Women do not like to share little-known facts about themselves.
I learned this while helping host Kara’s baby shower last Sunday. And two days after the shower, I still can’t name the reasons for the reticence.
What I CAN say is that what seemed a good idea a month ago when invitations were mailed seemed foul by Sunday. And to my way of thinking, it wouldn’t have been at all out of place — especially as our baby shower was themed around a Christmas tree at Who-Ville — for me to yell these famous half-crazed Clark W. Griswold lines:
“Where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We’re all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We’re gonna press on, and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny f—ing Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he’s gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse.” — National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
A mere month ago I was thinking how good it would be to have a get-acquainted parlor game to help members of Kara’s five families get to know each other a little better. So I invited everyone to send me a a fun, little-known fact about themselves.
Here’s my accounting: Of the 25 guests attending, three sent their facts in on time without complaint — a dozen arrived by hook, crook and gnashing of teeth over Thanksgiving weekend — once I sent out Grinch cavalry, who looked an awful lot like me and my two daughters. Of the remaining 10, five were turned in at the shower while five didn’t participate — two guests “lost” their cards somewhere in Kara’s house and the other three — well, let’s just say I “lost” the desire for treasure hunting.
Funny thing is that by all appearances, the game appeared to be a rousing success — even the five hold-outs seemed entertained. Everyone enjoyed guessing who said what — stumping the crowd with their fun facts — and then finding out whether they were right or wrong.
And after all the prizes were handed out, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one to marvel at what had been revealed — and at WHO had been revealed. All the females crowded together in Kara’s living room were wonderfully unique and special. Kara was still talking about it this morning when I arrived at her house to paint. And knowing how much I’ve thought of each fact and the woman who revealed it, I’d be surprised to learn the revelations hadn’t lingered in other minds too.
After all, how many times do we go to a party and walk away knowing something real about a person? That this one had always wanted to be a nun, or that this one likes to travel so much she studies maps in anticipation of the places she will go. And how about this one who won a poetry contest in middle school or that one who played in the Austin Symphony or how about the one who once learned how to roll her father’s cigarettes so that he wouldn’t have to stop driving while on a family vacation.
We don’t share ourselves enough — our real and true and best selves anyway. The stakes must be too high. Maybe we play it safe to avoid being sorry. So we end up sharing forgettable things that don’t really matter, that don’t go more than skin-deep, in words that roll off of our lips on automatic-pilot, words like “Oh, I’m fine — how are you?” Here’s my confession: Sometimes after I’ve asked, I forget to listen to the answer. So maybe we need to ask risky questions to get a memorable answer.
And as I ponder it more, maybe that’s what all that moaning and groaning before hand was about — folks we’re just plain rusty at revealing a piece of their truth. We had to pry it out of them. Or maybe — and I hope I’m wrong — maybe some mistakenly believed they didn’t have anything interesting or fun about themselves to reveal. And if so, I hope they left believing something a little different about themselves. Even something little like this:
“A person’s a person no matter how small.”