,” I said.

He raised his eyebrows, “Oh? How did that feel?”

I smiled and kissed his cheek. “Really, really good.”