Monthly Archives: June 2011

The Other Royal Wedding

Pop quiz:

1.  Did you know that a royal wedding is happening this Saturday, July 2?

2.  If you did know, can you name the bride?

I didn’t think so.  And that’s my point exactly.

We’ve gone from the biggest royal wedding in history to a royal wedding two months later for which no one is even bothering to purchase new hats.  Let’s explore why.

First of all, the wedding in question is that of Prince Albert II of Monaco and former Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock.   Hmmm, a prince marrying a commoner…this sounds familiar and compelling…so why isn’t it?

Let’s look at the less-than-appetizing facts:

  • He’s 53.  She’s 33.
  • He has already fathered two children out-of-wedlock with two different women; his daughter is 19 and his son is 6.
  • Charlene has spent the last four years living in an apartment in Monaco, paid for by the prince.  She hasn’t had a job in that time, and seeing as she’s only just learning French, it doesn’t seem like she could have obtained one.

But before I get too critical, let’s not forget that she is going to be a princess.  Of MONACO, easily one of the most fabulous areas of the Mediterranean.  She’s going to live in a castle, with staff, with nothing more to do than produce an heir and appear at state events.  Sounds like a good deal to me.

Oh, and she gets a ring that takes up half her finger:

On second thought, I don’t think I would take all of that if it meant marrying him.  No offense, Al.

One advantage Charlene has over Kate is two sisters-in-law to turn to for guidance.  Kate married a man with one brother, while Charlene is marrying a man with two sisters, Princess Stephanie (shown below) and Princess Caroline.

One can imagine it would be quite helpful to have a few experienced princesses around to show one the ropes.

Though apparently they haven’t been jumping to serve as fashion advisors, seeing as they are both ill-qualified.  I can’t decide who looks worse — Charlene or Princess Stephanie.  No, Stephanie definitely looks worse.

Apparently Charlene agrees.  In a recent Vogue article, she spoke of this particular fashion misstep (at the 2007 Monaco Red Cross Ball),  “Finding my fashion feet has certainly been the biggest challenge,” she says.  “I was literally a fish out of water. I thought it was all fun, fun, fun, and didn’t give my outfit any thought. I had been playing beach volleyball all day, painted my nails red, and threw on a dress. I thought I looked great at the time, but looking back, I realize that my debut into Monaco society should have been better executed!”

When she’s that honest with herself, how can you not feel for her? 

I am the first to admit that any lady entering the world stage would probably fail in comparison to Kate the Great, but I can’t help but shudder at some of her choices.

Try not to jump back in your chair when you see this pantsuit:


But that’s all behind her now.  Soon she’ll be walking down the aisle in Armani.  Soon she’ll have designers at her disposal.   Soon she’ll be looking back at all of this and laughing over a glass of Veuve Clicquot.

Which leaves me with the final task of watching and evaluating the big day.  No matter how Charlene looks, one thing is sure: we know there will be hats.  Guests may be pulling them from the back of their closets, but there will be lots of hats. 

Stay tuned.

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Filed under One WORD (Current Events)

Finding What We Were Looking For

Our journey to the U2 concert two weeks ago was more complicated than driving from our home to the stadium.

I bought the tickets for Mike in October 2009.  No, that is not a typo.

I gave them to him for Christmas that year, as we had always dreamed of seeing U2 live.  Seeing them in Seattle was second only to seeing them in Dublin, so we were both thrilled it was finally happening.

Like thousands of other fans, we were crushed when we got the email in March 2010 that Bono had hurt his back and the concert would be delayed.  We were absolutely slayed when they decided to delay it by an entire year to June 4, 2011;  it felt like they had said, “Whatever date sounds like it will absolutely never arrive — that is the new date of the concert.”

Toward the end of 2010, a couple in our Bible study announced their engagement.  We were utterly thrilled for them and so excited to watch them take the next step in their relationship.  We didn’t give a thought to the date they chose, because their wedding seemed close, and we thought the concert was impossibly far away…

…until one day in mid-April I was driving to lunch from work and heard the announcer on the radio excitedly mention the concert coming up on June 4.  I nearly careened off the road as I dove for my phone to call Mike in a panic.  He said we could talk about it that evening.

Talk we did.  Many times.  We even prayed about it, because the last thing we wanted was to hurt our friends’ feelings.  Finally, after much discussion, we figured out a way to honor their wedding and make one of our dreams come true — we would do both.  Thankfully, the fabulous bridal couple graciously understood.

I forgot to mention one little factor.  They planned to marry in Yakima, which is 2.5 hours outside of Seattle.

The wedding was at 4PM.  The concert was at 7PM.  This was going to require some James Bond Mike Reph driving skills.

We dressed for the wedding, packed alternate clothes for the concert, and made sure our tickets were in the glove box.  We hauled tail over the mountains to Yakima and made it there at 3PM so we could help with wedding duties.  The wedding was beautiful and we were so thankful we didn’t miss it.

We pulled away from the church at exactly 5PM and by 6:55PM we were circling Qwest Stadium.  Mike shaved 35 minutes off the drive time.  If that’s not James Bond, I don’t know what is (luckily Lenny Kravitz was the opener, so we took our sweet time snubbing the $50 parking lots in favor of the $15 spots half a mile away).

After arriving at the stadium, we realized we couldn’t find our section.  We walked back and forth between 236 and 238, but section 237 started to feel like the 13th floor of a hotel…nonexistent.

A concerned stadium guide saw my baffled expression and asked which section we were looking for.  “Oh!” she said.  “You’re on the club level!  It’s one more flight up!”

Club Level?

I didn’t buy Club seats!  I am far too cheap for such extravagance.  But buying them without knowing I was being a spendthrift was too good to be true.

We walked inside and gaped at the difference — 75% fewer people, no lines for the bathroom, and a far greater selection of food and drink.  Then we found that our seats were a mere six rows back from the balcony, our view was stellar, and we were on the aisle.

The whole situation was beginning to feel like a winning lottery ticket covered in sprinkles and delivered by carrier pigeon with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing the Hallelujah Chorus in the background.

Without a doubt, the concert lived up to what we had hoped it would be.  I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but I actually cried — more than once.  I couldn’t get over our deep sense of gratitude, the beauty of the music, and the magic of seeing the greatest band on Earth.

Knowing exactly how cheesy it would sound, but unable to contain myself, I turned to Mike in the middle of the concert and said, “Merry Christmas!”

He just laughed and pulled me in for a hug, which is how we stood for the rest of the song.

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Filed under The WORD (Faith)

The Opposite of Art Sophisticates

Mike and I each set off a museum alarm while in Europe.

One of us did this intentionally.  The other did not.

Both of us didn’t get caught. 

Here are our stories.

We were walking around the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, exploring the decorative arts (read: furniture) of the 16th century.  There were several-hundred-year-old chairs and beds, expansive red-velvet hangings and silk bedspreads.  I was enthralled with the idea of seeing how people actually lived in their homes, as opposed to just seeing what they’re famous for (their works of art, for instance).

Mike was walking a room or two ahead of me (medieval home furnishings not being a topic that makes him gasp with excitement), and I had slowed to look at a particularly ancient carved wooden chair.  I started thinking about all of the hundreds of people who had sat in that exact chair over the last 500 years, and it gave me little goosebumps.  Those little goosebumps took me straight back to being eight years old, at any of a number of historical sites with my mother.

“Abby, think about it, George Washington LIVED HERE.  This was HIS ACTUAL BED.  You have to touch it!  You have to touched what he touched!  This is HISTORY!”

So, inevitably, I would touch it.  I touched everything I could get my hands on, particularly in Williamsburg, and always at the urging of my mother.  She and I shared a special history-obsessiveness, and touching things was the only way to separate us from the throngs of passing public who merely looked at each exhibit. 

As I stood in front of the chair at the V&A, however, I failed to account for the nineteen years of museum technology that had occurred between my preteen illegal activity and now.

I looked around the room.  Empty. 

For just a split second, I reached across the rope and put my hand on the armrest of the chair.  Satisfied, I started walking to the next room.  It only took three seconds for the alarm to activate.

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP.

I jumped at the sound and started walking faster toward Mike, who was far enough away not to hear the sound.  By the time I reached him, four guards had appeared at the scene of the crime and were walking around looking for the perp. 

But I was too smart for them.  I’ve watched cop shows, I know what to do — the opposite of what a law-breaker would do: talk to the guards.

I walked up to the nearest guard and explained that I was looking for Da Vinci’s drawings.  I expected a quick answer that would dismiss me from suspicion, but apparently I chose the one guard who had been looking for his chance to show that he knew every corner of the museum by memory.

“Da Vinci is in room 24, which follows a series of rooms that explore several artists’ significant contributions to…” I glanced at Mike in misery that we had just been trapped, as the guard continued, “…or alternately you could take the Asian exhibit route which would show various periods of dress from the seventeenth to…”  This was never going to end.

Luckily, it did, and I never brought up my little dalliance with the law with the husband.

Until…

Five days later we were at the Musee de l’Orangerie in Paris, appreciating Monet’s enormous murals of his water lilies in Giverny.  We decided to venture downstairs to the temporary exhibits, because we had yet to see any of Picasso’s work while on our trip.

We noticed as we walked room to room that there were small metal rails blocking people from getting too close to each work of art.  But the odd thing about the rails was that they were only 12 inches off the ground, and they were extremely sharp and squared off on the ends. 

When we found the Picasso area, we moved slowly around the room, looking at each piece of art.  Without Mike realizing it, I left the room and moved into the next, and as he glanced up and saw that I was gone, he turned too quickly and jammed his leg right into a rail. 

He immediately lost his balance and gave a shout at the pain, and tumbling forward, he smacked his hand against the wall for support.  Only his hand didn’t land on the wall.  It landed on a Picasso.

Cue the alarm.

Suddenly Mike came hobbling toward me with the look of an animal in the crosshairs of a hunter.  He was grabbing his leg and reaching for the bench I was sitting on.  He pulled up his pant leg to reveal a three-inch gash on his shin.  But he didn’t care about his leg.

“Oh my gosh I just smacked the Picasso.  Oh my gosh.  Oh my gosh.  Look at the painting, I just smashed my hand into the glass.  Did they see?  Did they see me?”

Just then a female guard came running, literally sprinting down the hall toward the Picasso.  She stopped directly in front of it and started waving her arms around in the universal “Who did this?  Who did this?” gesture.  She turned around several times, as if the idiot who assaulted the painting would be standing there ready to be escorted out.

“Keep your head down,” I said to Mike.  “And stop grabbing your leg!  She’s going to put two and two together!”

The woman circled the area once more and then threw her hands in the air in exasperation, as if she had conducted a full investigation and come up empty.

“I can’t believe I just set off the alarm.  Who does that!?” Mike asked me.

I decided the only way to make him feel better was to come clean. 

“Well…” I began.  “At least you didn’t do it on purpose…”

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Filed under AwkWORD (Humor)