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Underneath a Painted Sky
2003-11-17 - 11:06 a.m.

I woke up at 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning, anxious to start the day. I wanted everything to be perfect. I was going to the Marine Ball. It would be my first. It is also dubbed as “prom night” by the ladies around here, for the way we get new formal dresses and have our hair done and whatnot. I never went to my High School Prom, so, this was even more special for me. I wanted to be Cinderella for a night. You will be happy to know that I accomplished that and, for me, the night was spectacular.

After Glen and I spent the morning hours doing the grocery shopping, we came home and took a nap. The ball was from 7p.m. to 4a.m. It was going to be a long night so I rested up before then. When I got up, I went and had my hair done. It was kind of like Belles’ from beauty and the beast. The hairdresser had a lovely glittering flower that matched my dress that she put in the back. She told me it was to make a statement for when I was coming AND going. I was very pleased with the way it turned out. Unfortunately, it was a rainy day so a lot of the curl in the back didn’t hold very well. For the most part, it still looked good. I wasn’t sure what color eye shadow to use because hey, I’m a tomboy and I don’t know nuthin bout no eye shadow colors. Her daughter suggested I use blues to bring out the colors in my eyes. I thought you were supposed to use blue after 1979, but figured what the heck. I went home and popped open some white zinfandel and poured myself a glass. I took it easy on the drinking though. I wanted to be elegant. I sipped wine and put on my make-up. I wished my mother and sisters were here with me to share in the fun and maybe help me with make-up. We could have all joked and laughed and done the girlie thing. I missed them all in that moment.

Then I put on my dress and decided on a pearl set I got for Christmas from the honey last year, I think. The set includes a necklace, bracelet, earrings, and a ring. I sprayed on some Obsession, put on my black, strapped heels and went downstairs. Dylan took one look at me and bowed. The kids oohed and ahhhed at me and how I looked. They aren’t used to seeing their Momma all dressed up like that. Emily wanted to do a ceremonial “placing of the wrap” around me. I looked in the mirror and for the first time in a very long time, I felt beautiful. I didn’t see the chubby bland face and tired eyes looking back at me. I saw a beautiful woman in the mirrors’ reflection. Glen was wearing his gray suit with a black cumber bun and tie. He had the scent of Victoria’s Secrets ‘VERY SEXY’ for men. I love that smell. He gazed at me and said, “Honey, you look beautiful”. I was a princess in my ball gown.

I kissed all the kids good-bye and we were off to the ball. The only difference was we road in a taxi instead of a carriage. The ball was held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Vienna. There are stairs up to the entrance. Like on the castle for Cinderella. I walked up, took a deep breath and walked inside. There were plush carpets and dazzling chandeliers and I was only standing in the lobby. I saw one of the marines standing by a second set of stairs. They were covered in a velvety, deep blue. I walked up to Jason and asked if I could take a picture with him. He said sure. After all, this was the Marine Ball.

So to Tara and Melissa, this is a sample of the fine, marines we have here representing our country. How soon can I expect your visit?

I climbed up those stairs into yet another lobby. This one had to separate bars on both sides and tables that you stand at. It was cocktail hour so we purchased a couple but about hit the floor for the prices. 10euro a piece! For small mixed drinks! There was not going to be a problem with me drinking too much. As I sipped my drink I anxiously awaited my friends arrivals. I couldn’t wait for them to see me all fancied up. As each one arrived, they hugged me and did the “kiss- face” thing where they kiss both cheeks as they greet you. They told me I looked fabulous dah-ling. I mingled with everyone I knew. It was like being in Jr. High at lunchtime. I used to go to all the different tables and groups and pop my head in to say hi. Ms. Social, that was me. Not really popular but always friendly. We had to wait longer than expected for the ambassador to show up but then we were allowed into the ballroom to find our seats. They had little place cards with our names on them. That was so cool. Like a reminder that I am actually here, and I really count. There was my name, right there in bold print, on a little card. Cool. Each place had a little bread plate and not one but, three crystal wine glasses; one for white wine, one for red, and one for water. There were 3 knives and like 15 forks and napkins shaped like the Popes hat. I had to stop myself from putting one on my head and having Glen kiss my hand. Hee.

Then it was time for the ceremony. The Marines ball is a celebration or birthday for the marines. They do a traditional cake cutting ceremony where they cut the cake with the sword. Then the ambassador takes a bite then it is passed to the oldest Marine present, then to the youngest Marine present. The ambassador then gave a speech. I hadn’t eaten all day and the speech was running kind of long so I started munching on the bread and butter at the table. Hey, it was almost 10 p.m. The waiters were walking by every 5 minutes refilling my glass of wine. I needed something to keep the wine from going straight to my head. After the speeches we got to eat. It was buffet style. There was all kinds of food but the salad and the salmon were the best. The Austrians aren’t very good at making American dishes though. After everyone ate the waiters came around with these little doll size coffee cups with espresso shots in them. They had sugar and cream too. I drank two. Then whoopee I was R-E-A-D-Y. I saw a bunch of the woman get up and run out of the ballroom. I told Glen I’d be back. I went into the ladies room where at least 30 women were standing around gossiping about this and that and everything. I said “Party’s in the girls room! Yo!” Somehow, the topic of breast came up. I think the majority of the woman there were a size 32 B at best. They took one look at me and placed dibs on a piece of my stash. Silly girls. They can have them. Oh and did I mention I was in there to clean the vegetable lasagna out of my cleavage? Hey, I tried so hard to be neat. I even put the pope hat on my lap. But my boobs are a catch all no matter what I do so I got a big chunk of saucy noodles on them. Whee. I don’t think too many people saw though.

When the dancing first started, it was a waltz. Glen and I don’t know how to Waltz. We went out there anyway. I told him we’d just 2-step but in little circles and wing it. That’s the one thing I really enjoy about Glen. He doesn’t care what anyone thinks and is not afraid to get up and dance with me, even if we don’t know how. We danced and talked and took pictures all night. We danced to a salsa, the Macarena, waltzes, disco, and the twist. You name it. We formed big circles on the dance floor with our friends and took turns going in the center and dancing silly. We did the YMCA. We laughed and danced until after 2 a.m. I was too tired to make it until 4. I hugged all my friends and we made plans for ladies night out. Then Glen and I left. As I was walking down the stairs I fought the urge to leave a slipper behind. It was a wonderful night and I had stars in my eyes. I didn’t get to sleep until almost 3:30 in the morning. My feet were throbbing, and my legs were aching but I didn’t care. When I finally fell asleep, I dreamed I was still on the dance floor, underneath a painted sky. I was dancing and dancing.

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