News and Tribune

August 5, 2013

CUMMINS: Knocking on the door to royalty

Local columnist

About 150,000 babies were born today. They were born into poverty or other designations including royalty, a billion-to-one shot. When you came into this world, you screamed, wondering what you had gotten yourself into. You were slimy and hungry until they cleaned and fed you. Then you went to sleep again, fearful you didn’t have the courage to face life’s uncertainty. Your first glance at reality shocked you, but you decided to take another look and find your place somewhere between poverty and royalty.  

If we revere the whole creation process, every baby is born into royalty. A baby is the miracle of miracles, a living mass transformed into what a good life can be. Recently, thousands in the media reported the birth of Prince George (no W) Alexander Louis. Hey, dad (Prince William, third in succession) and mom (Duchess of Cambridge), what’s with my name — you dummies. No, Georgie, you can’t be in line to be a king unless you’re named for other divine-right British kings. Little Georgie took his cricket bat out to the playing fields and hit a little “commoner” cricket player over the head with it.

Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge by decree from high up, is a commoner, or used to be. I’m a commoner, too, with royal aspirations. Aren’t we all? Not kingly royalty, but royal enough — unemployed but filthy rich — to rise from the commoner class to a castle on Windsor Street. Be it known that the Duchess of Cambridge left the hospital wearing a polka-dot blue dress with “a playful pattern, featuring cap sleeves and a gently gathered empire waist.” I’m wearing empire shorts and a tee shirt imprinted, “A Kingdom for Your Horse.” 

You never know when you might rise or fall. I had a fling once with royalty, a brief moment when my wife, teaching on a Fulbright exchange in England, had “The Honour to meet Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales [Diana].” Spouses could tag along, so I flew to London fast, but was instructed to remain in the “periphery.” Remaining in the periphery will get you nowhere. Amidst the attendees dressed in finery, I nonchalantly worked my way up close to the princess. That’s when she turned toward me as if fate had turned to me, too. Was it to be? Although I can’t prove it, I think our eyes met — magical, ephemeral like what floating on clouds with angels must be. Then, honorably, I turned away, and she did, too, both realizing it was not to be.

There are other royal kingdoms in this world. Hunter Mahan is a member of the Royal Golf Society. He avoids stray shots by stroking the golf ball far and straight. I avoid strokes, too, the kind causing me to dream about not hitting a ball into hazards like trees and ponds. Hunter led the Royal Canadian Open when his wife, in labor, called. He had a decision to make, win a million dollars, or suggest she had indigestion. Hunter did the honorable thing, but it was hard for him. Fathers do not fully understand the part mothers play in the miracle baby thing. Mothers cannot understand why a golfer thinks his next swing might project a silly ball into an empty cup. Shouldn’t we all strive to run our cups over? When my babies came, my cup flooded me.

The things we go through to make a baby. Why? It hit me when we brought our babies home. Wide awake on the pillow, I thought, wow, there’s another human being in this room, a new one, better than royalty, that’s mine. I then slept with the assurance that the little one’s soul was safe if I did my part. If not, I’d lose mine.

Four babies are born every second, and 2,000 were born in the United Kingdom, the same day George was born. One in three of those were born in poverty next door to George. Worldwide, 24,000 babies die each day from the effects of poverty. What is their chance — to rise or survive? In the U.S., the richest nation on earth, 16 million of our children live in poverty. It seems the royalty in Washington would do something about it. They won’t, because the Dukes of State don’t do much about the commoner problem I know of.

God made so many of us commoners we must be his favorites, humbly lined up to enter heaven’s royalty. On earth, it’s fake.


— Contact Terry Cummins