Major Peter "Shoo" Shoolander attended his niece's wedding in his dress blue Army Service Uniform with its tailored suit coat and low waist trousers and a permanent military creased-white shirt with shoulder loops. He was on terminal leave preparing to retire after twenty-two years of honorable military service and now that he was back in his hometown he didn't mind showing off in front of family and friends he didn't see very often.
He didn't mean to upstage the newlyweds at the reception but Shoo definitely stood out looking sharp and impressive in his Army Dress Uniform and he enjoyed the attention while reconnecting with people from his past. The bride was delighted to have her VIP Uncle among the invited guests and Shoo was happy to be welcomed back in the fold having been gone for much of the past two decades.
When the head caterer announced that the meal was being served, Shoo took his seat at Table Seven, joining Uncle Rob and Aunt Lucy, Cousin Pat, and Jake and Amber (friends of the groom) for the meal. The conversation was easy going and interesting and Shoo was half way through his prime rib when his eye caught sight of one of the catering staff moving about the tables pouring coffee for the guests.
She looked familiar and Shoo kept staring at the woman although he couldn't believe it might actually be who he thought it was. At one point, the woman glanced his way and her eyes went wide when she saw him gawking at her. She immediately turned her back and avoided his section of the room while the meal continued but Shoo knew exactly who she was. He waited until the meal was over and the catering staff began picking up before he approached the woman but she ducked into the back kitchen when she saw him coming.
"Taffy!" Shoo said, following her into the room.
She was wiping her forehead with the back of her hand and she sighed when she saw him enter. "Staff only," she muttered.
"Taffy!" Shoo repeated, amazed to see her after all these years.
"I didn't know this was your family's wedding," She said with annoyance as she went to the deep sink to wash some of the pots and pans. "I wouldn't have worked it had I known."
"You're a caterer?" Shoo asked with surprise.
"I work for my friend Helen on occasion for extra money," she explained, her arms up to her elbows in sudsy water.
Shoo noticed how tired Taffy looked. She was dressed in pink hospital scrubs with a flowery apron. Her blond hair was pulled back in a ponytail. There were crow's feet by her eyes. She didn't look happy.
"Go ahead, take glee in my situation," she said as she scrubbed a pan. "Celebrate my failures."
"I would never do that," he replied earnestly.
"We're designated enemies, remember?" Taffy groaned, throwing him a disgusted look.
"That was a long time ago," he said.
"Not long enough," She complained with a frown.
"You still friends with Raye?" Shoo asked.
She shook her head with disgust. "Are you kidding?" Taffy wanted to know. "Look at me!"
"Did she and Greg last?" He wondered.
Taffy rolled her eyes. "Of course not," she said. "Last I heard he was out in Arizona or something. Border patrol, I think."
"Who gives a fuck?" Taffy groaned. Then she sighed with defeat. "Married. Living the dream on Long Island."
"You're not happy about that?"
"Do I look happy?" She snarled, putting a pot in the dry rack.
Shoo studied her for a long moment. "What happened to you?" He asked softly.
Taffy gave him an angry look. "What happened to you?" She demanded.
"You never thought I'd amount to anything, did you?" He challenged.
She looked momentarily chagrined and embarrassed. "I don't suppose I'm in a position to say anything," she realized. "Me, the one who walked around with the stick up her ass as you often told me."
"I was wrong," Shoo said.
"No you weren't," Taffy admitted sadly. "Looks like karma paid me back, huh?" She laughed as she ran more hot water into the deep sink.
Shoo stared at her for a long moment, feeling sorry for her perhaps for the first time in his life. Taffy must have picked up on his vibes.
"I don't need your pity, Shoo-fly," she said with annoyance.
"Am I that obvious?" He blushed.
She threw him a look. "You look good in that uniform," she observed, perhaps offering him her first compliment ever.
"I worked hard for it," he admitted.
They stared at each other for a long moment before Taffy returned her attention to the pots and pans. "I'm working," she said, clearing her throat. "You should get back to the reception."
"I'd rather stay with you," he said.
Taffy gave him a funny look. "That would be a first," she remarked.