Oh, to be Ordinary!

A guest post by Betsy Jordan, who just happens to be my best and favorite daughter, who is not, and has never been, ordinary. Enjoy.

"Long and long ago, when Oberon was king of the fairies, there reigned over the fair country of
Phantasmorania a monarch who had six beautiful daughters." So begins one of my favorite childhood books - The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye. I actually have lots of "favorite childhood books," and frequently have trouble figuring out exactly which one is my true favorite at any given moment. But lately, I've been feeling nostalgic and have rediscovered the joys of Princess Amy - actually, Her Serene and Royal Highness Princess Amethyst Alexandra Augusta Araminta Adelaide Aurelia Anne.

Poor Princess Amy. You see, she was the seventh princess born to her parents. When her fairy godmother came to the christening she took pity on the little baby surrounded by such a perfectly lovely royal family and gave her a unique gift. Her
proclamation - "You shall be Ordinary." Not ravishingly beautiful, wonderfully clever, prodigiously musical, or even the possessor of a great personality. Nope. She would be ordinary. And as Princess Amy grew up, the ramifications of her "gift" became obvious - mousy brown hair that wouldn't curl, freckles, and a turned up nose would be hers. I kind of knew how she felt, too. I had always wanted to be a princess, but they were so... so... unachievable. Breathtakingly beautiful with perfect complexions, beautiful hair and teeth, sweet natured with little musical laughs, etc. You know what I mean. Finally - finally! - I had found a princess that felt a lot like me.

Although she was still very much loved by her family, Princess Amy was pretty much left up to her own devices. She discovered at a young age that she could climb down a wisteria outside her window and run off into the forest to play anytime she wished. I always wanted to be able to do that very same thing, but there were never any big trees outside my first-floor bedroom, nor any forests full of "dappled deer, the frolicsome rabbits, and little gentle woodland creatures" to run off into. One thing I did have, however, was a vivid imagination. So I would run off with Princess Amy and together we would "do such exciting things" and pity her six perfect sisters ("oh! what a lot of fun they miss by not being me," Amy would say).

Over time, Amy and I grew up. Her sisters all got married and it was her turn, except that no one was
interested in Amy. "One after another, after their first shocked look at the Ordinary Princess, they hurriedly remembered previous engagements. They apologized for having to make such a brief stay and said that if they should ever happen to be passing that way again they would of course drop in. After which they would pack their luggage and hurry away the very next morning." The suitor situation got so desperate, her father even considered hiring a dragon to lay waste to the country so they could marry Princess Amy off to whoever vanquished the dragon. Once again, Amy and I seemed to be kindred spirits. My friends and family were all getting married, having children, and going on to their own happily-ever-afters. While no one was offering to hire a dragon to help ME out, neither Princess Amy nor I would have been too happy with that solution. You see, Amy ran away. And oh, how I wished I could go with her!

Amy and I discovered the joys and pains of that four-letter-word all ordinary people become
intimately acquainted with - w.o.r.k. We both learned that single girls don't make much, and that it can be kind of lonely on your own. I envied Amy her two new friends - a squirrel named Mr. Pemberthy and a crow, Peter Aurelious. MY landlord didn't allow pets.

And, in time, Amy and I both found what we had really been looking for all along - our prince. Mine came in the guise of a business customer at the bank where I was working, and Amy's, well, that's her story. Needless to say, both our stories turned out well, and our princes sound remarkably similar... "And indeed a more ordinary person...you could not wish to see. His velvet doublet was stained with moss and rather torn where he had caught it on a branch while climbing an oak tree to pick acorns. His hair was very ruffled and full of bits of bark, and he had a smudge on his nose." Amy's prince built her a little cottage in the woods, and my prince and I are saving up for ours.

I guess that, in the end, Princess Amy says it best. "'This has been quite the nicest day of my life,' thought the Ordinary Princess. And she thought, too, that the nice young man was easily the nicest person she had ever met. 'It's because he is an ordinary sort of person - like me,' she decided."

Here's to being ordinary!

Read Well, Friend


beth said...

Well, that sure convinces me! I'm adding it to my Amazon cart RIGHT NOW! Thanks for the rec!

Betsy Jordan said...

I hope you enjoy it, Beth! I checked it out of the library and read it so many times growing up that I wouldn't be surprised if I wore the binding right off... BTW, the author illustrated the book (but not the new cover), and her drawings are priceless! Enjoy

Cara Powers said...

Oh, this post is just too sweet. You and your mother are both extraordinary. I want to read this book right now. Thanks. I think I'm tearing up.


Betsy Jordan said...

Thanks, Cara! Although it's technically a children's book, I strongly recommend that anyone who still enjoys a good fairy tale buy a copy. It's one you'll want to reread over and over!

plainolebob said...

how absolutely wonderful, and you told it and tied it together so well. come visit me some time i amke all mine up.

Betsy Jordan said...

Thanks, Bob. I laughed my way through your post about the pool... sounds like something my husband would do! LOL

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