Tyson Runkle and his pals drew stares when they ducked into the grocery store for some 21st-century party essentials: beer, steak and a month’s supply of diapers.
“You would have thought that DCFS (Department for Children and Family Services) was going to meet us in the parking lot from the weird looks we were getting,” quips Runkle, 32, of Indianapolis.
In fact, those bewildered shoppers were witnessing a new rite of fatherhood.
Long the domain of women, the single-sex baby shower is increasingly being embraced by men, who eschew diaper swans and designer invites in favor of poker nights, ball games and barbecues. No one keeps track of how popular man showers — aka diaper parties or “dadchelor” parties — are among today’s dads. But Craig Dexheimer, co-founder of the MansShower LLC, says he has seen interest increase over the past two years.
“More and more dads are becoming much more involved in the lives of their children,” says Dexheimer. “I’m 40, so my dad wasn’t in the delivery room, because back then, dads weren’t even part of that process. And now there are so many more stay-at-home dad groups, and support groups for dads on Twitter.
“(Dads) are really embracing fatherhood, and I think it’s a chance for them to celebrate and say, it’s cool to be a dad. It’s cool to celebrate the arrival of your son or daughter.”
Man showers vary, with tweets and Instagram posts showing parties on the beach, in smoke-filled card rooms and in yards and garages. Guests often bring diapers, and some new dads get several months’ supply — a significant windfall for a young family with limited resources. ManShower offers party plans complete with events such as the Baby Bottle Beverage Slam, the ManShower Diaper Toss and the Baby Food Eating Challenge.
Dexheimer’s friend Scott Lynch holds the world record in the Beverage Slam: 5.93 seconds, according to the ManShower website.
“It’s just a regular old-fashioned baby bottle and they fill it up with beer and they see who can suck out the beer the fastest,” says Lynch, a marketing executive in southern California. “We’re all good at something, and for some reason I’m good at that. It hasn’t really gotten me anywhere in life, but I do have that skill.”
Runkle, who works in public relations, says that he hosted his first man shower seven years ago.
“A bunch of us were just sitting around one day — someone was having a kid — and someone said women get to have all the showers; guys don’t get to do anything,” Runkle recalled. “So, we’re like, ‘(Heck), let’s just do it. There wasn’t a whole lot of thought to it.”
Runkle’s taste in man showers runs to cigars and whiskey. He also favors poker with a buy-in of $20 — and diapers.
“There are a lot of single guys and no one knows what type of diapers to buy so they’re all different sizes,” Runkle says. “And parents really like it because when the kid’s growing and it’s time to switch to a new size of diapers, they already have it.”
Lynch says that after he and his friends went through their bachelor party phase, man showers seemed like a natural next step.
“For me it’s funny to think about — why wasn’t it around (before)?” says Lynch. “Women typically do it: They’re excited and they get their friends together and they celebrate that they’re having a baby. It’s obviously equally important to us that we’re having a child.”