When Bryan’s grandparents’ friends’ (following?) told us that they wanted to throw us an engagement dinner at their home in Arlington, Texas, we were excited. We would have been even more excited had we known what we were in for that night. Our only job was to select a favored President between Ford, Bush, and Reagan. My dad picked Reagan. We also couldn’t have had better timing because it just so happened to be the ‘big night’ for high school football and Jamal, a local kid that our hosts had been sponsoring for quite a long time now.
I have never been inside a more colony-esque palatial mansion in my life…we’re talking plantation-style. An exact replica of Andrew Jackson’s home, ‘The Hermitage’ boasts every presidential relic this couple could get their hands on. A red carpet runway, twenty foot ceilings, rich mahogany wood, chandeliers for miles, artwork from centuries past, and marble everything. We were greeted with a staff who served as bartenders, wait staff, photographers, and the cleanup crew. There were china sets all around…each displayed as a part of a presidential collection, there was a hair of Andrew Jacksons framed on the wall, as well as pictures of the host and hostess’ with elite leaders from all around. My jaw was on the floor.
Bryan’s grandpa deserves the badge for the best attire of the night: blue sunglasses that were worn the whole time (which a dear friend of my mothers later confessed she thought they were because he was blind), a silk Roberto Cavalli shirt with a firework-like pattern all over (I know it was RC because it said that all over in print), blue slacks and blue suede shoes. Whabam. Sitting next to his grandmother in jewels beyond imagination, my mother thought she had the best seats in the house.
I guess I am from a town of cows, but I had no idea that etiquette dictated that people should be mixed and seated next to less-familiar members of the group. At the very least, the thought never entered my mind that I would be on the opposite side of the opposite end of my fiance…with a four foot by four foot centerpiece to serve as the median. I didn’t see him the whole night. Instead, my place card sat me next to the male host of the evening and (thankfully) beside one of my future sister-in-laws. We had formal menus, red, white, and blue jellybean favors, and all the silver and china one could desire. Yes, we even had sorbet to cleanse our palettes in between courses.
We started off with introductions, going around the table and starting with my less-than-fearless mom, who laughed her way through her own introduction. A slightly drunken host kept announcing me as the ‘smart girl’ to the rest of the room. Our introductions were interrupted randomly by the host sitting next to me to give me updates about the high school football game. He even pulled out a recent article about the kid from his front pocket. When my dad had a turn to speak to the room, he made sure to announce (after so much repetition on the topic that it was weird) that I would be naming my firstborn ‘Jamal Paul.’ The host announced towards the end of the evening that we should do this annually, and my mom badgered him all night ‘suggesting’ that we do this again, starting his rally all over again. Things got a little ‘terse’ on my end when the host began speaking about his hired help when they were right there…and as the fierce warrior that I am, I shot that conversation down fast. Other than the social scrambled eggs caused by some of the controversial conversation topics, best night hands down.
We left with a 20×14 of ourselves, a crazy amount of colored jellybeans, and a camera full of ‘all the pictures everyone wanted to take but was too afraid to.’ If this is an annual thing, I’m bringing everyone I know to the next one.