Monday, May 09, 2011

Curmudgeon notes how wedding showers have changed

Long Suffering Spouse and I went to a wedding shower Saturday evening; the groom is the son of friends we've known since college.

It's a typical May in the Curmudgeon household: We didn't know we'd be able to go until the last minute; our niece's Communion, originally scheduled for the 7th, was mysteriously moved to the 21st at the last moment. Embracing the new plan, however, we printed out the greed lists Saturday afternoon before deciding which store we'd hit to buy a present.

I've called wedding registries "greed lists" since before I was a blushing bridegroom, but these have certainly changed.

Computers, and the ability to get the lists at home instead of only in the store, are part of it, but only part. The real change seems to be what's included.

We decided which store to hit and went over there forthwith. We found a set of casserole dishes that was on the list right away, but I wanted to add a little something else to the gift bag. "How about a corkscrew?" I suggested.

"They have one on their list, but that's not the right model number," Long Suffering Spouse responded, and looked again at the sheaf of papers in her hand. "And, besides, it's been 'fulfilled.'"


"They got it already."

"Oh." I looked around a little more. "Here's something no married couple should be without -- a rolling pin."

"It's not maple."

"Maple?" I asked.

"Yes," Long Suffering Spouse answered, consulting the list, "and it's not the right brand."

Now I can see that one can not have guests picking out china or flatware randomly. The bride and the groom have to select a pattern that they like. I can even understand that the bride and groom would be less than thrilled with appliances in assorted colors. But does a balloon whisk really have to be made by Kitchen Wiz? Does it really matter that the egg slicer be stock no. 23541 -- even when it bears an uncanny resemblance to the egg slicer listed as stock no. 23542?

Computers have made it too easy to list all sorts of nitpicky things. The happy couple might not really care if the Acme brand rubber spatula is substituted for the Uberkitchen brand. But who wants to take the risk?

The reason young men put up with wedding showers in the first place is that these are heaven-sent opportunities to acquire a lot of the "stuff" that the youngsters took for granted in their parents' homes. When a kid takes a shower at home, there's a towel. When a kid goes to sleep at night (even twenty-somethings sleep eventually) there are sheets on the bed. When someone needs a dish to put the leftovers in, there's one in the cabinet.

Though wedding showers are heaven-sent opportunities for the kids, the groom often has to go through the Other Place to achieve it. My wife's family had a "traditional" wedding shower when I was the groom. This was the cucumber sandwich, women-only, lots-of-ribbons-and-don't-you-dare-cut-one sort. The groom is trundled out at the end of these proceedings, ostensibly to rescue his bride from the hen party, but really to be inspected and patted and judged by the assembled womenfolk, some of whom are seeing him for the first time. Older female relatives pinch cheeks.

Long Suffering Spouse didn't much care for these types of gatherings either. When Older Daughter and Oldest Son married, we sponsored 'couples' showers. There was pizza and wine and beer and not a crustless bread triangle with an orange, gooey filling in sight. Our college friends chose to have a couples shower for their son, too, which was why I was along for the ride Saturday.

There wasn't any pizza Saturday -- this close to Cinco de Mayo, there was plenty of Corona and a pretty tasty buffet from a local Mexican restaurant. The party was in our hosts' backyard -- it being May, most people would not worry about frostbite. Life-long Chicagoans know better, however, and our hosts had thoughtfully procured a large tent and heaters. Long Suffering Spouse and I gravitated to the heaters forthwith.

The gift table was in our corner of the tent, too, and we were making book at our table about whether any of the tissue paper in the gift bags in front of the blowers might catch fire before the gifts could be opened (fortunately, this did not happen).

The gifts were in bags from Macy's and Target and Crate and Barrel -- all the places where the happy couple had established greed lists -- and it looks like they did very well indeed.

But not all of their requests were "fulfilled." And it's no wonder: At least, I can't imagine anyone buying a Playstation 3 as a shower or wedding gift -- and, yet, there it was on one of the greed lists. These kinds of devices certainly weren't on greed lists when I got married. (And not just because these kinds of devices hadn't been invented. I mean... there were TVs when I got married, but I don't remember anyone ever putting a TV on a wedding registry.)

I've been mulling this over all weekend now. Clearly, a Playstation 3 is not something essential to setting up housekeeping. But, then, neither are 12 place-settings of fine china. Yet, china would have been a perfectly acceptable gift.

Obviously, one or both of the happy couple enjoys games on Playstation. But whatever machine they have access to now must belong to someone else -- a parent, a roommate, a sibling. It would probably be used more than the fancy china.

So... having initially decided it was ridiculous and inappropriate, I now find myself torn. Is it appropriate for the bride and groom to request a Playstation 3 (or Wii or Xbox or whatever) or not? Readers, what say ye?


Jean-Luc Picard said...

Playstations are so essential!

Ellee Seymour said...

I've never seen a PlayStation on a wedding list. As long as it has two consoles, at least then they can play together.

sari said...

It is not essential, nor should they ask for it.

By the way, I just used my parent's wedding china the other night. All of our dishes were in the dishwasher (we had Mother's Day here) and they came in handy.

For once. ha ha