Friday, September 15, 2006
All My Princes
When I was six years old, my family lived in southern England for a year. It was a fantastic adventure and education for all of us, and my parents did an excellent job of exposing my sister, brother and me to anything cultural, historical, esoteric or otherwise plain groovy. One afternoon, they took us to a polo match in which Prince Charles was playing. I remember I was in a big royalty/celebrity/autograph-seeking phase, and I was determined to get his autograph, or at least get near him, because, well, you he was a PRINCE and stuff. I didn't get the autograph, but I did get something better -- somehow I got close enough to him where Prince Charles actually stepped on my foot, horse dung and all. I think I was too stunned or embarassed to chase after him with my lame little autograph book. In hindsight, I probably should have just wiped my poo-sullied shoe on an open page instead.
Last night was Don's grand debut with the South Jutland Symphony Orchestra, It was also the first concert with the new conductor, a rather intense Russian fellow whose conducting seems part-marching in place, part Jazzercise. A solo violinist from Russia was also on the bill, and though I ain't no music player, HE WAS AWESOME. Brought down the whole dingdang house! The concert was held in a gymnasium (the new permanent is still under construction) with an aisle down the middle. Before the concert began, everyone rose -- I felt like I was at a wedding. Four people and a couple of photographers came walking in (was this the bride?) and were seated in the front row. I figured it was the mayor or someone like that.
Well, IT WAS THE FREAKING PRINCE OF DENMARK. PRINCE. OF DENMARK. THERE. JOACHIM. THAT GUY. ROYAL. HUGE. PRINCE. GONNA SIT ON THE BIG CHAIR SOMEDAY.
Turns out he's the "protector," or official patron of the orchestra, and he lives nearby in a palace that's rather like a farm. And NO ONE was making a big deal about it! I felt compelled to nudge everyone around me to tell them that The Prince was HERE, among US, COMMONERS. They were so casual about it, like he was the photocopier repair guy or parking attendant or their neighbor (which, I guess he is). I was craning my neck to get a glimpse of this guy, though he's quite ordinary-looking. I'm not sure what I was expecting -- armor, or a chest plate, or maybe a mini-crown or some medals, but he seems like a cool enough dude. During the intermission, I thought he'd at least be whisked away by a security detail, but nope, he just hung out and ate some candy and chilled.
Anyway, after I told a bunch of musicians after the concert about it, their response was along the lines of, "yeah, so?" My flaming excitement cooled then, and I realized how relaxed Danes are about stuff like that. No paparazzi, no autograph hounds -- just a mellow night of beautiful music with a merry errant butterfly dancing over the musicians' heads as they played some Rimsky-Korsikov. No biggie.
Of course, after all this, I still got me a real prince...