I have a great story I love to tell about a dear friend.
One of Tony's graduate students, used to have us and his fellow graduates over to his parent's house for an annual barbecue and swim party. The student had a sister-in-law and at one of these parties, I saw her pass through the yard. She was beautiful and exotic looking. Later, the graduate student told Tony that his sister-in-law was a princess from an island off the coast of Africa.
The story was like a magnet to this woman, because in every way, she fit the description of what I perceived as a princess. Since we live in a somewhat small town, I would see her every once in a while. Once it was at the grocery store with her three beautiful children. I always felt a little awe; I had never known a princess before.
Years passed and one day, I realized the princess had moved into our neighborhood! It was easy to get to know her; she was open, kind, and didn't have any of the socially exclusive behavior I would expect of a princess. After getting to know her, I felt comfortable to ask her about her princess status.
She laughed. Unsure why her brother-in-law had told the story, but it wasn't true. After all those years, it was disheartening to learn the truth.
This is the story I love to tell our mutual friends; it always ends the same: everyone agreeing it doesn't matter whether or not she has an "official" princess title, because she still a princess in our eyes.
Tonight's rendition of the story, told to a table of female friends, ended in the usual way, but it was punctuated with another thought,
"What if," I posed, "We thought of all our friends as princesses?" It was barely dusk; the weather was perfect, the food was splendid, the company divine, and together we sat in the garden surrounded by love, beauty, and twinkling lights. It wasn't at all hard to imagine that everyone was royalty.