My writer bug started fluttering over the weekend. I threw my best friend a baby shower, and just experiencing the interactions of small-town southern women at the event was enough to do it. My friend, like myself is an Asheville, NC native. She now lives about an hour and a half down the road in the metropolis that is Lincolnton, North Carolina. Outside of the Tar Heel State I’m sure no one has heard of it, (though I do recommend seeing the charming little colonial courthouse there).
Lincolnton is a tight knit town full of old money, and old families. Everyone’s Daddy knew everyone else’s Daddy, and what town he was responsible for building. I believe I was dining on the Lincolnton shower staple, pickle rolls, amongst the elders of Cherryville as well, but I wouldn’t swear it. They are all very delightful though, and I look forward to my trips there. But, just like women in Asheville; natives are natives. I know I’m from outside, even if it’s only a couple counties.
The shower started at 2:30, and I began seeing short women with tall hair and Mary Kay rouge start to roll in at about 2:35. Nobody would dare arrive on the dot, nor be considered late. I was nervous about the blue punch I’d made. I’d found the recipe on Pinterest, which is normally a guaranteed show stopper, but I was in the company of women with Southern Living Subscriptions. I know how they are. I blushingly admit, I am by nature, a bit of one of them myself.
They swept in and glanced at the food table, delighted to see the blue and white argyle cake we had not scrimped on, reigning over the pickle rolls and pimento cheese sandwiches. They remarked on the gorgeous invitations that were sent out, and the beautiful eyelet white dress the Mother-to-be was sporting (after I dragged her kicking and screaming out of the black dress she’d chosen).
I held my breath when they got to the punch bowl. I’m younger than most of these women; maybe Mama’s punch recipe didn’t include blue Kool-Aid.
“Well isn’t that different…how cute,” one woman said.
“It’s a bit frothy…” said another.
I thought back to putting in one extra scoop of ice cream.
The mother-in-law put me to ease, “Look at those cute rubber duckies…looks like they’re swimmin’,” she accepts a glass from me, tastes it, and shows delight. Since she is respected in the small community, I am soon out of glasses. I can breathe a moment.
I see my friends come through the front door. I notice one friend had a plethora of gifts in her hand, and I question if I did enough in my mind. I am jealous of my other friend’s cowboy boots. I hope no one thinks I look fat in my dress, and that my Spanx aren’t showing. I fidget with my new blue dress a minute, and arrange my bubble necklace. Strangely, I’m relieved in spite of all the anxiety.
My pregnant friend whom the party was thrown for makes her way to the punch bowl with my other two friends. We stand there unknowingly segregating ourselves like we had since middle school, which gets closer and closer to being twenty years ago. We make our observations about everyone: whose dress looks nice, who made that gorgeous basket, who still has their summer tan, and who is a potential cause of stress. I notice one of my friends gets her own punch, drinks it, and refills her glass. She enjoys the punch, not knowing it’s a source of stress for me. She’s insecure about other things. Will my child tear into the gifts, or disrobe in front of everyone as she has been known to do once or twice? My pregnant friend hopes her house is clean enough and no one sees the dog toy lying in the floor. My cowboy boots and sundress friend still wonders how she is looking after having her baby last year. We’re all worrying, but not about anything anyone else thinks we are. We are all worrying about our own insecurities, no one elses. Yet, the fun isn’t fake, In spite of the naggings, we’re legitimately having a good time. We come up with enough sassy comments to put anything to rest.