Twists of Fate

It shouldn’t surprise me, as little sense of direction as I have and as seldom as I have an inkling where my path is leading, that I end up in some weird and completely unpredictable spots at times. Take the time I was at a luncheon with the queen and king of Norway. It’s entirely safe to say that they forgot the occasion right about the minute their motorcade zipped off with its Secret Service escort to ship them back to the White House for their next performance. Having lunch with a bunch of foreign academics, even if it’s coupled with getting a doctoral degree (Queen Sonja was receiving an honorary doctorate for her humanitarian work) and having a permanent outdoor sculpture dedicated in your honor is so yesterday. Like that kind of stuff doesn’t happen to royals every day of the week. I, on the other hand, don’t have that sort of thing occur very regularly in my life and found the events of the day pretty memorable.

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(Left to Right: King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway; Pacific Lutheran University President Loren Anderson; Gene and Esther Grant, donors; the Rev. David Wold, Bishop and university board Chairman; li’l ol’ me, sculpture designer; David Keyes, professor and chief fabricator of the sculpture; Frank Jennings and other assorted faculty and board representatives. That’s the sculpture, Generations of Oak, behind me.)

It was amusing to take part in the bizarre hoopla that takes place when an assembled group of citizens in a country that takes itself far too seriously as being above such things as royal-worship (erm, Have you not looked into the mirror, O nation of celebrity-slavish fools?) gets a chance to suck up to the high and mighty of another nation. To experience the hilariously artificial and probably pointless stiltedness of security instruction from our friends the Feds; to shake hands with other humans who have been designated super-important and wonder why they would bother to shake hands with me–or, admittedly, I with them–and to hear all of the earnest speech-making and watch the well-meaning maneuvers; all of this was really educational indeed. That it was so for me in the context of the university where I taught was certainly not lost on me. I almost felt like I should get some undergraduate credit in sociology or anthropology for being involved in my little way.

But I’ll admit that most of all, it was entertaining to realize that through no particular virtue of my own I had once again stood in a spot that others might envy and reaped unearned rewards that would remain in my memory-book for a long time to come. Just call me Lucky.

25 thoughts on “Twists of Fate

    • Thank you, Nia–it was a long time ago now, but I still enjoy remembering it. As I said, I certainly didn’t get to participate through any particular virtue or value of my own, but it was fun to be in the midst of it, observing, all the same! πŸ˜€
      Love,
      Kathryn

  1. I will call you Lucky and sometimes, even though we don’t desire certain moments, they are still fun to experience and great for the memory book, too! Congrats, you talented Lady, you! Many hugs!

    • You won’t be surprised to know that there was much consternation on the part of the contingent I was in as we were being instructed by the Secret Service on protocols and everyone was *so* fearful about How to Behave. In the end, the answer was just to be polite (or as close to it as we could manage). Oh, and ‘don’t touch the Queen’s hair’!! I would’ve fallen off me chair laughing except that since the occasion *did* include hooding her in her new doctoral gear, it *was* a little unnerving for the members of the party who had to maneuver said stole over her head and shoulders in the event. Fortunately, her helmet-like hairspray withstood any interventions on their part and her regal personage suffered no insults. πŸ˜‰ As for me, I was simply offered handshakes by both when I got up to meet the royals, so my mediocre curtseying skills were never exposed to the tender sensibilities of those present!

  2. I have to laugh a little about this. Of course it’s fun to experience – and I say that being not very pro-kings and queens, particularly not in a presumably civilized, modern and democratic society as Norway. So I guess we are all a little bit ambiguous about this. πŸ™‚ Nevertheless I love your socio-anthropological approach to the experience.

    • It’s always interesting and often rather amusing to be the ‘fly on the wall’ no matter what Important Stuff is happening around me. The truth is that despite all claims to be democratic, few Americans don’t have a largish amount of craving for royalty. Ours just get called celebrities, but whether they’re performing artists, athletes, the wealthy, politicians or any other sort of ‘special’ people, they have the privileges and power that we give them because we always go overboard with our admiration.

      In some ways, it seems to me that many modern monarchies are more sensible than American democracy simply because the populace in, say, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Britain and such have figured out the difference between being born to a title and being elected to it and are a little better at letting the hereditary powers do their emblematic and social duties and the elected, more of the governing ones. Of course, that may just show my ignorance at how it *really* works elsewhere, but I’ll stand by my generalization about American royal-worship! I’ll be very interested to see how Solberg does in office in Norge, by the way.

      • I think there is quite something in what you say when it comes to the royal families. At the same time of course there are people in Northern Europe as well who admire the royals out of proportion. As for attitudes towards celebrities I am not sure the difference is that big, though.

  3. For those of us not officially in the public eye to find ourselves, however tangentially, involved in a moment of history is special, even if we know our role is not big deal … even if the event is really no big deal. It’s a big deal for us so enjoy the memories. I just did, vicariously.

    • I’m glad you had fun reading my odd little story. There’s something strange and wonderful in nearly every day if we step back to have a semi-dispassionate look at it! Happy to have you here. πŸ™‚

  4. Pingback: Let’s Talk about Art! | Art-Colored Glasses

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