It would not be repectful to the reader's attention span to itemize the small
mountain of goods Maria had accumulated from her friends. The mass consisted
in part of disposable diapers, baby food, stuffed animals, rattles, bibs, sleepers,
blankets and party favor bags. The backyard was a sparkle of other props:
plates, cups, napkins, plastic forks and knives, a pinata, and a dozen sky-blue,
latex balloons proclaiming It's a Boy. The sun shot straight down on all of
this but left Maria and her friends unscathed as it were, hehind sunglasses
and beneath an umbrella jutting out of the center of a table. A newcommer
would have choked on sunscreen air, hand on knee until normal vision
was restored, but chatting comfortably after the moments required to
get on the inside and not to notice anything at all.
Chatting comfortably is almost what was going on: voices piped, yet
what was said could have been interchanged with any phrase earlier
or latter, or in another situation entirely; hands flowed and sprang,
but in the same instance one hand clenched a purse, a hand bag, or a cup.
One friend rubbed chapstic over and over upon her lip.
"This is exciting!" "Oh, I can't wait" "You must be ready for it to end as
well.""It isn't much longer." One friend would send up a phrase toward Maria,
and as it fell she would again stir her straw, check her cellphone, fix her
shades, or rub her napkin to ground the current that gives rise to such
expressions. "It went by quick though!""Yeah?""No?""Oh!""Aha, yeah."
Another bent her head to Maria's belly and rattled a party favor bag of blue
chocolate candy at it. "Oh, he can hear this!" The baby was kicking at the
commotion. "Oh yes," Maria said with half-closed lids, "the baby hears a
lot of things." Maria reclined further into her patio chair as another friend
finished a cupcake and was rubbing her hands on a napkin. "Oh, these
are cute," she sent out as one deducting a singular truth from where nothing
is more convincing. Nothing was more convincing, and it sent everyone
nodding and checking their hands again.
There's something about these paper napkins though. For one thing,
they're printed with lazer guided ink and several advances in high
resolution technology. So inexpensive has it become to manufature these
over the past few years that hundreds of square miles are churned out each day,
each with colorful paintings. An artist would dream of employment with such
machines and manufacturing processes, that shoot out one's imagination to the
world in the face of all equally. This, of course, after a board of directors determines
the image's suitability for common consumption.
"Precious, you'll soon see all of this stuff for yourself. Yes, you will!" Done with
her napkin, the friend lobbed it into a black trashbag that was reaching capacity. The
wadded paper hit the rim at such an angle that it unfolded on top of the heap.
Face in the sun, the crinkled mural was one of a baby boy in diapers smiling
with quite a bit of cupcake frosting on its mouth and bib. Above the baby was
a banner that read It's a Boy.
Sipping, munching, genuflecting, and chatting repeated and progressed. The
clanging stimulation of props declined towards the baby, and he settled his feet. The
ladies became further situated with the objects around
them and so drifted further apart, if only a little, from their own cellphones
and purses. As such they were also more at ease with one another, and the
need to fill the air with thoughts that weren't their own deminished. As a gathering
with even old, familiar friends clamors ungrounded until the prattle instills some footing,
so too another phase was beginning at Maria's babyshower. The ladies unfamiliar with the house no longer
built a facade behind every corner, but stretched out their area with a more
complete hold of the blue stucco walls and dark blue shingles surrounding
the mounds of stuff, and the dark green grass leading up to the table where they
sat. Individual items became more clear and each friend absorbed her own and played out several
ways she could use it. For the moment, conversation left. Each item made itself explicit
upon a background of sunshine, newborns, fields, and abundance, each reinforcing one another.
It was here that one friend was absorbing towards the deck, between a pile of
goodie bags and folded chairs. No context was in place to assimilate what what
becomming more and more apparent--a severed head.
Her eyes halted on it as her heart skipped and sped up. But a second later, it came to her.
"Oh my God, that is too funny!"
The other ladies darted away from their objects and followed her voice and
finger pointing to the middle of the deck, between two vague piles. There,
a severed head grew a smile, and then a cream-colored body with an arm,
leg and a diaper. Its eyes grew and stared fixedly away at nothing in
particular, facing ninety degrees left. Across its bib read Its a
Boy. For some it took longer to figure what it was, but as one got it,
influence spread through their shared atmosphere so that all got it. "What!" "No!"
"They make those?""Maria, did you get that?" "Where
did you get that!" Maria's smile grew as she nodded.
They strung the baby up on a low hanging branch from an ash tree. As one
lady walked over waving a stick, slanted rays poured over its face. The textured
paper mache illuminated and and the baby's eyes stared skyward at the source
of that light. As the lady drew nearer, a short burst of wind rattled through and
jolted the baby back as if flinching.
"So how does this work?" "Oh, it's cute though.""We gonna hit it? Ahaha."
"No, don't do that!""There's candy inside, I hear it!" Maria creaked up off her chair.
She grinned and, fatigued, said, "Oh no, don't hit it. I
thought about that but . . . I think I'll keep it. It's so cute." She pointed at
the numerous, multicolored strings hanging own from the baby's diaper. "See
those, each one take a turn and pull one--just one!""Oh, I see." I've heard
of these.""Me too, these are the new pinatas that you don't break.""Kids can
get hurt.""Strings, but that's no fun!""Yeah, but it is cute." They gathered
around. One studied the baby for a moment and, finding her string, took hold of it
and gave it a hard tug. Her fingers slipped through the strings to the gasps of
those around. "That must be the one!" Immediately, another took it upon herself
to reach it. She flung up her hands, got a firm grip, and pulled. Laughter exploded
as pale-blue packaged breathmints with It's a Boy witten on them came down by the hundreds.
The ladies screamed and giggled; the swirling things and packages and mounds also laughed,
and this shared abundance echoed far up the street.