I am all aquiver. Only 28 more days until The Event of 2011…The Royal Wedding! I’m starting to firm up my itinarary, strategize my war plan. My alarm clock(s), two of them actually, just in case, have already been set for 4AM, and I’m not budging until the networks close down the show. Thank goodness for TIVO, because when I did this the last time for Diana’s wedding, there were no pause buttons, no potty breaks, no snack runs to the kitchen. I can’t believe it’s been 30 years!
I never cared two beans about the royal family until Diana came on the scene. There was nothing much about the perpetually constipated and dowdy Queen Elizabeth or her son to get my knickers in a twist. However, Diana changed all that. She had such glamour and yet such a sweet innocence. She was such a breath of fresh air blowing through that stodgy, mildewed family. I remember that Wednesday so many years ago with amazing clarity. It started with my decision to call in sick that day, to a work/study job that I adored. But, priorities have to be set.
It was one of those summer days in Manhattan that are so beautiful and crystalline you can hardly believe your luck. All the windows and doors to the terraces were wide open to the breeze, and flowers tumbled in a riot of color, spilling over their containers. Like millions of others, I completely bought into the fairy tale being played out before my eyes. It makes me physically ill to think about what was really going on behind the scenes with Charles, Diana, and Camilla. WOW, talk about a complicated and crowded wedding day. It’s difficult to imagine the torment that poor baby was enduring behind her shy smile. I had supposed her deer-caught-in-headlights expression was caused by the teeming masses; who would ever have guessed the truth?
Then came the shock and horror of Labor Day weekend 1997, when I was once again glued to my television set for days watching the world say goodbye. The most gut-wrenching moment for me came when Elton John sang “Candle in the Wind”. Was Diana’s light burning so brightly and with such a radiant life force because it would be extinguished too soon? Was she so much larger than life because that life would be cut so short?
In 2009, as a dress rehearsal for our trip to Ireland, The Spousal Unit decided I needed to experience an authentic Irish pub. So we drove hours to Pinehurst NC to find one. The Unit was stunned and mortified when I ordered a shot of tequila to go along with the pint of Guinness he’d gotten me. I gently reminded him that I was only 50% Celtic and that the other 50% would always and forever be Texican. Therefore, a shot of Jose and a pint of Guinness were a logical and perfect pairing. Almost as perfect as Kate and William themselves!
So, to celebrate the royal wedding, I will be in my favorite chair, in front of my 60” TV, at 4AM 28 days from now. My shot glass is polished and gleaming, the Jose is in the liquor cabinet and the Guinness is on ice. Now, I just have to decide if I’ll be eating shepherd’s pie or fish and chips served in a newspaper cone, sprinkled with malt vinegar. My final gustatory tribute to all things British will be my bowl of Wimbledon strawberries and cream.
I’m not sure what compels me to always answer the siren call of television. God knows I’ve had way more excitement in my life than the average bear, so it can’t be the need to live vicariously. For years, people around me have said, “You have to write all this down; so many unbelievable things have happened to you”. About a year after I came back from Italy, I had my natal charts done by an astrologist. She told me that I would live through many lifetimes in the course of this one because I wanted to burn off all my karma in order to not have to return here again. I left the two-hour reading with the astrologist feeling exhausted to the bone; I thought that if all she foresaw was correct, I should just curl up in a hammock in the sun and take a nap for the next 75 years. If it’s true that our lives are school to teach our souls, then I’m probably on my third doctorate by now. Yet I’m still standing, still grinning, and still bouncing off the walls with childlike enthusiasm for royal weddings, American Idol, and a lazy day on the beach.
Now back to ‘Texas Toast”. Like all good fairy tales, Cinderella’s glass slipper came off and it was time for Boy and me to say goodbye to Italy. When I had my first meeting with Wilhelmina, I was stunned to be treated like returning royalty. There was definitely a caste system within the agency, and if I was on the bottom rung holding on by my fingertips when I left, I now seemed to have been moved about ¾ of the way up. Both my day and hourly rate were raised, and there was much ado over all my tear sheets from the Italian magazines. Suddenly, I was being sent on go-sees to photographers of a much higher caliber. Strangely, no word was ever uttered about the Paris fiasco.
Work was plentiful and it took me longer than it should have to realize that I wasn’t making much money. I was so busy with “editorial” shoots that there was little room for clients paying my new rate. I would spend 10-12 hours a day working for teen magazines such as “Co Ed”, “Seventeen”, and “Ingenue” and be paid a whopping $75 per day, out of which came the agency’s 10% commission, taxes, and expenses. I was still butting heads with the agency over the junior versus sophisticated issue as well. I had turned 24 and was still being sent out on calls for 14 to 16-year-old girls.
There was not a week that went by that I didn’t have the Italy/NYC debate. Should I go back there and buy the house, or stay and keep trying to do the kind of work I had envisioned? If I returned there, would my career have legs, or would it turn out I had been the flavor of the month and the ice cream was now melted? Boy’s new role as a roommate was only a slight improvement over that as a boyfriend. He had acquired a job of sorts, working as a graphic designer, and was now paying half the rent and expenses, and doing his share of the housework. Strangely, though, he didn’t seem in a huge hurry to leave. Perhaps an exorcism or an eviction was in order?