I’m often asked what it’s like to be a writer — how I spend my days, how I experience the world. And so I will be sharing occasional essays from the front lines of my writing life. Enjoy!
A few months ago, I was in line at the supermarket, scanning magazine covers (less fattening than scanning candy bars) and flipping through People magazine. On the cover: Princess Kate holding the royal baby, Prince George Alexander Louis Bubba, who will one day be king of England.
Katy (excuse the informality) positively beamed, making me wonder what made her baby better than the one in line ahead of me, the one sucking on the bar of his mom’s shopping cart. Both babies pooped, right? (Yep, heirs poop. I wiki-ed it.)
The difference, I concluded, was not between the babes but between their moms. When you’re a princess, you don’t have to deal with diapers, let alone checkout lines. You never have to enter a supermarket or even drive by one in your coach. And should you assume the word “supermarket” has something to do with the economy — e.g., investors are betting on a “super market” — you won’t be laughed out of the country because you own a chunk of it.
As a princess, you don’t have to sumo wrestle your kid into pajamas or wear a corsage of spit-up. You don’t have to pray your babysitter will show up so you and your prince charming can steal away to McDonald’s for a quick dinner. (Gives new meaning to the term fast food, eh?) You don’t have to squirrel away money for a new tiara (you can borrow your mother-in-law’s) or for college because Bubba’s got a throne waiting for him at Oxford.
Not that I begrudge Katy any of this. As I flipped through People, I thought about her inevitable challenges and complaints: About how her hubby, Prince William, prefers polo to reading to his son, or how she has to schlep so much stuff when she vacations. Diapers, bottles, toys and ponies. Kids these days! Does she remember longingly the carefree days of her youth, when all she had to do was lug around a servant girl?
None of this is her fault, of course. Magazine editors are to blame. They take advantage of the peasantry, namely, moms who stare vacantly at magazine covers while waiting to unload groceries onto a conveyor belt. Moms who gaze upon the pert, pretty princess and suddenly feel 10 pounds heavier. (Back to thy shelves go thee, Doritos!)
Tsk, tsk. How bitter I sound. How bitter I suppose I am. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t want to be a princess (though I wouldn’t mind being treated as one). Globetrotting is quite tiring, with or without a servant girl. As for Kensington Palace — too much dusting. Besides, I’d get lost trying to find my kid’s room, or the refrigerator.
The fridge is the hearth of the home. It’s where the family jewels are kept: the goofy crayon drawings and report cards; the reminders to call the dentist and babysitter; the ever-growing shopping list, which includes one of everything except, curiously, People magazine.
And so, dear Katy, enjoy your baby. Next time I see you (next week?), may you still be smiling. Or, rather, may it be Prince William’s turn to hold his son. Even princesses deserve a day off.