Sunday, April 24, 2011

ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING SOMEPLACE ELSE


April 24, 2011

William’s marrying Kate, forsooth, and the entire world is enchanted except me. I’m bored silly with the royals – the Brits, the Danes, that Monaco mob, the lot of them. Swaziland’s King Mswati III and his 14 wives included.
They’re all just people aren’t they? People who comb their hair and wear fancy clothes festooned with gold braid and shiny designer buttons and sparkly headgear. Out-of-work people but unlike us in that they have too much money and nothing to occupy their time except be royal.
Being royal is something I expect quite a few of us common folk could easily get used to. Swanning around at these toffy receptions attending countless dinner parties, graciously accepting expensive gifts galore with red carpet treatment at every turn...
Yes, I think I could manage that. As long as I didn’t have to become a hoity-toity chinless wonder with a plummy accent and a nose-in-the-air attitude.
But watching two people I don’t know get hitched does nothing for me, especially as their bash is something that’s way out of my league. It’s like admiring someone else’s Lamborghini or oceangoing yacht. I won’t ever be able to afford a luxury item like that so why waste my time coveting it.
And on that note I never could understand the popularity of Robin Leach’s TV show ‘Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous’. It was part of the 1980s if-you’ve-got-it-flaunt-it era where wallowing in wealth was so fashionable. But on the outside looking in? Why would we want to press our noses up against these people’s windows? I’ve got better things to do.
I cannot fault some fathers who lash out $100,000 or more to have their little girl wed in style. It’s the one time in her life where she is the absolute sole focus: she’s Princess Kate for a day. Yet half of those who join in marriage become un-joined a few years later; in America there’s a divorce about every 26 seconds. Now imagine that expensive marriage souring due to arguments over cash - money that could have saved the union instead of being spent on one sweet day of joy.
My wedding – to the love of my life – was a low key affair attended by one of my oldest and closest friends, who happened to be visiting at the time, and by our dog Teddy. Judge John Michael Coleman thundered over from Athens on his motorcycle and declared us man and wife in a dimly-lit room we’d only half built at the time. It was romantic.
The whole thing, cheap champagne and all, cost less than $300. Thirteen years later my daughter was married without hoopla in the exact same spot by Monroe judge Donna Parker. Her daddy found another $300 for that one.
On the other hand, a friend’s daughter had one of those daisy-chain weddings to the same groom, first one in England, next Georgia then on to the Caribbean. If she divorces will it be a three-stop round-the-world affair also? In reverse order.
These destination weddings, where the party is flown to some exotic spot, are said to save money, the advantage being that the guest list is far smaller. But still...
Another young filly got married in a field of flowers, therefore her divorce, if it happens, must logically take place in a field of weeds.
Those opulent celebrity weddings come unstuck and I shake my head. Not even six months into Chelsea Clinton’s $5 million thrash there were serious rumblings that it was going from wedlock to unlock; now it seems a split is imminent. Was all that money wasted? We’ll find out soon... if we care.
We already know the $2.5 million Elizabeth Taylor – Larry Fortensky coupling fizzled after five years, while Christina Aguilera’s $2 million hitch was just as short. Tom Cruise’s cost the same and there are ominous murmurings about that one, too.
I always found Celine Dion’s extravaganza in Las Vegas obscene. At half a million dollars, her 1994 Canadian wedding had been a real cheapie by comparison; the glittering Vegas reaffirmation cost a reported $6 million. There she was, glowing amidst the camels and imported birds, berber servants and litterbearers, jugglers, dancers – one with lighted candelabra on her head – and her Arab husband...
If any of these “VIPs” had chosen the $300 version instead, those millions could have gone to feed the hungry. Not just in Africa or whatever: how about here in the United States.
But celebs and royals never think that way. Prince Charles has a servant to squeeze the toothpaste onto his brush and I wouldn’t be surprised if another flunkey helps him blow his nose.
Britain will spend a bunch on the April 29 wedding, although quite a bit less than the $50 million that was splashed on the Charles and Diana betrothal back in 1981.
I got up really early for that one. Wedzilla? Ho hum. I only did it because Costello’s Bar in New York put on a special for the foreign journalists that included gallons of free booze. But who feels that thirsty at 6am?
For this month’s yawn-o-rama I wouldn’t get out of bed. And if Wifey wants to go all teary-eyed in front of the TV I’ll be looking elsewhere, maybe reading once more with relish about French royalty going to the guillotine.
William and Kate are two people I don’t know and never will. But they’ll generate an estimated $1 billion toward Britain’s economy, so maybe I should rejoice. It’s just that I keep thinking of folks in this country as well as over there to whom one billionth of that amount would mean a welcome bowl of gruel.

ENDIT

© 2011 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.