Saturday, June 2, 2007

The Big Prince

How do you like my new blog art? The Prince made it for me because that’s the kind of guy he is; talented, selfless, and puffed up like a rooster over his gorgeous kids. At first he didn’t want their pictures flying around cyberspace for any perv or murderer to examine, but his growing awe at the very luminousness of his own offspring has recently outrun his paranoia.

(As a matter of fact, an X of his, a warm and hilarious woman, actually has a huge rooster for a pet; scant substitute, I say! My dear, you must eat that thing and move on!)

“I don’t get this,” the Prince said, staring at the kids, misty-eyed, “they’re sooooo … beautiful…” Meanwhile M launched trucks around the living room and H laid on a blanket, gurgling and spitting up on herself. “I mean, you and I,“ he went on, “at best, have… off-beat good looks…and that was before, when we were slim, and got sleep…”

It’s true; pretty people we are not. Nor were we exactly catalogue material as children, either. He was all teeth and elbows, and I was a slightly lopsided butterball with perpetually sticky hands and one eye bigger than the other. We had darling personalities, of course… but…

Anyway tomorrow is our 2-year anniversary. Yup, that’s it; 2 years. We got married 8 days before M was born, mostly to satisfy my father and his mother.

“Um, don’t you think it would be helpful, I mean, if something went wrong, or, I mean, for the birth certificate, if you, of course you two know best, but maybe…” said my poor mother-in-law, who would rather have hives than step on our toes, being as she is the kindest, most tactful, and optimistic person currently living.

“It’s a shonda b’leiten!” muttered my father, who M now calls Papa, “a baby and not married.” ‘A shame for the people to see.’ That’s why he hadn’t told my uncle, my aunt, or any of the thousand or so other people in our extended family. Not that he wasn’t delighted; it’s just that evil eye, you know. I forget that he wasn’t born here, at least his soul wasn’t.

“Why can’t he take a compliment about his grandchildren?” I recently whined at a cousin. “People say ‘congratulations’ to him about H, and he says, ‘I had nothing to do with it!’ It’s so weird! Or they say, ‘How are your grandchildren?’ and he says, ‘They’re 8 feet tall and they speak 5 languages!’ I think it’s very hostile,” I went on, complaining at expansive, excessive length, a specialty of mine.

“Whatsamatta with you,” growled my relative. “It’s bad luck in the old country to get a compliment. You’re lucky he doesn’t spit on the floor.”

A point.

Meanwhile, The Prince’s father wasn’t worried about it. Grandpa B believes in The Prince, wholeheartedly. He is a steady man of sense and reserve, a man who works with his hands even now at 71, and will likely move on to the next plane of existence with a grease-black fist full of nuts and bolts, a man who loves like he works; consistently, patiently, and without fanfare. He was certain that The Prince knew what he was doing, marrying a loud, bitchy woman he’d known for less than 6 months and accidentally knocked up. Not everybody’s dad can support that.

Maybe he was just hoping for the best. The Prince’s not-too-boastable history with mates made up for with masochistic endurance what it lacked in variety, the polar opposite of Yours Truly’s trail of bloody limbs, some of her own included, emotio-logically speaking, of course. Meanwhile our clocks were ticking, loud.

We actually met on-line. The Prince’s remarkable nose stuck formidably out from under his chic shades in the middle of his picture and I thought he was Jewish. I myself did not put up an ad, I lurked. I was hunting husbands, after all, and I had no time to waste. Other candidates had included a brilliant and funny journalist I almost adored except that he weighed 300 pounds and lived with his mother and nine cats and ate salad with his fingers; and a comedian who, when I coyly touched his hand across the table over drinks, screamed, “No no no! Too soon for touching!” and jerked his arm away so suddenly that he fell over backward in his chair.

About to give up, I took one more cruise on the web that night, and there was The Prince, standing ruggedly on the lunar landscape of Idaho while visiting friends out there, big hiking boots on his big feet at the end of his long, cowboy legs, a video camera balanced on his shoulder and a goony grin I would grow to relish, under his big beak.

“That’s it,” I remember thinking, as I furiously typed a response, “that’s the one. I want that one.” I wrote something incoherent about my great sense of humor and my big boobs and he called me the next night.

I almost didn’t get him, though we had a great first date and a precious first kiss on the subway, and I thought we were off and running. He was shy but he wasn’t afraid of me. He was profoundly intelligent but never showed off or spoke out of turn. He was, and is, very handsome, with blue eyes and silver streaked hair and great shoulders, and still doesn’t know that, and he has a way of looking at his shoes and smiling while reveling in my attention, and the smuttier I get the more ‘awe shux’ he still becomes, this sinewy old horn-dog. He’s from California, and lopes like it, with a mile long stride in his Chuck Taylors and a high, muscular butt lost somewhere in his Levi’s, perennially seventeen. Boy, was I sweet on him.

But the X he had moved out here for haunted me, half my size, half my age, with a fat paycheck and a pretty face like a china tea cup. The Prince did little to reassure me, I thought, though probably the only gesture that would have assuaged my insecurity would have been matrimony… but at the time I said, to a very close female friend of his, “He’s going to get strong on me, and then leave.”

“He’s not,” she said to me. “You don’t know him. Give him a chance.”

And then an X of my own suddenly appeared, literally stumbling out the door of a bar and into us while we were out on a date. He was a charming and witty drunk who couldn’t hold a job but who always had made me feel like the star of a movie about a preposterous fantasy of the bohemian lifestyle I dreamed of as a teen, that would in reality have looked a lot more like something off COPS in the final analysis, except with books about post-modernism and old issues of The Onion lying around amongst the empty beer bottles.

For a moment, the X and I went on dates. We saw “Coffee And Cigarettes” and X raved about it over burritos I paid for. I thought Jarmusch was a charlatan but kept it to myself.

Meanwhile The Prince was visiting his parents in California. He called me that night (afternoon in Cali) from an outdoor antique car show he was at with his dad.

He held his cell phone up in the air so I could listen to the marching band.

“Can you hear the parade?” he shouted.

I could.

We alligator-wrestled the relationship all summer. In September we decided to get away for a weekend, so we took my dog to Cape Cod, hoping to find out something, though I don’t remember what. I took the opportunity to torture both of us by asking repetitive and detailed questions about the pretty, young X, and he got me back by answering them. I seethed all weekend. Yet somehow, we also managed to get pregnant with M though of course we wouldn’t know that for another month.

I felt fat days later and lost track of my period. My bras shrank. The Prince and I decided we should take one last break from each other and make a decision after his parents’ visit in October. The days passed slowly. I wasn’t doing much of anything except smoking and bitching to my best friends. But I felt funny. And my period never arrived. And I took three home-pregnancy-tests and they were all positive.

I broke into a cold sweat and remained there for a week. The Prince’s parents were in town. I had no actual intention of having a termination, but I scheduled one at a nearby clinic because I knew I could get a cheap sonogram the same day, and I needed to see the heartbeat. But I told my father I wasn’t sure what I would do, because I didn’t know how he would take anything else. He drove me to the clinic, without comment of any kind, because he loves me.

“Before we go through with the procedure,” said the technician, “I need to show you this sonogram, and you need to sign this document stating that you understand what you are seeing and what the procedure means.”

But I could feel my face glowing and tears were streaming down my cheeks. She waited for me to answer her but I just sat there, staring.

“You’re not having this abortion, are you,” she said.

“Nope!” I said, and I skipped out of the place and threw my cigarettes in a city garbage bin. Then I called The Prince from my cell. It was 9:00 on a Saturday morning.

“What are you doing?” I sputtered.

“Uh, my parents and I are about to go out to breakfast,” he said.

“Don’t,” I said. “Meet me on your corner in 20 minutes.”

I hailed a big Lincoln Town Car cab and we fishtailed along Queens Boulevard at warp speed because I told the driver I had big news to tell my boyfriend! As we careened along I prepared my speech. When I got out at his corner, The Prince was standing there looking just plain happy to see me.

“Hi,” he said goofily, almost as if he knew something was up.

“I’m pregnant,” I said, “and you can-“

But he cut me off by opening up his face into that giant grin, then slapping his hand over his own mouth because he didn’t know if I wanted him to be happy or not.

“Why are you smiling?” I asked him, smiling.

“I don’t know,” he mlffphed from behind his hand.

Laughing now but not to be robbed of my Moment, I went on bizarrely with my speech, something about him coming along or not, and as I babbled he put his arms around me, and then I cried and then he cried and then we went upstairs and told his parents and his mom cried and his dad was happy and not all that surprised, and even my father was happy when we called him, at least he was relieved someone would be taking me off his hands and that I would have something to do other than just hang around his place, smoking with my big ugly dog.

It was the best thing that ever happened to me, and I had never imagined being as happy as I was the day I realized that The Prince and I were going to spend the rest of our lives together, and we kind of owe it all to M. And Little H is the icing on the cake.

Because The Prince is, and I say this without apology, a truth. He is a standard for men. He is honest all the time about everything. He has a full range of human emotions that he never hides, able to cry and wanting and willing to laugh in the same moment. He’s masculine without machismo, he’s gentle without being a sissy, he’s careful but not fearful, he’s modest but he knows he’s the original Great Guy. He loves his children, misses them all day and washes them and feeds them and kisses them at night. I wish I could clone him because I would make a LOT of money and then he could stop working and stay home with me and the gang all day. If I am very, VERY lucky, M will grow up just like him, and H will look for a person like her dad to marry and will have a bunch of kids before I’m too old to help her out and be a major pain in her ass.

And meanwhile, for our anniversary tomorrow, The Prince will probably make me one of his lovely cards; a picture of the kids I haven’t seen yet with a sweet caption, which will take its place in a plain glass frame alongside the rest, which are scattered along the walls of this one-bedroom apartment, where the three luckiest people in the world live with the guy who made them that way, and their big, smelly dog, who also wants to marry him. He may also stuff me full of sushi then have his way with me if the kids stay asleep, unless we pass out on top of each other. Which would also be fine by me.

Shortly after M was born, I bought these little figurines of The Little Prince, my favorite story, about a pilot whose plane breaks down on a tiny planet inhabited only by a tiny little prince and his friend, the flower. The Little Prince teaches the pilot invaluable life lessons, not least of which is about himself and a fox. If you tame me, the fox tells the Little Prince, I will tell you my secret. And with quiet patience and very gentle friendship, the Little Prince tames the fox.

“And now I will tell you my secret,” says the fox. “You are responsible forever for what you have tamed.”

Lucky for me, forever is a long, long time, and my prince is no little boy.

No comments: