"Monkeys in a cage!"
That's what my father would say every Sunday after we returned home from mass. We'd be sitting down to brunch at our dining table -- which faced the street -- just as the Hollywood tour buses began streaming through Beverly Hills. Then we'd hear the tour guide through his megaphone: "And here's the house of TV star Danny Thomas!"
That's when Dad would get up, lower the blinds and talk about monkeys.
Growing up in the Hollywood fishbowl is one thing -- but it's nothing compared to the breathless frenzy surrounding the lives of Britain's royal family. If we were the monkeys, they're the gorillas. Didja hear the news that Princess Kate and Prince William had a baby boy this week? He even knocked Anthony Weiner off the front page.
God, how we love the royals. Funny, because our country's whole existence is based on the desire to break away from the throne. Yet we're always looking for our own royalty. We like to talk about our dynasties (the Bushes) and our royal family of Camelot (the Kennedys). It's clear that, for all the revolutionary blood that was shed, we are in a perpetual state of Royal Envy.
There are no carriages taking us to our weddings. No beefeaters guarding our houses. Who wouldn't enjoy a little of that pomp and pageantry now and then?
But I think it's more than all that: It's the dependable Easter egg-colored suit. And the matching hat. And the ever-present, stiff little bag on her arm. It's the Queen, the shining symbol of consistency in a world that too often seems to be spinning out of control.
Here across the pond, we recognize how the Queen, in her own crisp way, provides comfort for her subjects -- that enviable historical and emotional connection. Prime ministers come and go, wars begin and end, styles are in and out, and yet she has been there for 60 years. Face it, the lady is on the money. Literally.
And we crave that. Why else would we all flock to see every Helen Mirren depiction of Her Highness? Why else would "The King's Speech" storm our theatres and seduce Oscar? And why else would we all be holding our breath until "Downton Abbey" opens its castle doors for another season? We may be Americans, but deep down our blood is royal blue.
So, for all those who are rolling their eyes at the media hype, there are those of us who are enjoying it all as the come-to-life embodiment of the fairy tales that enchanted us when we were children.
Congratulations Catherine and William. Welcome Baby George. And a special bow to Great-Grandma. I can't wait for the christening so I can see your new hat.