Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day 209: Diaper Cakes and Frat Parties

On Day 210, I was hosting a baby shower for my friend and former college roommate, Rebecca. Sound familiar?

Well that’s because 2010 has been the year of the baby shower, so I've already included my other roommate Ashley and her baby shower and her baby Robert in the blog.

This is my other roommate, though. This is Rebecca.

All of my former roommates are having babies.

I'm writing a blog.


Besides not knowing much about babies myself, I've eagerly signed up to host baby showers for my friends. And for this one, I was looking to stretch my creative arm and try to make something crafty that I’ve seen at nearly all of the baby showers that I’ve gone to this year.

On Day 209, I attempted to make a diaper cake.

For my male audience, I’m sure you’ve checked out by now, having already read the words “baby” and “diaper.” If you stick with me, though, we’ll get to the end of the day where I attend an adult fraternity party as another thing I’ve never done before.

But for now, it's back to the diaper cake.

I said I "attempted" this diaper cake, because I wouldn’t call the effort that I put into completing this craft anything more than an attempt. And I’m going to have to blame that on Day 208. Because after experiencing the trauma and humiliation that is a bikini wax, I celebrated the experience with a My Morning Jacket concert and a very late night.

So when Day 209 rolled around and it was time to construct the diaper cake, I was feeling less than enthused about it, and far less confident that I could pull it off.

I consulted some websites, all of which had different instructions on how to do it, some using just diapers, others filling the diapers with rolled up clothes and trinkets. I needed some hands on training, though, so I pulled myself off my couch and drove to Kyle's store to seek her assistance.

Since making her first diaper cake that our friend Maribeth actually thought was a real cake, Kyle has been the resident diaper cake officiando, making them for several of our friends and several of her colleagues' friends. I joke that diaper cakes are her side job.

Ahead of going to Kyle's, I bought a jumbo box of Pampers swaddlers, small diapers made for newborns. Buying diapers is not something that I have ever done, and now having attempted that too, I'm convinced no single people should ever do. Or maybe it's just me. I found the experience to be confusing, and unnecessarily frustrating, like the baby product people are trying to screw with you.

There are far too many categories, all labeled by some weird system, that unless you have a baby yourself, you're probably not going to understand. Would it be so hard for diapers to be sized small, medium, and large? I don't understand why you can't see what the diaper looks like unless you open the entire package. And I don't understand why diapers have cheesy designs on them and why some of them are tinted blue. Why can't they all be white?

When I arrived, Kyle looked at the box of diapers that I bought. There were 64 in the package.

"Are those all the diapers you have?" Kyle said.

"Yes," I told her. "Do you think I need more?"

She nodded her head, indicating that I would. She also said that she thought I should buy generic diapers. It's cheaper, she said.

Makes sense. We went ahead and she started showing me how to roll the diapers with rubberbands. When we reached a stopping point, she made me a list, telling me what was on it and then she instructed me to go to Michael's craft store.

I soon found out that not buying enough diapers and not buying generic ones would be the least of my worries that day.

I went to Michael's, Kyle's list in hand. Actually, not in hand. I tossed it into the abyss that my purse has become and never saw it again.

I remembered what she told me I would need: rubberbands, thick decorative ribbon, a cardboard circular disc (usually used for a real cake) to set the cake on, and, if I wanted, wooden figurines for the front of the cake.

Before even attempting 365 things that I've never done before, I had a pretty good idea at the things that I'm good at and ones that I'm not. I'm not really crafty at all. So I knew that making a diaper cake wasn't going be the easiest thing for me, despite Kyle's ability to make it look easy. But with all of the things I've managed to accomplish this year (sky-diving, a polar bear plunge, speed blind dating), I didn't think that shopping at Michael's Craft Store would be the experience that would bring me to my knees.

But sure enough, I had a Category 5 meltdown.

I blame this on a lot of factors, starting first with my own state of mind. Plus I was strapped for time. Plus it's Michael's. Not exactly the kind of place for first-timers. I sincerely think, now having had this experience, that they should ban amateur crafters like myself from entering. They should have a bouncer outside that checks your craft abilities before you walk in the place.

I wandered up and down the aisles, locating the ribbon first. My indecisiveness made choosing ribbon one of the most difficult tasks ever. I chose a light pink ribbon with hot pink polka dots.

And then I wandered some more, locating some sort of wooden trinkets, all of which seemed tacky to me and not good enough for my diaper cake. I was off to try and find the cardboard cake stand when Andrew called me to talk about plans for later that night. I saw his name pop up on caller ID and I should've ignored it, but picked up the call, causing me to lose my train of thought in a store where I already felt out of place. We rehashed the previous night for several minutes when I realized I had wasted far too much time.

"Andrew, I have to go," I finally muttered hastily. I hung up quickly and tried to refocus.

I found the cardboard cake disc, but only in a package of eight. Perhaps I'd have an opportunity to make seven additional diaper cakes, but at this point, I just wanted one. I bought the 8-pack. I had no choice.

I continued looking for the wooden figurines, not ready to give up on that idea. I started sweating though, holding a pink dragonfly in the palm of my hand and then putting it back. And then picking it up. And then putting it back.

I finally took the ribbon and the cardboard cake discs to the checkout counter and left.

When I returned to Kyle, she admitted she was a little concerned about my whereabouts. I told her I'm not cut out for places like Michael's and then showed her what I'd purchased: one spool of ribbon, two bags of rubberbands and an 8-pack of the cardboard cake discs.

She looked confused. When I asked her if I'd forgotten something, she laughed and said, "Well, I said I needed two spools of ribbon, one bag of rubberbands, and one cake disc."

Seriously, Stephanie. This is not that hard.

"And more diapers," she said.


In my defense, the cardboard cake thing was only available in the 8-pack. At least as far as I could tell. Plus, I knew Michael's wouldn't have diapers, so I walked next door to CVS and bought more, this time bigger ones, and of the generic variety.

Once again, collossal failure. When I got them back to Kyle, we opened them and found them to be a completely different style, color, and design than the first ones that I bought. These had a blue tint.

Why is this diaper cake the worst decision ever?

I took the half-opened diapers back to CVS and tried again, this time buying the exact same name brand, small diapers I bought from the beginning. The teenaged cashier wanted to talk to me about diapers, assuming having been in there to buy them twice, that I would've too. I did not, obviously, and tried to leave in a hurry.

I returned to Kyle's store, stressed and exhausted. The stress caused me to blow my 12-days of vegetarianism on a microwaveable White Castle cheeseburger, courtesy Kyle's co-worker and friend, Mendy. Unfortunately, even red meat couldn't help me in this situation.

Once we had a random assortment of supplies, all that we had left to do was to construct the cake. Kyle, not used to working under such conditions with such crappy materials, did the best she could to get me started and to show me how it needed to be done.

In fact, she constructed two of the three layers with little to no help from me at all. I promised her I'd go to Michael's on my way home and pick up another spool of ribbon to complete the project. If she could just get me started, I could pick it up where she left off.

"And," I told her, "I got this oversized Rubber Duck to go on top of it," I said excitedly, certain she would be thrilled with this innovative idea.

She was not. She looked at me like I was both crazy and a redneck with absolutely no class whatsoever.

"It's supposed to be a floppy, stuffed animal," she said. "The animal's legs are supposed to hang over the sides."

"Oh yeah," I said, nodding, "I know. But I decided to go with a beach theme. And the duck is really cute."

She did not look impressed and though she never said so, she gave me a look like, "I'd rethink that plan if I were you."

I stuck with my theme and finished my multi-colored and multi-textured, ghetto style diaper cake. It took one more trip to another Michael's, a completely different ribbon choice, and when it was done, it had a giant rubber duck sitting on the top of it. Since I ran out of diapers (just like Kyle said I would), I was forced to roll up the outfit I'd bought baby Edie and make it a part of the cake.

Despite my failure at nearly every turn, the cake was a huge hit on Day 210. Rebecca loved it. I think I'm going to continue to outsource my craft projects to Kyle, but at least I know when push comes to shove, I can make a diaper cake.

And then it was time to party.

Admittedly, part of the stress in finishing the cake was that I was also doing something at night on Day 209 that I had never done before that I had to get ready for.

My friend Paul had asked me that morning if I would be his date to the 9 o'clocks spring party later that evening at Piedmont Driving Club.

The 9 o'clocks is an all-male social club that several of my friends are members of. The group has two parties every year, one in the spring and one on New Year's Eve. Those who are members are not shy about the fact that the organization's entire existence is for the parties.

I'd like to say that this was the first time I'd ever been asked out for a date on the same day as the date, but it is not (I'm not sure what this says about me, but I'm sure it isn't good). I know the southern lady in me should have said no, and demanded that he ask me days in advance, but the reputation of these parties made me curious and I wanted to go, so I said, "yes."

Paul had to go to a wedding, so we arrived after dinner, just in time for the first of two bands and a DJ that would fill the evening's entertainment line-up. In that regard, I'd say we arrived right on time.

I was a little intimidated, and somewhat turned off, by the exclusivity of this group. I wondered if I'd feel out of place. I mean, I did go to public school, after all. But when I got there, I saw that this party was nothing more than an adult fraternity band party with tuxedos and fancy dresses. It was less like some exclusive party and more like the greatest wedding I'd ever been to where no one got married.

I suppose upon further investigation we could talk about the social injustices and potential snobbery associated with such a group, but I'd rather not. Plus, I can't, and wouldn't, because the party was freaking fun. I had a blast and everyone that I met was super nice.

Plus, I got to watch my friend Philip accidentally dump a woman's purse out onto the floor and middle aged white men get their groove on to Yacht Rock. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday night.

This day was like a giant metaphor for my life. One hand in diaper cakes, and the responsibility of babies and adulthood, the other hand still holding on to fraternity parties, not wanting to let my spontaneous, fun side ever go.

Part of me wonders if that feeling of being trapped between two sides of myself will ever change. Part of me hopes it never does.

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