This is not a knock on Logan Airport, Charlie Baker, or City Hall. But has anyone ever looked so delighted to see any of them?
But there was Princess Catherine of Wales on Wednesday afternoon, straight off an international commercial flight, positively beaming her way through our airport. Looking absolutely thrilled to meet the governor. Appearing charmed to stand on a stage on a stormy City Hall Plaza and theatrically push a button to illuminate City Hall in green light.
Never mind that most of us have no idea what Kate’s voice sounds like, or what she’s thinking behind that relentlessly cheerful facade. Or that she enjoys an unfair advantage because she not only has naturally good hair, but reportedly travels with a hairstylist — and gets to check an extra bag.
Has anyone ever so perfectly mastered her countenance?
The only time Kate breaks character is when she encounters a force that no parent can withstand — one’s own publicly misbehaving child (most famously, 4-year-old Prince Louis’s challenging behavior during the Queen’s June 2022 Platinum Jubilee).
But at all other times she’s almost aggressively ecstatic to be wherever she is: at a scouting event, costumed in a drab vest and little striped tie. Hitting the bottom of a children’s slide — in high heels. Playing field hockey. Decked out in a life preserver. Dancing with Paddington Bear. Trying to free her stiletto from grating.
Sure, some people do not like the idea of a monarchy, and Market Basket shoppers in Somerville were worried about the traffic a royal visit might cause. But putting larger issues aside, I wondered if my own life would be enhanced if I were to greet everything my family and others said to me with sheer joy.
I popped my head into my son’s room. “What are you up to today?” I asked. “I’ve got a meeting at 2,” he said, “and one at 3.”
I clasped my hands in extreme enthusiasm, as if I were reacting in real time to a tie-breaking World Cup goal. My face was a study in glee. I should have been on a Jumbotron.
He looked confused, so I ramped up the ardor. “Are you having a stroke?” he asked.
Get with the royal family, I thought as I held my plastered smile and demurely exited the room.
I initiated a conversation with my husband, and went into full rapture as he answered a mundane question.
“What’s going on?” he asked, with a mix of concern, confusion, and (understandable) spousal suspicion that he was about to have something sprung on him.
Who was the problem here — them or me? Maybe I wasn’t going far enough. It’s not like Kate’s face is smiling while the rest of her is sloppy. Her hands are always held just so, one often politely resting on top of the other, her feet are always . . . neat . . . is the word that comes to mind.
I groomed myself and then very politely knocked on my other son’s door — the hushed rap of an underling. My body language was deferential. My posture said, “I am your servant” (even while your tax dollars fund the Sovereign Grant that helps fund my lifestyle).
I smiled a deep and silent hello. “What’s up?” he said, slightly annoyed. I gave a delighted little gasp, which only further muddied the situation from his perspective. “Are you . . . what are you doing?”
I retreated to my chambers to regroup. Maybe the change was too sudden for people who actually know me. I needed to try it out on the public.
But where to go? I thought about the key components of a typical Kate outing. She’s visiting a nonprofit or a charity, and her mission is to learn about and, with her presence, honor the work they’re doing. Or she’s crouched at a child’s level, listening patiently. Or she’s gazing at a document or a photograph, as interested as a scholar.
I left my home and came upon an elderly housing apartment building, and I struck up a conversation with a woman who was working the desk, inquiring about the services the building provided and — crucially — smiling with appreciation at her explanation. “Have a great day!” she cried cheerfully as I left.
Back on the sidewalk, I was heading toward a father whose kids had gone to grade school with mine years ago. By now we have fallen into an almost painful nodding relationship. But I took on the expression of someone who’s waiting for a long-lost relative to arrive at Logan. He returned my friendly greeting. A new pal!
My next natural stop would have been a playground, but I feared I might seem suspicious, so I continued along until I came up behind two mothers, one holding a young child in her arms. The baby was facing me but the mom wasn’t, so I smiled and waved — like Kate doing a caricature of herself.
It was nice bringing such joy, but it was also starting to get a bit old, so I abruptly cut off the fun with the child, leaving him bewildered.
Sorry kid, but in the end, this ain’t no fairy tale after all. It’s journalism.