My niece’s wedding shower was yesterday, and I managed to pull it together enough to actually go. What’s more, I got the wedding shower gift sent to her house, and Amazon sent her birthday gifts to me on time, and I had the gift bag and tissue paper ready to go. By the way, whoever invented the gift bag has my undying gratitude. I used to take pleasure in wrapping gifts by hand, but ever since I discovered gift bags, there is no going back.
I wanted to channel my inner David Attenborough before I went. I was joking on Twitter that I should study the party-goers as if they were a different species, but it was really more about cultivating Attenborough’s inquisitive and attentive attitude. He goes into any situation with an open mind, and his tone is always one of wonderment. I have never heard him be judgmental or censorious, which is quite the feat. Plus, his voice is so warm and soothing. It’s like pouring maple syrup over your problems, and it’s a balm to my soul.
I knew going into the shower that much of the issue was my own shit. Yes, I have philosophical reasons for being against weddings and showers, but I have to be honest with myself–most of my anxiety was over me being a freak and worrying about whether I would do anything to embarrass myself or my niece.
Confession: I felt an immediate connection with my niece from the moment I saw her. As I said at her shower, I never knew I could love someone like that until that moment. She looked like me when I was that age, and more than one person assumed she was my daughter when we were out and about together. Which did not go down well with her real mother. I’m sure it was complicated by the fact that she’s white with Danish/Swedish (I think) background and did not at first glance look like my niece. You can see the resemblance if you look harder, but on the surface, it wasn’t as apparent.
I thought of my niece as the upgraded version of me. There were many things that we had in common, including a love for boys at an early age, a fearlessness that, sadly, we both lost over time, a wild imagination that translated into a writing ability (and in her case, an artistic ability as well), and a few other things as well. In other ways, however, she was unlike me. She was a stunning girl who turned heads wherever she went. Rail-thin like her mother, and she had a keen interest in makeup and fashion since she was young. She wanted to shave her legs when she was eleven, and she started wearing makeup on the daily a few years later. Her favorite colors were purple and pink, which is most definitely not like me.
A few years ago, she showed me the tattoo she got and told me that it was because of me and my tattoos. I was flattered, but a little nervous because I didn’t want to be accused yet again of being a bad influence on her. At her shower, she was introducing everyone and how she met them. She also gave a story, and when she got to me, she mentioned how she used to pretend to be a rock star, and I was her agent. I had forgotten that, but my favorite memory of her from that time is on a similar theme–and I shared it at the shower as well. We created a story about her being a princess who had all these fantastic adventures. I was her mother urging her to go out and do all the things. In the end, she saves her prince, and that came from her–not me. This went on for months, and it was so cool to see how creative she could get. We did it while playing on the playground equipment in the backyard, which was fun as well.
In addition, she said that the reason she grew her hair long was because of me and my hair. Which made her mother a little huffy as her mother had long hair sometimes as well, but my niece pointed out that she cut hers all the time whereas I’ve had waist-length hair since my early thirties. Again, I was flattered and touched that she thought of me in that way, but it was also a bit weird. I only saw her every few months, and it wasn’t as if we were having deep, meaningful conversations. Although, I did point out when she was eleven and bemoaning that she wasn’t allowed to shave her legs that I didn’t shave mine. She said with all the scorn of an eleven-year-old girl, “You’re not married, so that’s why it doesn’t matter. Boys don’t like it.” I said there were plenty of boys who did or at least didn’t care, and she said I was wrong.
That hurt, not personally, but that that mentality was still so prominent. I let it go because I wasn’t really in a position to do more than plant the seed, but at least I said something. I’ve also pointed out a few things about the Christian God over the years, which did not go over well with my brother at the time. I think the thing I took away from all this was that just by living my life authentically, I had an impact on her. Which was humbling, I must say.
I went into the shower trying to maintain my David Attenborough attitude. What helped is that I knew a few people already there (my niece’s grandmother and aunt on her mother’s side), and I had met two of the other people before as well. Asking questions about them and actively listened help, which is something I’m good at. Did I feel slightly uncomfortable and anxious? Yes, I did. I would have been exceedingly surprised if I hadn’t because that’s how I feel all the time, regardless of the situation. Was it as bad as I had feared? No, it was not. Not nearly. Not even close.
I really liked the groom’s grandmother and…great grandmother by marriage I think she was?. They were older women with the “I don’t give a flying fuck” mentality that some older women gain with time. They were a hoot, and I really dug what they brought to the table. The latter, in being asked if she wanted a cup of coffee, said, “I’ll get it myself later. After I win this!” as we were playing one of the bridal games. She said it with a wide grin, and I couldn’t help laughing with her.
What is the moral of the story? I am my own worst enemy. All the worrying I’d done ahead of time was all for naught, and it led to me not being able to sleep the night before the shower. That’s not unusual for me, sadly, before an important event, but it was particularly bad the night before the shower. I hope I can retain the message and carry it forward with me. David Attenborough, for the win!