If you have friends of childbearing age (or have ever been on Pinterest for even 5 minutes), you have probably heard of a new trend called Gender Reveal Parties. These parties are sort of like a baby shower, but the purpose of these parties are usually a grand gesture to reveal the gender of your unborn baby to friends and family. I have never had one nor have I attended one, but a good friend of mine did a few years ago. She relayed a funny story to me about the experience- spoiler alert: it wasn’t a good one. She suffers anxiety to this day over how awkward the whole thing was and, being the friend that I am, I love to make it worse by sending her anything related to gender reveal parties that I find on the internet. She always responds to these messages with a light-hearted “Thanks a lot, asshole” kind of attitude, and recently she told me if I wanted a blog idea I should talk about the gender reveal party gone bad. So- with my friend’s permission- I offer her following (hilarious, but also sort of sad) tale of the gender reveal party that she can’t get over to this very day…
My friend, whose name I’ll change to protect the innocent- let’s call her “Joan” because I’m pretty sure I don’t actually know a Joan- was invited to attend a gender reveal party by her good friend and co-worker about 4 years ago. These parties were a fairly new trend back then and Joan had no idea what a gender reveal party even entailed. The invitation instructed that guests should dress in the color of the gender they thought the baby would be; pink for girl, blue for boy. As Joan inspected the contents of her closet she realized she didn’t own a single item of clothing in pink, or even a color close to pink; Joan is just not a pink-wearing kind of chick. But she did have a light blue blouse she had owned for a long time, and she didn’t think having to hit the mall for a pink shirt she would never wear again would be at all necessary. As she donned the blue shirt she thought to herself with a chuckle, “Guess I’m going with boy for this party!” No big deal, right?
Wrong. So wrong.
Moments after Joan arrives at the party she is almost immediately approached by a woman (who she later found out was the blessed child’s paternal grandmother) who gasps when Joan removes her jacket.
“Ugh!”, the woman practically shrieks. “You think it’s going to be a boy?” She crosses her arms and frowns at Joan. “The rest of us ladies are all hoping for a girl!”, she pouts.
Indeed. As Joan surveys the room she realizes, yes, she is the only female in the room not wearing “pink for girl” attire. Even some of the men are in pink. Awkward. Joan blushes and stammers out an excuse to the annoyed woman.
“Oh, uh, sorry- I didn’t have anything pink to wear.” Joan is embarrassed. “I really don’t actually believe it’s a boy necessarily- I just wore blue….” The woman says nothing and Joan, feeling chastised, turns quickly to get away from the disappointed grandmother. She shakes it off- surely this woman is just a little crazy, no? No one actually thinks the clothing of the guests in the room can cosmically affect the gender of an unborn baby? Surely it doesn’t matter to anyone else in the room what color anyone else chose to wear. Right?
For the next hour, Joan is bombarded by other guests (most of them strangers, she only knew two people at the party) who all approach her with various versions of “Soooo…..you think it’s a boy?” Frowning, disapproving women casting judgmental, pointed looks at Joan’s offending blue blouse, because apparently it was quite anti-female to be in “boy vote” clothing. Joan had no idea before the party that wearing that shirt was some sort of anti-feminist statement, and she (as an active member of many pro-women organizations in her lifetime) was getting really annoyed. Joan is, self-admittedly, a little socially awkward by nature, so being singled out by a group of unfamiliar women who are unhappy with her “choice” of baby gender is her own personal version of hell. She tried to assure the women that she was not actively trying to influence the gender by sending any XY karmic vibes into the universe, but a few seemed to remain unconvinced. She shamefully skulked away to stand by a group of men in blue, hoping to find a little solidarity among the other “blue people”.
A guy in the group glances over at her. “Ooh hoo!” he hoots. “I bet (name of the mother-to-be) is pissed at you- she is hoping for a girl.” Laughter all around as Joan face turns ten shades of red. Who knew the dress requirements had any hidden meaning? She had mistakenly thought it was just a fun clothing option, like a costume at a Halloween party. She began to realize she should have taken this whole guessing the gender thing more seriously. Did people really give it that much thought? Even the guys at the party were all into it.
“Why do you think it’s going to be a boy?”, asked one curious man in a pink “Save the Ta-Tas” breast cancer awareness shirt. Joan sighed wearily.
“I don’t know- it’s just a guess”, she mumbled, defeated.
Why, why, why does it matter what I think the baby’s sex will be, she wanted to shout!
Turns out, many people at the party had various reasons for why they had picked one gender over the other. Everything from what sort of cravings the mother-to-be was having, to how low her baby bump hung, to various other wives tales were being discussed. Joan was floored; they had to be kidding. She could not believe how serious the other guests had taken this. Most of the “theories” were totally ridiculous anyway. One woman even shared with the Joan that, due to having intimate (very intimate) knowledge of the mother-to-be’s, ahem, menstrual cycle and the assumed date of conception (dude, why?) that she was guessing girl. The woman looked smugly proud of having this information, and Joan was tempted to clap her hands on her ears and yell “Earmuffs!”. I mean, talk about TMI- damn! Joan was more than a bit horrified to hear the details of how and when her friend got knocked up, so she just smiled and told the woman, “Well, that sounds…..scientific.” Holy hell.
At this point, Joan is pretty much over this whole event but she wanders off to find the snack table and possibly some champagne, or wine. Maybe a beer? She could really have stood a little liquid courage to take the edge off of how agonizingly uncomfortable she had become. And it is a party, so there must be some sort of mimosas or something available. She makes her way to the refreshments, still dodging people who are still relentlessly confronting her about her fashion choices (“Hey, you think it’s a boy!” On repeat.) She gazes around the spread of food and drinks but unfortunately, there were no libations to be found. She locks eyes with a friendly looking man who is standing around munching on some cheese and crackers.
“Hey,” she says brightly. “Any idea where the bar is? I could use a glass of wine right about now- liven up this party a bit!” She gives him what she hopes is a non-crazy-girl-hating smile.
The man scowls. “Umm, this party is for a baby,” he says, eyebrow raised. “There is no alcohol.” He is disapproving. Joan wants to sink through the floor. Things just aren’t getting any less humiliating for Joan at this party. She resigns herself to pouring a cup of some fruity looking punch and glumly finds a place to sit, blessedly away from the other guests.
After a few sips of the punch, Joan starts to feel funny. Her face feels warm and flushed. She excitedly thinks for a second that maybe the punch is spiked; alcohol makes her face flush. But that is not it. Her lips start to itch and swell. Realizing quickly (but not quickly enough) what is wrong, she sniffs her cup of punch. There is pineapple in the punch. Joan is slightly allergic to pineapple. Fantastic. Things have just gone from uncomfortable to downright unpleasant; she simply can’t catch a break.
She sits for a bit, hoping the itching and swelling go down, but they don’t. Currently, she is not just a girl in a detestable blue shirt; she is a girl in a detestable shirt with swollen, puffy lips that would put Kylie Jenner to shame, and she is twitching and scratching her face like a meth addict. If people were unimpressed with her before, they were going to be in full blown disgust with her now. At this point, Joan decides it’s time to bail on the party; she is not sure she can take anymore shame or humiliation. She decides to make her way over to the mother-to-be to make her excuses and get the hell outta Dodge before things get worse. But just as she almost reaches her friend, the woman who organized the party steps forward to make an announcement. It is now time to find out the gender of the baby- finally! The guests all cheer and gather around, and Joan decides to stay and find out the gender of the baby before she leaves. In fact, she is excited to find out! She just went through one of the most awkward afternoons of her life; at least now it will pay off.
The grandmothers begin handing out cake pops to all of the guests- this is how the sex of the child will be announced. Everyone is to take a bite of their cake pops at the exact same time and the color of the cake will give the answer. Pink cake for a girl, blue for a boy- you all get the format by now. “Cute!” thinks Joan, starting to have fun for the first time since arriving. This will adorable.
The mother and father of the baby are excitedly beaming at the crowd, clutching their cake pops in anticipation, arms around each other. The excitement in the room is palpable as the friend in charge starts the countdown.
“One! Two! Three! BITE!”, she exclaims. Everyone in the room happily takes a bite of their cake pops and then….
Every person in the room is staring with furrowed brows at their cake pops, chewing slowly in confusion. Why? Because the cake is chocolate. Brown chocolate. Chocolate cake pops with white frosting. No pink. No blue. Just regular ol’ cake pops.
Joan wants to sink through the floor, yet again, for the umpteenth time that day. She steals a look at her poor pregnant friend, who is staring in horror at the friend that planned the party. The father-to-be is staring miserably at the pointless hunk of cake in his hand.
“Ummm….what the hell?”, the pregnant woman quietly asks her friend. The friend who ordered the cake pops looks like she is going to cry. The mother-to-be looks like she is going to cry.
“I….I don’t know!”, the friend wails. “They were supposed to be…..pink.”
And that, dear friends, is how that poor couple found out the gender of their baby. The friend sadly handed over the sonogram pictures to the disappointed parents, and Joan decided she literally could take no more of this party. The awkwardness just reached an unbearable high; this was a disaster. The build-up of the party to the big event only made the let down of the botched reveal all the more terrible. The guests didn’t know how to react so everyone was just standing around, shooting embarrassed looks at one another. A few people tried to rally and be all like, “Hey, it’s ok! It’s a girl! Let’s all be happy!”, but the parents of baby still just looked completely crestfallen and mortified. I mean, just picture it- they made this huge deal about revealing the sex of the child in a big way and it totally flopped (after their guests spent an hour attacking each other over who was right about the gender). It made Joan feel absolutely wretched. She decides it’s time to take her blowfish lips, and her awful blue shirt, and head home. On the way out, she runs into the father-to-be’s mother once again, who takes a moment to smirk at Joan.
“Told you it was a girl“, she sniffs. “I knew you were wrong.”
More insult to injury for poor Joan.
Joan was told later that that there had been a mix-up at the bakery and the wrong cake pops had been delivered to the party. The pink colored cake pops wound up with up some other unsuspecting soul. I’m convinced they were probably sent to some poor male child’s super hero themed birthday party, and said child is probably getting bullied on a playground somewhere at this very moment due to serving girl cake to a bunch of boys.
To this day, Joan’s face gets itchy and she craves a cocktail when she thinks about the dreaded Gender Reveal Party That Went Horribly Wrong, or really any gender reveal party at all. Which is why I remind “Joan” all the time that I’m waiting for her to finally decide to have kids so I can throw her one of her own. She claims this is the reason she is never having children.