Here’s how I’d like for gender reveal parties to go. I find all of these preferable to what we currently have. Imagine:
- You and your lovely boyfriend gather around your best friend Rachel and her husband Tom as they raise a large black balloon in the yard. Excitement brims. Tom produces a large, novelty needle and holds it aloft. You all see the needle and cheer. Tom brings the needle to Rachel’s swollen balloon, and as you wonder what the meaning of this metaphor is, the balloon pops, erupting with dozens of tiny streamers of pink and baby blue. The streamers fly through the crowd guided by unseen hands, wrapping themselves sloppily around each person present, revealing to them their own gender. People heave sighs of relief, others heave moans of despair, having been assigned-no-revealed by the balloon to be a gender they don’t wish to be. But as we know, the Balloon is final. The Balloon is law. Those who weep will have to wait until the next reveal party to try to get a more preferable gender.
- Your lovely boyfriend, Tom, stands tall beside you at your sister Danielle’s gender reveal party. She hefts a large black balloon over her head, on which is written “It’s A ???”. Everyone smiles and coos as Danielle’s wife, Audry, brings out a needle, and you all cheer as she holds it up. As Audry penetrates the balloon, while maintaining intense eye contact with Danielle that borders on inappropriate, the balloon explodes, leaving in its place a material darkness, a floating absence. The orb of blackness hovers slowly up, and as you fail to peer into its innards, your eyes, all of your eyes, begin to project spots and swirls in the shadow. Like when you press on your closed eyelids. You see forms so fantastical…horses charging across a plain…a thunderhead covering a hill, and then crashing on a mountain…three dogs tearing at a dead bird. And then it is gone. And you understand. You ALL understand, that Gender is the balloon, the closed container that holds something inscrutable within. It’s not that gender is “revealed”, it is what it obscures that we experience. You all wipe the sweat from your brows and Danielle pours rosé.
- Your lovely boyfriends, Tom and Daniel, stand on either side of you, statuesque. Like the architecture of great gothic churches, they flank you, and the other people at the party with lesser boyfriends turn their faces from you in shame. At the center of the party is a tent of black fabric, ten feet in each dimension. The anticipation is gripping you. You MUST know. You MUST have the gender revealed to you. Marcy and Miguel stand beaming at you all. Marcy holds a pink rope, and Miguel a blue one, and as they smile and draw the ropes tight, the flaps of the tent pull back to reveal: You awaken in a dark warm sea. You can’t feel anything, it all feels the same. It’s all comfort, all the time. You reach out, and you touch something so soft. It’s a stomach. It’s their unborn child’s abdomen, unspeakably gentle. You ask: “are you a boy, or a girl?”. You are slightly smaller than the baby. The Baby does not open its eyes, it turns and speaks to your mind’s eye: “wtf are you talking about?” You remain firm. “BABY. Are you a boy or a girl?” The baby shifts again and says, “I hadn’t given it much thought, but how about girl? Does that answer the question?” You gasp awake in the arms of Tom and Daniel. You are soaking wet. Warm, salty liquid over your entire body. You tell Marcy that the Baby is a girl, and that she has one of the loveliest wombs you’d ever seen, though later in the car you laugh cruelly with Tom and Daniel about how she actually has a fairly plain womb, not very well thought out. Tom and Daniel laugh their splendid laughs.
- You stand with Tom, Daniel, Danielle, Marc, Marcy, Marceline, Marcus, and Miguel atop a craggy peak on the New England shore. It’s that late dark grey, the long dim light of stormy season’s evenings. Tom holds a seagull by the wings, and you all note over which shoulder it strains to see its captor. You help Danielle work some sap from the trees that you collected earlier in the week, and you daub the bird’s belly with the sap, and then mark its head with oils. Tom releases the bird into the wind, and it hangs, motionless in the sky. Not dead. It is falling down the wind that is rushing up to meet it at the same speed, and it floats there, feathers wriggling, eyes peering left and right, north and south. The revelations come swiftly, and Marc faints. It’s a boy. The boy will have a boy and a girl. Those children will have boys and girls and nbs and other new genders, all are laid out before you, they churn and twist on the horizon of time like starlings. You see an old woman. It is you. She’s a girl. And she is enfolded in the face of your mother. She’s a girl. Enfolded by the face of your grandmother. Again. Again. Back. Back. You see your line of mothers, the fathers and brothers are a blur in your periphery. The faces change, the brow protrudes, hair becomes fur and sprouts around the head. A hominid. A girl. A monkey. A girl. A little mouse-like thing, hiding in a tree. You can see your own face in hers. A reptile. A fish. A girl. You have her eyes, her sense of humor. The fish is smaller. Smaller. Too small to be seen, but you know that even now the line of your mothers is going back and back. You see a microbe, you feel it there, swathed dutifully in pink. “I’m A GIRL!” insists the microbe. You wake in the cruelly cold air of the New Hampshire coast, Danielle is holding salts under your nose.
ALL of these options are better than current gender reveal parties.