My husband and I began our relationship as a long distance one. He was living in the Bahamas and I in New York. So it happened we were far apart on my birthday, the first one that fell shortly after we met. I celebrated without him by going to dinner with some friends.
New York city can be a tough place to impress people, but my husband managed that night, to say nothing of how he managed to thrill me. Because as my friends and I were in the middle of dinner, two waiters in the restaurant came to our table, carrying a stunning and enormous bouquet of 100 long stemmed pink roses. For me. You could literally hear the gasps from the surrounding tables – the entire room stopped dining like in an EF Hutton commercial (for my non-American readers – a famous ad campaign in which people stopped in their tracks as a voiceover announced ‘when EF Hutton talks, people listen.’)
Then came the overheard comments. Those from the women were mostly along the lines of ‘Ohhh!!!’ ‘How beautiful!’ ‘So romantic!’ etc. Most of the men grumbled it was ‘over the top’ ‘better to send a dozen a few different times’ and ‘what a waste, all going to die.’ In short, my husband’s gesture resulted in a restaurant divided. (And – final note to the non-romantics, although the roses did of course perish after a few days, my wonderful memory of them has never faded.)
So I was thinking of this story this past week. Like New York, Monaco can be a difficult place in which to impress, and unlike New York, it is a village. As Monaco gears up for the wedding of Prince Albert and Charlene Wittstock it is a village divided. The resident villagers gossip endlessly. Along which lines depends, like that New York restaurant so many years ago, on one’s perspective. One can choose to believe in the romance, or one can look at it as staged.
There is plenty to fuel both viewpoints. Residents are justifiably tired after the Grand Prix and the hectic month of June. Rumors abound, and like in any village, one has only to go to a local hair salon to get the full scoop – ranging from the fantastic to the yes-so-I’ve-already-heard. With a major event coming up, tourists are invading in numbers far beyond the usual summer amounts. Local life is again disrupted. Even the legendary order is in slight upheaval, as all parking tickets between now and July 1st are forgiven.
But, as I said, it depends how you look at it. There happens to be quite the party planned. An Eagles Concert, offered to Monegasques, residents and locals, conveniently falls on the last day of school, kicking off both summer holidays and the wedding weekend. The next night Jean Michel Jarre is giving a sound and light performance over the main port for everyone, which promises to be fantastic. And then there is the religious ceremony on the 2nd, providing me with my first ever occasion to wear a hat along the lines of some of those amazing creations at Kate and Will’s wedding. Needless to say, I fall into the ‘excited about it’ camp.
As for what makes a marriage, that only concerns two people, and not a single one of the villagers, tourists and onlookers. I personally wish both Prince Albert and Charlene the very best and only hope for they will be as happy together as my husband and I have been in these many years since he sent those roses to a restaurant in New York.