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Funny Contemporary

I’m sitting underneath a balloon banner tied between two topiaries in the shape of 5-foot tall pigskins. Angie said that the footballs were for my husband Carl, to allure to his manliness and love of sports. The shininess of the vellum balloons highlights the heavy glow, er I mean sweatiness of my protruding belly. This kind of sweat could never be compared to that of a glow, but that of a dripping wet towel on the clothesline. Someone needs to wring me out. 

The balloons read, “Welcome Baby Carl Jr.” Obnoxiously written in the world’s peppiest font, this balloon banner was meant to welcome guests to my baby shower instead my guests are straight-up confused. 

“Carl’s Jr., I don’t get it, Raquel. That’s a burger place.” 

 Yes, Grandma Dorothy, I know that. I don’t have the heart to tell Angie or Carl that this baby would not be named Carl Jr., but I could let them think so for a little while longer. I find it hard to feel any sort of excitement as this baby has given me the lava burps from hell for the last three months. Angie expects me to not sweat off three layers of foundation and smile through all of the god-awful games she has planned. 

I have words for my best friend Angie, and they’re not the kind of words that suggest we’ll be besties until the end of time. Angie was all rah-rah-sis-boom-bah about anything party-related. This whole co-ed baby shower was her idea, not mine.

“Raquel, trust me I saw this all over Pinterest. Everyone and I mean everyone is going the co-ed route. Can you think of a better way to celebrate you both?” 

Yes, I could actually. We could do this without Carl and his beer-drinking, meathead friends for one. 

If I had my way everyone would drop the damn gifts off on my porch. I’d wave at them from behind the window in my living room where the lower part of my body would hover over the air conditioning vent, pantsless, the way God intended pregnant women to be in the summer. Carl could stand on the porch and thank them with the pride of a man who just bought a brand new John Deere tractor, and I could be there without any pants.

Angie insisted, and when Angie insists there isn’t much I can do to tell her no. At the very least I’ll get a few things for “Carl Jr.” out of this baby shower.

I met Carl at an insurance conference for a global company we both work for. He was the designated Happiness Manager for Not the Beneficiary Insurance Co. My dating app profile said that a sense of humor was far more important to me than looks or the size of say, a bank account. Carl’s pickup line was presented to me during a moment of weakness. I’d just had a client drop me as their agent during the sales recognition portion of the conference. Carl, being the Happiness Manager that he was, could sense dissatisfaction a mile away. 

I was too distracted by the glasses of iced clear liquid in them he carried to have noticed that he was the most boring looking man in all of history. 

“Hey, have you considered you could save those tears by bundling this drink and my phone number programmed into your phone?”

One ridiculous pickup line, and now here I am with the proportions of a snake that has swallowed a watermelon. When you’re pregnant, everyone wants to celebrate the baby in your now giant uterus. But they have no idea the amount of work I've put into getting pregnant. The number of times I’ve had to stare into the cardboard brown color that is Carl’s eyes. Or how many times I’ve realized that Carl expects a life term commitment and despite this baby in my belly I’m trying to find a way to get a term agreement instead. 

“Hey honey, are you okay with me going to say hi to the guys?” 

Eric and Ted slapped Carl on his back as they'd just closed on an epic real estate deal.

"Carl, my man! Way to go with those strong swimmers!" The winking and nodding of it all were turning my stomach sour, or maybe it was the child that Carl put inside of my body all by himself that was causing the impending lava pukes.

I push the items from the football-themed charcuterie board on my plate around. Just look at his dumb face. Smiling like the cat that caught the canary. I’d never seen my husband carry so much pride on his face in the entirety of our relationship. Carl often told people we met in public that he managed sports teams. The tiny detail he left out was that it was a fantasy football league that he managed in his spare time. One time he won his entire league division and was awarded some lame trophy in the shape of a pile of cow manure spray painted gold. Leave it to Carl to beam with pride over a pile of shit. But this takes the cake.

I know Carl has never done a kegel in his life, certainly not a kegel of the mouth as he just can’t seem to shut up. Kegels. My god, so many Kegels. Carl bought me some trendy mom magazine that said that keeping the pelvic floor in shape is part of good delivery.

Angie makes a ringing sound with a knife against the side of her wine glass. Sigh, I could go for some wine right now. A nice Riesling might cancel out the depressing flavor of these god-awful touchdown tapenades. 

“If I could have everyone’s attention please.”

Ugh, Angie doesn’t have a droplet of perspiration on her. Doesn’t she know this is my day, not hers?

“We’re all here today because Carl thought condoms were sufficient insurance for his future.”

Eric and Ted laughed so hard that their IPA’s sloshed over onto their clunky New Balance sneakers. 

“Way to go Carl!!! You managed the hell outta Raquel’s happiness you dog, you.” 

It’s too bad that this baby shower bingo card I have in front of me can’t be stamped every time I feel disgusted by the male existence. A blacked-out bingo card counts for a bigger prize I think. An all-expenses-paid trip for two to anywhere but here, with anyone that isn’t Carl.

“I propose a toast to Baby Carl Jr., may you show your mother’s pelvic floor some grace!”

The men take long pulls from their beers as Eric finds his way next to Angie. I gag a little as a whiff of cured meats and the aroma of Eric’s vape pen passes by me. 

“When Carl told me he met a woman named Raquel I immediately knew she had to be a smoke show.” Pausing mid-speech to take a drag from his vape, Eric points at Carl with his bottle. The smoke attacked my nostrils causing me to lean over and vomit up the bile of the end zone I just ate.

 “I asked him if he got a quote from her before he gave her his number. When he told me he knocked her up I asked how high the life insurance policy on her was worth? Congratulations Carl, you’re gonna be a dad!”

Rage and irritability rush through my veins. This is a freaking baby shower, why are all of these men spouting off at the mouth? Like some sort of invite from his best friend, Carl joins Eric at the front table with all of the gifts. Carl slaps Eric on the shoulder pulling him in tightly for a bro hug, and for one small second, I see a tiny tear leak out of Carl’s boring cardboard eyes. 

“Thanks, Eric! I was starting to think I’d never get us pregnant, but like everything else that I put my energy into, closing the deal is one of my stronger suits.”

I toss my plate to the side and growl out a shriek of exasperation. The rage has found its way from my veins out into the co-ed baby shower for all to hear. 

“I’ve had enough. All of you. I didn't have the heart to tell you this earlier but here it comes.”

I mop my forehead with the napkin that I held twisted in my hand like it was one of these men’s necks. 

“Carl. Eric. Ted. You need to know that it takes one out of a million swimmers to get part of the job done. Just one.” I emphasize my stomach with both hands.

“It doesn't take much to hit paydirt when you throw all three darts at the board. Not a sure thing, but you gotta like your odds. Eric and Ted, you’re acting like Carl's sperm were just down here in my baby box with a destination in mind. Olympic speedos on, doing the breaststroke like Michael Phelps making his way through Vaginaville to go gold. You guys seem to forget none of you would be here without a good breaststroke, to begin with.”

I have everyone’s attention now, me and this giant baby belly. Carl’s mouth is agape, shocked at my tirade but as usual, he has very little to say of interest to me. 

“Carl, if you had been timed in the making of this baby you certainly would have qualified. Record speeds my guy. We’re talking a tenth of a second off the world record.”

Carl’s face has turned a bit red with what I can only assume is a bit of anger at my honesty. 

“Honey, are you feeling okay? Maybe we should have you sit down inside and get you cooled off, it’s awfully hot out here.” Carl tries to grab my elbow and I sidestep his goal of shoving the estrogen back into the bottle from whence it came. 

“Oh Carl, I’ll feel better after I get all of this off of my chest. Because if I have to hear another one of you fantasy football meatheads talk about how your strong swimmers are the reason I’m pregnant with your namesake, I’ll burn this whole baby shower down. Football topiaries and all.” 

“Your strong swimmers aren’t that strong. They are no Ian Thorpe or, East German Olympic swim team. None of you have complimented me on my ovary and egg game. I laid with my pelvis tilted at a 60* angle to help your wimpy swimmers who showed up with floaties on for almost twenty minutes!”

All eyes are on me, and I can’t think of a better place to be than at home away from this man who thinks he’s solely responsible for this entire pregnancy.

“While we’re on the subject, Carl Jr. is the stupidest damn name we could give this kid. I’m going to name him Gilligan and you had better hope you have burial insurance Carl because I’ll throttle you if you think otherwise.”

Carl looks at me like I’m some kind of pregnant stranger that’s removed his partner’s soul from her body. I assure him with the gritting of my teeth that I am beyond serious. I’ve decided that it’s time for me to go home and enjoy the comforts of the house that has air conditioning.

In front of Angie, Eric, Ted, and so many others I thrash my way out of my pants that have sealed to my drenched legs. I toss them at Carl’s dumb face and grab Eric’s beer from his hand and take a giant swig before I make my way to the car. Without my pants, the floor vents will be waiting for me, and I would rather ice out my lady parts than talk about Carl’s swimmers taking another freestyle through them again. 

I hand Eric his empty beer back. “This beer tastes like a third place in a two-man heat.”

I overhear Eric grumbling as I push one of the topiaries over before I leave. 

“Well, that was dramatic. She took my last bottle of homebrew Carl.”

December 11, 2021 03:37

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20 comments

Rachel Smith
08:48 Dec 27, 2021

This was great. Boring cardboard eyes! I was pregnant over a hot summer so I felt her pain! I wore tent style dresses the entire time. Urgh, men and their 'strong swimmers' hahaha

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Shea West
15:41 Dec 27, 2021

I needed to write this 🤣🤣🤣 I recall getting so many poor comments about my body while pregnant and my husband being lauded with compliments.

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Kevin Broccoli
19:50 Dec 16, 2021

Shea, I am such a huge fan of yours. This was just spectacular. I wish I could give more constructive feedback, but it's just tens across the board.

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Shea West
21:05 Dec 16, 2021

Um, ok I'll just fangirl out over here with that compliment😍😍 I just listened to your episode on Read Lots, Write Lots and it was great!!! Thank you for reading!

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Deon Voltz
01:08 Dec 14, 2021

Loved It and all the burns 🔥 I also know someone with boring cardboard eyes lol

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Beth Connor
20:42 Dec 12, 2021

I couldn’t stop laughing. This is true Shea gold! Love the title.

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Shea West
21:34 Dec 12, 2021

My husband says I'm ridiculous... But I digress 🤣🤣

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Daniel Hayes
06:55 Dec 12, 2021

OMG!! Shea... I loved this. The humor was fantastic and I found myself laughing out loud. I loved how you captured the spirit of being pregnant and crafting a story around that. I think you nailed the guys very well, and this was very well written! I truly loved this one! Great job as always!! :) :)

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Shea West
06:59 Dec 12, 2021

It's hard work going for Gold in Vaginaville🤷🤷😂😂😂😂 Thanks for your continued enthusiasm as always Daniel!

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Daniel Hayes
07:22 Dec 12, 2021

Hahahaha!!! I love it!!! :) :)

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Palak Shah
17:29 Dec 11, 2021

I love the story and the humor that it has. Could you please read my latest story if possible? :)) Thanks :))

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Shea West
21:29 Dec 11, 2021

Thank you Palak, I'll make my way over there.

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Palak Shah
21:32 Dec 11, 2021

Thanks Shea :))

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Scott Skinner
14:52 Dec 11, 2021

Wow, she lost it at the end. The story was written with such a strong sense of humor that I was laughing as I finished it, but if you take the humor out I'm wondering if I should be concerned that she took it there and then slammed a beer lol This was really fun to read. I honesty laughed aloud a couple of times. The loudest came after reading this, "If I had my way everyone would drop the damn gifts off on my porch. I’d wave at them from behind the window in my living room where the lower part of my body would hover over the air conditioni...

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Shea West
17:03 Dec 11, 2021

There are so many rules in pregnancy, and losing it doesn't seem to be socially acceptable 🤣🤣 it should be though, because what happens to the body during pregnancy is bananas. And a swig of beer is probably fine if they say a few ounces of wine is🤣🤣 Glad you found the humor in it. Freaking Carl!

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A.Dot Ram
04:08 Dec 11, 2021

Classic Shea stuff here! I giggled my way through. Carl Jr??! I need to come on here more often. I've missed your voice.

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Shea West
04:13 Dec 11, 2021

Ahhh! I've missed yours too, when I saw you had a new story I was stoked. Cannot wait to read. Can you imagine taking a baby named Carl Jr., Seriously?? This was kind of a sassy piece I'll admit 🤣🤣🤣

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A.Dot Ram
04:27 Dec 11, 2021

It's been tough since school started, and I'm driving everywhere all the time. But a good theater prompt is worth staying up till 1am and sticking the kids in front of the tv for a while.

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Shea West
05:15 Dec 11, 2021

2 of my 3 had the Covid so we're fresh outta their quarantine. So I feel you on the TV front😵‍💫😵‍💫

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A.Dot Ram
06:12 Dec 11, 2021

Oof. No wonder your story this week is sassy!

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