A gift shower – for yourself

Long before thirtysomething Sex In The City character Carrie Bradshaw threw herself a shower, another single New York writer, Helene Hanff, did the same (except it happened for real – Helene was penniless and about to move into a humble unfurnished studio apartment), as follows:

“What you need,” she [Helene’s friend Maxine] said finally, “is a kitchen shower.”

“I’m not getting married,” I said.

“You’re marrying New York,” said Maxine.  “You’ll have to write a cute invitation.  We’ll have the shower at my house.  A luncheon.  A Saturday luncheon.”

“I couldn’t!”  I said.  “I can’t send out invitations asking people to furnish my kitchen!”

“You’re not sending the invitations.  I’m sending them.  You don’t know anything about the luncheon,” said Maxine.  “It’s a surprise.  Showers are always surprises.  You’re just coming to my house for lunch.  When you get there, be surprised.”

[A list is drawn up and invitations duly despatched.]

And so on the appointed Saturday I wandered into Maxine’s parents’ apartment for lunch – and there was my sister-in-law come all the way from Garden City and a simple host of friends.  And sitting in the middle of the floor in a large wicker basket, each item brightly wrapped and tied with flossy ribbon, were frying pans and double boilers and mixing bowls and kitchen knives and pot holders and dish towels and a roasting pan and a Revere Ware teakettle that sang.

Helene Hanff, Underfoot in Show Business, 1961, Andre Deutsch Ltd

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