I confess: when I was a little girl, I wanted to grow up to marry Prince Charles. Elizabeth’s boy. Yes, fuddy-duddy ole Chuck with the taxi door ears. He was the object of my fondest daydreams. Or at least the vehicle for it. In my defense, he was a lot better looking– okay, somewhat better looking– when he was young. And he was an RAF (or was that Royal Navy?) pilot and had a jet-set life style. And a few palaces to ramble around in and and a crown in his future. He’s a year or so older than I and was also born in November. I figured we’d be a great match that would bring our two countries that much closer.
Actually, I was not so much enamored with him as I was keen to be a princess– a future queen. Hey, I can hear those snickers–but, I think I’d have made a marvelous queen. Gracious, compassionate, elegant, considerate of underlings and common folk, and stunning in a hat. Or a tiara. More importantly, I loved horses and corgis and being in the spotlight. I could fake a reasonable British accent and got straight A’s in British Lit. So in my mind, I was supremely qualified for the post.
Fortunately for me (not to mention the royal family!) I grew up, forgot Chuck, and fell madly in love with a Wisconsin farm boy turned scientist/professor. Never looked back. A good thing, too. The press would have had a field day with my figure. Charitably, a size 16. Remember how the press crucified the Duchess of York, calling her the Duchess of Pork? I’m such a “pleaser,” I’d have been bulimic in a heartbeat. And then there’s the opera–Charles is a big opera fan and I’d have had to sit through endless hours of Lucia di Lammermoor. Ugh. There would have been ghastly photos of me snoring away in the royal opera box. Then I would have had to pretend to be interested in polo matches and in “shooting holidays” in Scotland. And there would be long-winded dissertations on the hideousness of modern architecture and Sesame Street puppets over dinner. . . every blessed night. I don’t hold my liquor well; one glass of champagne and I’d be ready for a blankie and a nap instead of a gala ball. And imagine being caught sneaking McDonalds bags into Buckingham Palace–or bribing the Coldstream Guards into finding me a peanut butter connection. I shudder to think what our children would have looked like. Prince William should be sending rafts of prayers heavenward every night for his fortune in having such a beautiful and photogenic mother.
Meanwhile, I married well, had two perfectly American kids, and found peace and pleasure in life. I wouldn’t trade any of it for standing in Camilla’s shoes. . . which, I understand, are size 9 or better.
And then there was that dream of marrying “George” from the Beatles. And that dream of being on the Johnny Carson Show as the infamous writer of the book that topped “Valley of the Dolls.” And the dream of being an Olympic figure skater. And of course, the Esther Williams swimming dreams. There’s probably a theme, there, somewhere.
I had a few dreams that didn’t involve being beautiful and marrying rich. . . being a medical missionary in deepest Africa. . . being a great botanical researcher who finds a way to improve crops and feeds the world. . . encountering aliens from other dimensions or planets and introducing them to the world. . . curing disease and helping children grow up healthy, everywhere. There was also a brief dream of being a great Broadway star. . . which mostly involved belting out show tunes playing on the stereo. Now that I’m older and see how people in those professions and positions in life have to live, I’m not at all unhappy that those dreams didn’t come true.
Some of my most important dreams DID come true: finding love, making a family, finding a career that was fulfilling and interesting. Every time I heard the Beatles song “Paperback Writer,” I felt a twinge of yearning. I guess, I always wanted to write and tell stories. . . to have them published and know that they entertain people. . . maybe even educate people. The interesting thing is, when I was young, I would have given that dream about the same chance of coming true as the chance that I would marry Prince Charles. Who knew that someday I’d fulfill that dream in ways and to an extent I would never have imagined?
I’ll never be on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show,” (or Jay Leno’s). I’ll never feed the world with my discoveries or cure cancer or be a queen. But I’ve achieved my dream. . . I’m a paperback writer. . . and darn proud of it.
What about you? What were your early dreams? How did they inspire you? What would you say your dream is now? Are there some dreams you’re glad didn’t come true?