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ONE-SHOT: A grandparent's 50th Wedding Anniversary from the granddaughter's perspective.
The entire wedding party was there, identical pictures were taken, now fifty years later, and the best man sat in the same seat as before. I could not have been less aware of this. My focus was solely on these classy people's shins and knees. Their stockings were lovely to look at, with runs in different shades of brown and black. I was eight then, and nothing spoke of my lack of height more than staring at people's stockings. It probably did tell something of my generally timid nature, namely refusing to look up at the looming faces. Of course, I did get my chance to be in the spotlight. Grandmothers have such a soft spot for their darling grandchildren, and I can recall being coddled more times than I could count back then.
The ballroom was a mystery to me. The room went so high, and all I can remember were lots of unfocused bright lights at the top. There might have been a chandelier, but heaven seemed closer than that ceiling. Breathing in pungent perfume, the smell of an old grandfather multiplied by about fifty, assaulted my senses. I know I must have stepped into that room with a snotty look on my face, set off by my wrinkled up nose and scrunched eyes as I glared at the bright lights above me.
In the middle and right side of the ballroom was an open dance area, where the people of a generation past danced to classic "oldies". The music had not been of any interest to me. I was more concerned with getting out of the faux Lord and Taylor's perfume section for seventy-five-year-old people.
My little brother was going to be my entertainment that night, as repeating "you've grown so much" was going to make my ears bleed. Tommy, hardly three years younger than myself, had found a new obsession. He liked to shine his shoes.
In that high-class bathroom, full of marble and flower baskets, there was a little machine to shine men's shoes. I never did get a good look at it, being a girl and all, but Tommy would come out of that door glowing. His blonde hair might have made him look like an angel, but the mischievous grin on his face destroyed it. He would walk purposefully over to the wooden dance floor, and put just the tip of his right toe straight down on the floor. Then, amidst the dancing humanoid perfume factories, he would proceed to completely decimate the front of his new, once perfectly black shoes.
In a flash he would be back in that bathroom shining them again. Proudly he would step out, show me the new black polished shoe, and then repeat the experience. He must have done it nearly the entire time, and so being away from the general party, as my parents kept getting compliments about how good we were.
My parents, uncle, sibling, and I sat at the farthest end of the table. The seating arrangement echoed the marriage fifty years earlier, and due to a strange mishap, none of us had been able to go. My grandfather must have said a toast, and the food might have been good, but I was sleepy and fussy. Sitting in chairs, with my feet dangling off the ground, trying to eat fancy food and be good at the same time was cutting into my ability to multitask.
I know we returned to the hotel in a haze and the bed felt odd, uncomfortable. The mattress was not the bad part, sharing it with my brother was. He had beaten me to bed, after mistakenly thinking my mother's wineglass was his juice, and downing the whole thing. I know I struggled to sleep that night, though I cannot recall why. The shores of sleep were far from me, I was drifting on another ocean. Eventually I glided to the right beach, and slept through the ride home the next day.