Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Off Season Post 31: Conspiracies Abound

Hello, Readers.  Welcome to the 31st (can you believe that?) installment of my Off Season Posts.  It’s been an eventful weekend filled with activities on both ends of the imaginary life spectrum.  I spent a couple of nights down at the Austin Rodeo and Livestock Show swilling beer, watching bull riding, and devouring giant turkey legs, cotton candy, and various other examples of the wonderfully decadent items known as “festival food.”  I’m sure all of you have a version of this wherever you’re from. 

The latter part of the weekend involved an attempt to run off all of that delicious festival food with 23,000 of my closest friends in the 35th Annual Capitol 10,000 run through Downtown Austin.  It’s 6.2 miles through Austin and, while it didn’t feel like it, I actually did very well (I finished in 955th place out of 23,000).  A shout out goes to my friend Linnea who finished a mere 15 seconds or so behind me despite having considerably shorter legs.  I’m happy to call that a tie, but we all know who crossed the finish line first.  I’m just saying.  I’m a bit sore today, but happy with my results.  I doubt I burned off all of that carnival cuisine, but perhaps that giant turkey leg is a thing of the past.  Now, let’s get to this week’s post.

As busy as my weekend was, I still had time to contemplate my next post, but as is usually the case in the Off Season, I was a bit short on a cohesive idea.  As I left the race on Sunday the inevitable tightening of my legs began to occur on the ride home.  I decided that I needed to stop off at the local pharmacy for some Advil and a giant bottle of water.  As I gingerly limped in and made my way to the pharmacy I found myself standing behind two women in line, one of whom was extremely pregnant.  I realize that last characterization makes no sense.  Being a tad pregnant is like being a bit gay, but you get the picture.  She wasn’t as big and bloated as Mama Cass, but she looked ready to burst at any second.  I took a step back as an extra precaution. 

Ahead of them in line was an old woman I assumed to be Mary Todd Lincoln or perhaps one of her childhood friends.  Her prescription was probably delivered via Pony Express.  As the pharmacist struggled to explain the benefits and risks of the half dozen or so bottles of pills in front of her I zoned out in favor of the conversation taking place between the knocked up lady and her sidekick.  “Is Steve going to get you a push present?” I heard.  “I’m not sure,” she answered.  “You know she’s our second so we’re just having a ‘sprinkle’ instead of a shower so I don’t think Steve is going to do much this time,” was the response.

“Push Present?” “Sprinkle?” 

“Poor Steve,” I thought as I pulled out my iPhone and added a note to self.  “Google ‘push present’ and ‘sprinkle.’ Love, Yourself  P.S. You’re awesome.” 

As I sat there in my truck sipping my giant bottle of spring water I Googled the aforementioned foreign terms.  Here’s what I found.    

“Baby Sprinkle.  Simpler and often smaller than the original Shower, a Sprinkle is an often more intimate gathering for very close friends and family. The gifts tend to be new outfits, diapers, wipes, etc. instead of big gifts like cribs and bedding that can be recycled from the first child.  It also includes some gifts for the older sibling to make them feel special. The food and decorations are kept to a minimum, but are enough to still make sure that the party makes the mom-to-be feel special.”

Well, isn’t that “special,” I thought shaking my head in disbelief.  All I know is that every time I’m invited to a shower of some sort, I end up taking a bath on the gift.  Normally, I like to keep those things in check.  Somehow I always end up writing a check.

Attempting to gussy it up and downplay my financial obligation by renaming it and eliminating the big stuff that only grandma and grandpa would buy in the first place from the registry is not fooling anyone.  If anything, the “more intimate” nature of the thing arguably expands my financial obligation.  A rose by any other name is a rose.  So is theft for that matter.  What’s it called when the third kid comes along, a Mist?  By the time the fourth kid gets here we’ll be attending A Mild Perspiration.    

Next term.    

“Push Present.  (also known as a "push gift" or "baby bauble") is a present a new father gives a new mother when she gives birth to their child. In practice the present may be given before or after the birth, or even in the delivery room. The giving of push presents has supposedly grown in the United States in recent years.”

“Supposedly grown?”  Nice fact checking.  Look, I’ll be the first guy to admit that I will never be able to understand what it’s like to grow a human being inside of my body until it’s too big to be there and then push it out the wrong way down a canal 1/3 its size.  Just typing that makes the place where my uterus would be if I had one hurt. 

However, I’m not biologically capable of doing that either, so you’ll have to cut me some slack.  That shouldn’t add up to making me spend a ton of cash as a result of billions of years of evolution.  I didn’t invent the cycle of life so why in the hell should I have to get gouged by some greedy jeweler who invented the Push Present?  That’s like requiring me to give the pizza guy a month’s pay for delivering a pizza I called and ordered.  It all seems a bit unfair to me.    

And while I’m thinking about it, where’s my Push Present?  After all, if it wasn’t for me pushing it in nine months ago you wouldn’t be pushing it out now.  Gestation aside, it takes two to tango and I didn’t get to take 4 months off work and hang around in my pajamas when I was done pushing.  Where’s the justice?  Annnyyyhooo . . .     

Dumbfounded, I began contemplating other invented traditions invented in order to make women feel “special.”  In search of some material, I consulted three reliable sources with intimate knowledge about subjects of this nature: 

Lincee Ray at (

Mary Pruitt at (, and

My Special Lady Friend who has no website but has plenty of fertile friends who end up knocked up on a regular basis.  She’s also from Dallas; a place where letter press invitations and save the date cards (two other ridiculous, money wasting requirements for any event these days) go out for weekly office happy hours and trips to the water cooler on break time.    

After all of my reliable sources confirmed knowing about Push Presents and Sprinkles I picked their female brains for more conspiracies invented for the sole purpose of coercing unsuspecting men and well meaning women who fear being judged to spend inordinate amounts of money in the name of keeping the Special Ladies in their lives happy.  Here’s what I learned.

Birth Photographer.  Most hospitals these days will not allow a birth to be filmed thanks to my day profession.  However, it is becoming more common for pregnant women to get portraits of themselves in various states of undress during the course of the pregnancy.   I’m guessing these aren’t cheap.  In addition to that, it’s now also common to get professional portraits made immediately after the birth. 

Look, pregnancy is a miracle.  It’s beautiful, magical, special, blah, blah, blah.  I understand that.  However, pregnant women are a lot like finger paintings made by small children.  They’re only beautiful if they’re your own.  Call me after your shower or sprinkle or whatever and I’ll come visit.  I’m not interested in a pictorial representation of your biological changes.  Just because Demi Moore does it doesn’t make it cool.  If that were true we’d all starve ourselves while killing 15 Red Bulls a day and marry a younger douchebag.    If I want to watch a woman gain a ton of weight over a short period of time, I’ll turn on Oprah reruns.  Oh, and for what it’s worth, I think I speak for all men when I say that I’d rather have some professional footage of the conception rather than the birth.   Next topic.   

Meet-A-Versary.  This is apparently a relatively new member to the conspiracy calendar.  It imposes an obligation upon the man to document the date when he met his special lady in addition to buying her a gift in order to commemorate it down the road.  Give. Me. A. Break.  Upon hearing about this one, I actually got excited until I was told that it was “Meet” and not “Meat.”

What most women don’t know is that every florist in the world is painfully aware of days like this in addition to being ready to gouge poor, defenseless men into paying exorbitant prices for dying flowers.  You can put them in your favorite vase with warm water and that white crystal stuff they come with, but eventually that water will turn to green slime and those flowers will die.  

Oh, and telling your boyfriend or husband, “I know roses are too expensive, just get me my favorite flower, the (insert name of rare, more expensive flower here).”  Unless your favorite flower happens to be the carnation, we’re still on the hook.  Dropping a hundred bucks on something we literally have to watch wilt away and die is not a happy event.  Come to think of it, that actually might be an accurate representation of most relationships.     

Action Stations.  This is apparently a new phenomenon at weddings, showers, and other fancy events.  Rather than a seated dinner or a buffet there are smaller stations in various parts of the room with different, albeit smaller, courses.  The idea is to spread the guests around the venue and make the lines shorter.  Well, that’s what they tell you anyway.  The idea is actually to up sell you 5 different courses at a higher price in addition to forcing your guests to stand around the room with a drink in one hand and a tiny plate loaded with crab cakes, deviled eggs, and prime rib in the other desperately trying to figure out how in the hell to eat it.   I actually got excited about this one too until I figured out what it was.  I was planning on having a couple of Action Stations at my Meat-a-versary, if you know what I mean.     

“Hosted by.”  This is a big deal among women and it’s something that I, as a rational thinking male, can never comprehend.  However, because I care about all of you, I’ll try and elaborate.    Apparently, getting one’s name on the aforementioned letterpress invitation next to the words “hosted by” is a huge deal for some women and a prohibitively expensive, royal pain in the ass for others. 

It’s safe to say that the woman listed first on the invite as a co-hostess is hated with an unmatched passion by the women’s names following hers.  For the past few months she’s evolved like a gestating fetus (see what I did there?) from a smiley, friendly, helpful team player into a money grubbing, tax and spend, control freak with the disposition of Napoleon Bonaparte.  The women after her on the letterpress invite have been brow beaten with every detail of whatever party is set to occur from where it will occur, what they will be wearing, how their hair should look, and what to bring.  The pain each woman feels is directly proportionate to her rank from right to left on the “hosted by” list.  Trust me, the last girl on that list regrets ever befriending the guest of honor during rush at the Kappa house in college or whatever. 

Man, I’m glad I’m a man.  By way of example, I’m headed to Vegas next month with 5 of my closest friends.  I sent 1 email and got 4 back with flight information.  I sent another email after booking the hotel and got 4 back saying we’d even up on the cost when they arrived in Vegas.  Letterpress invites, my ass.     

Well, there it is.  This week’s off season rant.  I’m sure you’ll all chime in with your own conspiracies and I’d love to hear them.  Over the top engagements, destination bachelorette parties that cost a ton, upgrading the engagement and wedding ring, and ridiculous milestone birthday parties are others I didn’t get to.  I’m curious to hear what y’all have to say.  Until then, have a great week.  In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be working on the letterpress save the date invites to my Meat-a-versary.   DP 


  1. I don't understand some of these things either. My best friend just had her second baby and didn't have a 'sprinkle'. As for the push present... I think some women will use any excuse to get stuff. I may think differently than most women since I have been working with men for almost 10 years. The parties I've been to where the wives/girlfriends are also there I usually end up hanging with the guys. Like I said, I guess I'm different. Good post!

  2. Nice work, Kelly. It's good to know you're out there. DP

  3. This may be just me, but I always taught that a woman's "push present" is her baby.

    I think push presents were invented by women who, like Kelly said, will use any excuse in the world to get some most likely gaudy piece of jewelry so they can show it off to all of their girlfriends as an example of "just how much her husband loves her."

    I just think Sprinkle is a ridiculous term. Every time I even see that word in reference to what you're talking about, I can't help but imagine it being said in a really preppy, Beverly Hills, country-club-queen type voice.

  4. DP, I am supremely jealous of you for being a guy. Be a dear, and hear me out.

    I am helping to host a baby shower this weekend with 5 other girls. My inbox has been EXPLODING recently with information about the shower, so for sh*ts and giggles I decided to count the total number of emails I have received about the shower. I had to use a calculator. Are you sitting down? 443. Four. Hundred. Forty. Effing. Three.

    is it any wonder I have had a migraine for the past 2 weeks???

    I am the lucky one who is listed last on the invitation. I will, however, be the first to hit the mimosa bar and accordingly, probably the only one to pass out face-first onto the 6-tier diaper cake.

    Say a prayer for me on Saturday.

  5. I forgot to add...tonight is group shopping for the shower. Tomorrow night is group CRAFTING for the shower (we all know a 6-tier diaper cake ain't gonna build itself!!!). Early Saturday morning is group cooking / prepping for the shower.

    Be jealous. Be VERY jealous.

  6. Group shopping? Group crafting? Good Lord. The up side is that mimosas will kill your migraine. DP

  7. Action station at your meat-a-versary :)
    Also, great point on the pregnancy pics, along with the Demi and Oprah references!

  8. OMG, freakin hillarious! I am hosting a baby shower for my friends 3rd child, yes a shower due to the fact that it has been 10 years since her last child, needless to say she & her husband aren't prepared. Anyhow, I am listed first on the invitation so therefore (and at the mom's request) this shower will start at 4:00pm & go to ???. It will consist of many drinking games, deep pit bbq & shot glasses as as party favors. I will make a diaper cake thingy but it will have skulls & guitars all over it. My house will be transformed into a giant crash pad for 50 or so of our closest friends & this baby will know he is very loved before he is born!

    Also, the only "push present" I would have liked after my kids were born was a day to sleep!

    Milestone birthdays are stupid, which reminds me I have to book a ticket to the east coast for my brother's 40th in August & arrange the time off work...uggghhh

    As always thanks for your thoughts

  9. DP, Thanks for enlightening me in such an entertaining fashion this week, though it is slightly embarrassing that Some Guy knows more about these topics than This Gal.

    Push Presents? Seriously? Do women who deliver by C-section get Pull Presents? And Sprinkle sounds like the sexual fantasy of one of Carrie Bradshaw's guys on Sex and the City.

  10. I have never heard of a "sprinkle"...the terms sounds any rate, I have hosted a "sip n see" for 2nd and 3rd kids. It Is more of a baby open house. Come by during a two hour window, see the baby , drop off a practical gift like diapers, grab some tea and apps, and mingle your way on out. No stupid baby games, just easy. Stay longer if you wish but it's low stress for all involved. No push presents required. I haven't heard of push presents either, but immediately knew it was a gift required of a man via means of asking the to be dad "so are you going to get me a push present?". .. With him asking what it was and then resenting the expectation. It's manipulative in my humble opinion which is not a way to endear yourself to your man.

  11. Ok, so I agree the sprinkle, the 40 hostesses, the meetaversary, all silly. But, when my first kid came, hubby gave me a fancy mixer to herald the beginning of my career as a homemaker. I did not ask for it or expect it--11 years ago, I don't think the push present was yet in fashion--and I loved it. When the second kid came, I was wise to the scheme and asked for a small ring. Which I also love. Both things are tangible reminders, not just of the kid being born but of the place we were at in our lives. So while I can see tne idea of a push present being sneered at, I wouldn't want to give mine back.

  12. Melanie, Just so we're clear, I think you hit the nail on the head with respect to what I was trying to communicate. Gifts should be exactly that: genuine reflections of affection and non-obligatory things that convey a sentiment beyond their material value. I'm taking a shot at the fact that these formerly simple displays of appreciation and affection have been turned into competitive one upsmanship relieving them of sentiment and sincerity. I'm glad you like your gifts and I'm happy you're happy. DP

  13. I never got a push present for the birth of my two daughters. Hmm, that should have been an indication that my husband would divorce me 23 years later. Now he is "pushing" is new wife, younger wife. LASS

  14. Girl can be awful, and I'm allowed to say that because I'm a girl. Sure, having a baby is hard work, and I'm terrified of the day I will have to push out my own canteloupe-headed rugrat, but there is just so much unnecessary pomp and circumstance and so many ridiculous expectations regarding the whole thing. A push present? A sprinkle? Blech. And the expectations put on the lucky "hostesses" are through the roof. I've not yet hosted a baby shower (or sprinkle, God forbid) but had to fork out $300 for my share of my cousin's bridal shower last year, a shower which I had no part in planning and was just expected to show up to, cash in hand, in addition to chipping in for a group gift and making a few scrapbook pages.

    And don't get me started on upgrading wedding and engagement rings. Those rings have sentimental value and should be the rings that sit on your hand with pride for the rest of your life, not just until hubby makes enough money to spring for a bigger diamond.

  15. Great post this week, DP! I've never heard of any of these terms that you mentioned, but your explanation and opinions had me cracking up nonetheless. My favorite line was:

    "I’d rather have some professional footage of the conception rather than the birth"

    It seems like we, as a society, have done a full 180. When I was born, most men had no involvment in the birth of their child, smoked cigars at bars during the birth and offered little to no assistance to their wives once they got home from the hospital. I found that just as ridiculous as I do when I hear about women now days wanting to be rewarded with gifts for giving birth to their children. I was happy to stay home from work the first week, stay up late at night for the first few months and when I was not at work tried to assist my wife in every way possible with our new baby. I probaby even gave her a few gifts without even thinking about it at the time. However, purchasing a gift for my wife with a specific name attached to it like "push present" would have completely taken away from any intimacy that was felt between us at the time.

    I thought Mallory said it best, " I always taught that a woman's "push present" is her baby."

    With that said, I also thought Melanie made a good point when she mentioned that, Both presents are tangible reminders, not just of the kid being born but of the place we were at in our lives. Melanie's first gift was unsolicited and the small ring with the second child was probably well deserved. I find nothing wrong with either of those gifts.

    It sounds like everyone on that has commented thus far is pretty much on the same page and probably agrees with DP to a great extent. The women that I feel sorry for are the ones that expect either trendy or elaborate gifts to measure the strength of their relationships or to raise their self esteem. I would hope that my own wife and daughter appreciate the little things that I do for them more than the gifts they receive from me on Christmas, birthdays and a few other significant dates throughout the year.

    I know everybody's different, so this is just my 2 cents.


  16. Thanks Some Guy and MH for your comments. I'm glad we agree that there is a difference between a gift commemorating a memorable milestone in a relationship, and the entitlement some women feel for doing something women have done since Adam and Eve. BTW, Some Guy! I appreciated your recent post on boot buying. I recently moved from the Midwest to Dallas, and the information will be helpful when I decide to splurge on my first pair. As I'm learning to appreciate the local flavor, your observations on Dallas culture are pretty funny, too. Keep up the good work!

  17. Wow,I feel so out of the loop! I had never heard of a "Sprinkle" or a "Push present". Way too ridiculous if you ask me.

    Great blog!

  18. DP- WOW, a sprinkle? That's pretty cringe-worthy. I wasn't even excited about MY baby shower. I made my friends swear up and down that they wouldn't make us play any tacky games and for the most part, it was pretty mellow. However, I dread going to baby showers and usually bargain with the mom-to-be by taking her to lunch or a movie and giving her a gift so that I don't have to go to the party.

    As far as the push gift, that's a funny story- a Tiffany store had just opened up near us when I was about 6 months pregnant, and we went in to check it out one day. A salesman asked me if we were shopping for a "push gift" and I replied, "A WHAT?!?". When he described what it was, I burst out laughing and told him no thanks, I'm not a high-maintenance kind of girl (what I meant was pretentious bitch). However, my very sweet significant other took note and shortly before our daughter was born, presented me with a beautiful diamond necklace (NOT from Tiffany) and said it was a birthday/push gift. It was a sweet sentiment, but totally not necessary.

  19. @Jessica- I totally agree about the ring thing, but I have a small dilemna. My engagement ring is a beautiful 3-stone ring (small, not 1 carat in each stone or anything crazy) with tiny diamonds along the band. I love it- it's delicate, simple, and romantic, especially because the center diamond was his grandmother's, then his mom wore it for 30 years. I'm told I should pass it down when our kids get married!?!?! What the heck? I don't want to upgrade. He's even said he'll buy me a fancy bling bling ring when it's time to pass it down but I'm like, "HELLO! This is MY ring until I die!!!" My mom was appalled at the idea too, lol! I might feel differently when it's time for my kids to marry, and the actual wedding band won't be changed, but right now, I don't want to give it up!

  20. Oh DP, I could not agree more with you on this one and I am female. Granted my husband has only bought me flowers three times in the past 17 years; when he proposed and when I had "our" two children. So I guess he qualifies as giving flowers and push present??? Whatever! Please do not waste money on dying flowers, buy me a lilac bush that I can have flowers all spring/summer.
    My friend just shared her horrid Bachelorette party with me. After spending tons of money on hotel, drinks, clubs the bride-to-be got mad at all the girls and now NONE of them are in the wedding. Hello, what are they going to do with a bridesmaid dress?? Thank you for sharing the petty things women do to make themselves feel better and degrade the male species. Just my opinion of course. Kim in NV

  21. I too would prefer that my husband buy me fragrant flowers and shrubs I could plant in the yard instead of cut flowers that will soon die. Besides, I always like having the opportunity to say to him, "Honey, would you like to smell my bush?"!!

  22. you should spend some time on awkward family photos site - the pregnancy photos are abound.

    as for the push presents - whatever. I just picked what I wanted - david yurman cable bracelets - for each that will be passed on to them when I kick it or am too out of my mind to notice that I am even wearing a depends let alone a bracelet. My husband was wise - he just gave me a spending limit and said have at it. That, my friend, is SMART.

  23. I think that guys should come up with a few gifts of their own A good friend of mine just got a vasectomy last month, so his wife could quit taking birth control. Surely his act of selflessness deserves some type of gift. Would we call it a "snip souvenir", "ball bonus" or maybe "removal remembrance"?

    Any thoughts on this subject, DP?


  24. Well, you never know where you're going to learn something new.
    I would first, however, like to clear up Some Guy's mistaken notion that after giving birth (which actually is more like pushing a watermelon through a drinking straw), a woman just hangs around in her pajamas for four months. The reason she's in that state is because she had to make a decision between finishing her own laundry/taking a shower or taking care of the baby/rudimentary cooking/cleaning, etc. A woman with the post-baby luxury of lounging in her jammies for any amount of time goes by Beyonce, Mariah or an equally recognizable single celeb name.
    I only knew one person back in the day who got a push present. She received a Porsche. We all thought she had merely struck the megabucks husband lottery. It never occurred to me (stupid, stupid, stupid) or any of my friends to suggest that our husbands show up at the hospital with a pricey, giftwrapped trinket.
    I would suggest that instead of spending large sums of cash (or maxing out the credit card) on push presents, birth photographers or similar items, new parents would be better advised to put that money away toward Junior's college fund. They have no clue whatsoever how fast those eighteen years will go or of the mountain of expenses they will incur in the meantime. Multiply that amount by the number of additional kids and, well, you get the picture. And it's not pretty.
    I realize that society's norms change over the years and no doubt each generation shakes its collective head in wonder over how materialistic the next generation is (I'd have given anything for a simple cupholder attached to my kids' strollers).
    I would like to add one term to your list, apparently used routinely now among young kids' mommies, that makes my skin crawl: "play date." Given the way everyday life has become so complicated, I can't begin to imagine the strategic planning parents put into getting a couple of six year olds together for an afternoon.

  25. MH - Excellent idea! I was also neutered so the the wife and I could stop worrying about the long-term health implications of BC pills. Of course it was a traumatic experience for me and I certainly deserve a 'chip-in for the snip-in' gift of some sort. I'm easy so a gift certificate to Bass Pro or Cabelas will work. Ok, it actually wasn't that bad. The most memorable part was when the very cute nurse came in with the tray of shaving utensils and gave me the news that she was going to shave me before the procedure. All I could think of was 'don't get a boner, don't get a boner....' over and over. I failed. Miserably. She actually laughed and thanked me for the involuntary extension of the dumb-stick, saying it made it easier to shave. So yeah, I deserve something for all that 'trouble'. Oh. Wait. We were taking about girls and their silliness regarding their silly parties? Sorry...

    DP - What is with the girls anyway? 15 or so of my friends also went to Vegas for March Madness and St Patrick's Day. 4 days. 2 emails. A few texts over the course of the week to find the lost strays. We survived.


  26. So late in reading this, but so worth the wait! I don't get any of that silly crap either. I had one shower, three kids. Hand-me-downs abound, so thankful for older nieces and nephews! And besides, all the clothes people bring to baby showers are for newborns, up to 9 months. which means 4 or 5 months. Push present? Ha! Sprinkle? Only when I didn't get my son's diaper closed fast enough.

    I also get annoyed with the "We're pregnant." Oh yeah??? Don't get me wrong, I LOVED pregnancy ... felt great, thought it was a very cool sensation, had wonderful deliveries, etc. But I'm also the one who had to deal with all the rough nights' sleep, joining Weight Watchers to get back in shape and dealing with a few other of the non-joyous things that happen to your bod. It's all good, though, and most of the not-so-good parts are just temporary.
    MH and SJ, your comments had me rolling too ... "snip souvenir," and now I have to ask my husband if he had an "involuntary extension" during his pre-op shave!