Slices, not Cubes

All good things must come to an end. I made it 52 years, 3 months, 2 weeks and 2 days on planet Earth without attending a baby shower.

The streak came to an inglorious end last weekend.

I had plenty of pre-shower responsibilities. While my wife was in Oklahoma City at the NCAA basketball tournament with two bff's (what's wrong with this picture?) my instructions were to "make" the meatballs and build a cheese tray with an assortment of "good" cheese.

In cubes.

Here's my recipe for "making" the meatballs.

1. Dump two bags frozen meatballs into crockpot.
2. Add bottle of barbecue sauce and orange marmalade (just eyeball it).
3. Stir.
4. Turn on crock pot.
5. Get back in front of TV.

The admonition to select "good" cheese was obviously grounded in a full-on awareness on her part of my proclivities toward cheese. I've been known to power through an entire can of aerosol American in one sitting. Yum.

One man's "good" is another man's "better."

Clearly, the situation screamed service provider/product vendor. I needed a pro. The high school girl behind the deli counter at HyVee.

Turns out there's a slick, glossy pamphlet offering a host of options for various and assorted lunchmeat, fruit, veggie, and/or cheese trays in all their possible permutations and combinations. I seized immediately on one labeled "formaggio."

The photo depicted all manner of cheese expertly and artistically arranged in concentric circles emanating from a colorful collection of fruit in the center. How can this beautiful creation be anything other than "good?"

But it was sliced, not cubed.

Yikes. Had I pulled the trigger too early?

"Any chance I could get that cheese in cubes?"

The look on Deli Girl's face was somewhere between, "I just knew this guy was gonna be a gold-plated pain in my ass" and "But they keep telling us friendly customer service is what will separate us in the marketplace from those ingrates at Dillons."

"Uh..." she said, smiling, mentally prioritizing her options. I really need this job. Only 400 more bucks and I can swing that awesome skankola prom dress.

"Don't sweat it," I said. "Let's go with the slices." I was a teenager once. I remember the angst.

Home from a Wildcat victory in OKC, my wife informs me we'll be traveling separately to the shower. As a vital and contributing member of the Shower Planning Committee, among her duties/expectations, I learn, is pre-event preparation.

"Set the cheese tray on the counter, plug in the crock pot, commence shmoozing. How long can it take?"

The look.

Since I'd never actually been to a baby shower, I was swimming in uncharted waters. Steeling myself for the worst, i.e., "Guess Mommy's Tummy Size" or "Pin the Sperm on the Egg," I dutifully loaded up the cheese tray and crock pot and off she went. I was to follow in about an hour.

Once on site, I got a rough outline of the drill from a fellow shower neophyte:

Food. Baby-themed loot. More food. Seeya.

After snaking through the chow line, guests move to a circle. The parents-to-be, let's call them Sharon and Kevin (since those're their names) seated at the top. Do circles have tops?

Food is served on little rectangular-shaped glass plates. Lemonade in little glass cups with dinky handles you can't get your fingers through. One ice cube per cup, btw.

Gulp. Gulp. Gone.

"Oh, but you can get some more lemonade," my wife leaned over and whispered. "Go help yourself." Like I'm gonna violate the sanctity of the shower circle, squeeze between two other guests precariously balancing their little rectangular glass plates in their laps (with their own little glass cups). Really don't wanna be that guy.

Factoring a quick and dirty cost/benefit analysis, I pushed my luck. "If I go back," I whispered, "Whaddaya think'd happen if I rooted around in there for a normal sized cup?"

The look.

I stayed put.

The parents-to-be opened each gift, offered the perfunctory oohs and aahs over thoughtfully-selected gender-neutral baby duds, (those're hard to find any more, I learned. who knew?) diaper rash grease and toys, that if played with properly, will ensure the kid doesn't grow up to be a gangsta.

The shower was hosted by some other friends, who were gracious enough to open their home for the festivities.

You're a better man than I, Gunga Din.

I was right on one count, though. No one noticed the cheese was not cubed.