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Umbrella Alert: Selective Showers Ahead! July 28, 2012

Posted by Onely in As If!, Heteronormativity.
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Getting married is more admirable than travelling to Haiti with Habitat for Humanity. Having a baby is more admirable than writing a biography of a pivotal activist in the gay movement.

At least, this is what an extraterrestrial would think if it landed; after all, we humans (or large percentages of us) almost automatically have Showers to celebrate coupling and breeding, but not to celebrate other large life occurrences, such as post-tragedy-home-building or hours-in-front-of-a-computer-for-the-sake-of-progressive-literature.

Such social conventions favor certain personal choices over others. I can’t get a month off with benefits to do something important to me, like take an intensive Arabic course in Morocco. But the woman one cubicle over can take two months of leave, and never lose her health insurance, just because her important thing is having a baby. (To my annoyance, here I have to preempt some myopic commenters by saying Relax–I am not dissing maternity/paternity leave; in fact, I’m saying it’s so awesome that even baby-free people should get that kind of time off).

Wedding and baby showers follow the same amatonormative (normalizing and preferring pairing) principles as baby leave, but at least they only represent one day of couple-privileging, versus weeks or months. Note: Baby showers are amatonormative because our cultures still mostly consider babies to ideally be the offspring/culmination of a (usually hetero) couple.

So, enough with the social commentary and on with the fun-making.

At a dinner party the other night I made the ill-advised, perhaps judgy-sounding comment: “No more wine, thanks. Early tomorrow I’m going to a baby shower. Those things should be outlawed. Showers, I mean, not babies.”

Another dinner guest, who had recently been showing off pictures of her new twin boys, said,

Oh, but one must have a shower, to get all the stuff one needs!

Indeed. I would like a shower, to get all the stuff I need to support my personal choices. To that end, I have included some helpful descriptions of items that will look great wrapped and stacked on the coffee tables of my happy hosting friends. Yes, it’s ridiculous. But how much more ridiculous is it, really, than the things brides and mothers (and it’s significant that I don’t also say ‘grooms and fathers’) have unwrapped and squealed over at the showers you, Copious Readers, have attended (and financed)?

Come Celebrate! It’s a Graduate School Shower!

512 MB 16″ Ultralite Foldable Waterproof Laptop by Cybertonic:

Built-in microphone records the tiniest mutter of your professor from across the lecture hall. Dual-faced camera shoots both behind and in front of the screen, so you can capture the structure of 2,4-Toluenedisulphonic acid from the whiteboard and also your facial expression as you see it lose its first hydrogen. 4 GB hard drive lets you preserve those precious memories forever, or at least through exam week. Waterproof to three feet and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, this laptop is perfect for those late-night cram sessions in the hot tub with the basketball team.  $1,099.99

LifelongLearner™ Coffee Mug:

Padded handles minimize grip slippage during the caffeine shakes. Comes in Moonless Black for your favorite night owl, Glaring Gold for shiny morning people, and Panicky Pink for procrastinators.  $24.99


Svelt form minimizes drag during sprints to the cafeteria for last-minute donuts but expands to fit your astrophysics texts (padded straps absorb book bounce). Available emblazoned with hand-stitched crosseyed glasses logo for science majors and french fry emblem for humanities students. Mace pocket! $55.99

.5lb Silk-cotton Blend Thesis Paper

Regular pack $20.99; Frequent Printer Jam Pack $35.99; Annoyingly Prolific Pack $99.99

WARNING. The Brilliant Beige version of this product has been recalled due to potential toxic effects of the gloss but other colors should be fine.

“Brain On Board” sign (yellow and black)

The world is full of drivers who are considering rear-ending your graduate student’s car! But with this sign displayed in the back window, those drivers will change their minds!

Regular $5.99; SUV edition $2.99 (smaller brain)

WriterBee Recliner with Adjustable Laptop and Snack Tray

You’ll wonder how you ever wrote and snacked at a regular table. With the easy-attach vacuum nozzle at hand, you or your favorite grad student will never have to worry about grandma’s oatmeal cookie crumbs jamming up the keyboard. Built-in scale with easy-view digital readout in right armrest. Programmable; adorable drunken Hemingway face pops up if you’ve gained more than five pounds since your last writing session. $2279.99 (Optional remote control footrest $399.00)  (Goes great with the Ultralite Foldable Waterproof Laptop by Cybertonic, $1099.99) (Quite a bit of assembly required)

96-inch I-Mac Desktop Computer

Yes, the writer in your life probably already has a perfectly suitable computer (like the Ultralite Foldable Waterproof Laptop by Cybertonic, $1099.99). Suitable for writing, that is.  But not for playing DanceDanceDance! Give your sedentary student a leg up, literally. $2,080.99

Come Hither Reading Glasses

For when your grad student begins his or her job search. Also worn by Paris Hilton and Sarah Palin, these frames come with non-prescription lenses for those who just want to look smart. $15.99

LifelongDrone™ Coffee Mug.

Comes complete with a slot in the handle to store paperclips and a notepad that doubles as a coaster. Is the grad student a burgeoning writer or an artist? They’ll laugh at this gift that says, “Your day job is forever!”  Caution: Use with vodka may cause blocked students to swallow small parts.  $12.69

Thank you all for your kind contributions to my Graduate School Shower! I will be sending out thank-you cards shortly, along with details about my next major life endeavors. I hope to see you at my Living-in-Sin Shower, my Two New Kittens Shower, and especially my Pilgrimage to Palau Shower. Due to baggage restrictions, I prefer checks or cash.


Photo credit:  Laughing in the Rain, by Greything


1. silvergirl3 - July 29, 2012

This is quite possibly my favourite Onely post!! Hilarious and intelligent! Love it!

Onely - August 4, 2012

Thanks silvergirl3! Glad you liked it!

2. guatli - August 1, 2012

This is a GREAT post! And it really demonstrates the absurdity of all the socially acceptable ways couples and parents get to say “give me” but those of us who are single and/or child-free do not.

Onely - August 4, 2012

Thanks Guatli. That is exactly what I was going for. = )

I like how you worded it.

3. Emily - August 7, 2012

I’d never heard of a baby shower – they don’t have them in the UK – but it conjured up interesting images and I gradually figured out what it meant. What a dreadful idea. I thought weddings were bad enough – being asked to give largely unwanted gifts to couples who already have two of everything and live so much more cheaply than single people do. Luckily, more and more people opt for donations to charity instead – a much fairer choice.

The other thing that irritates me is the way child-free single women are dubbed “career women”, the assumption being that if you do not have children, it must be because you are obsessed with your job. It must be that you are cold, ambitious, competitive, unsuited to form relationships…Your boss will expect you to put in overtime and do all the travel because, not having kids, your time is clearly at your employer’s disposal! If you complain, the response is along the lines of, “when you have children” you’ll get a break. I’ve even had colleagues advising me to get pregnant as a way to cope with work (get some time off).

Onely - August 19, 2012

Hm, I didn’t know they don’t have baby showers in the UK. I guess I didn’t really think much about it. I wonder if it’s a U.S. thing or if similar celebrations take place in various countries around the world. I would love to see comments about that. . .

4. tehomet - September 12, 2012

This post is as thought-provoking as usual, and even funnier than usual. 🙂

We don’t have gift showers here in Ireland. All our showers involve either soap and water, or just water. But nonetheless I take your point, and certainly an engaged or newly married couple, or someone having a baby, in this country can certainly expect to have their house fully kitted out with the engagement/wedding/new-baby/christening gifts. And rightly so… just there’s no cultural parity for single people and people without kids.

And that’s not even touching on maternity/paternity/parental leave provisions.

I read somewhere that at least some companies now provide a certain number of ‘points’ for each employee. The ‘points’ have enough value that they can be cashed or used to ‘purchase’ days off, sufficient to equal statutory maternity/paternity/parental leave. If the employee doesn’t have kids, the ‘points’ can be used for regular leave or towards health club membership or other benefits. I liked the sound of that.

Onely - September 22, 2012

Tehomet, I was just talking the other day with a coworker about all our colleagues who take time off again and again to have child after child, while we work and cover for them. We had decided that we need Life Event Leave, which made me think of your points system.

I should move to Ireland. (Maybe I will if Romney gets elected.) = )

5. SWC - October 28, 2012

Bwahahaha! I think I’ll start throwing birthday parties for my cats and inviting all my friends to attend and bring canned food and sparkly new toys. This is a great post!

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