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Lunch hours filled with tales of Lady Di and her fairytale romance

Noteworthy mention in the 1983 Reader Writing Contest

I think my belief in fairy tales and happy endings was renewed during my junior year at Our Lady of Peace, a local private high school. Like so many others, I was caught up in a love affair with royalty that began with the engagement of Prince Charles and the Lady Diana.

But unlike most people, my high-school girlfriends and I were not content simply to view the royal romance from behind a newspaper. We followed the royal couple’s progress religiously, knew every available detail of their lives, and would recite the same at the slightest provocation. Our lunch hours were filled with tales of Lady Di and her picture-perfect romance, the latest royal photos, and envious scrutiny of all her clothes. Entranced with the adventure, we lived, vicariously, the life of British royalty.

The wedding itself was cause for a celebration in my group (although we never needed an excuse for a party), and we made elaborate preparations for an overnight “wedding party” of our own. On the night of the wedding (which aired here at 3:30 a m.) we gathered at Monica’s house to eat dinner and partake of a full-sized wedding cake, complete with crowning figurines. We had rice to throw, and the all-important videotape recorder documented the entire event for those of us (no names, please) who fell asleep during the ceremony.

But after the wedding, we suddenly had nothing in the way of of royal happenings to look forward to. We still followed reports of the Prince and new Princess, still studied her clothes in photographs, still envied her clothing allowance, but most of our enthusiasm was gone. At least until the announcement of the princess’s pregnancy!

We were ecstatic. We couldn’t have asked for anything more exciting, and we bustled about like so many proud grandmothers, plunging headlong into our own preparations for the event. Our interest renewed tenfold, we could only imagine the thrill of royal motherhood.

I don’t remember whose idea it was, but we decided to hold what was affectionately dubbed, “the pregnant party.’’ The idea was to have a “baby shower” of our own, and to dress as though we were all pregnant. We began making “shower invitations,” compiled a list of needed foods that included pickles and ice cream, picked out our “maternity” clothes, and discussed the virtues of royal Pampers. And on the prearranged day, my neighbors were greeted with a peculiar sight: eleven high-school girls in various stages of “pregnancy” (including one that looked about three months overdue)! We compared notes on our “babies ” and quickly decided that being pregnant was not as glamorous as it looked on the princess. We laughed and took pictures of each other (for comparison at a much later date, we said) and helped ourselves to a table of food, in the center of which was a small tree decorated with plastic babies and pink and blue bows contributed by my mother. We enlisted the help of my father for some group pictures, then settled down to some belly-bopping a la B-52s.

There is a tradition at all of our parties: the ordering of pepperoni pizza. At my house we generally order from the college-area Domino’s and ask them to deliver. So, true to form, I phoned in our order and gave them our address. No sooner had I hung up than I remembered our “condition.” I reminded the group of this. What would the delivery person think?

Since we’d gone so far already, we decided to continue our game. Ideas were pooled and soon it was agreed that we would pretend there was a private Lamaze class in session. We grabbed pillows and blankets to lay out on the floor and hastily designed a sign that read “Lamaze class 40-D.” We tacked that to the front door and then collected the required amount of money for our pizza. Monica went into her false labor act and we all started laughing. Then, not twenty minutes since I’d placed the order, the doorbell rang. A quick glance confirmed the Domino’s car was in our driveway. We took our places —but who would open the door?

“I’m not going to!’’

“You do it!’’

“Forget it — I’m not either! ’’

“Don’t look at me,’’ everyone whispered.

“Annette should do it — it’s her house,’’ someone said, and the suggestion was echoed by a chorus of whispered “yeahs.’’

I had no choice, so I opened the door just as the bell rang for the second time. A young man was standing there, pizzas in hand. As I opened the screen door, I noticed the money was not near the door where it had been, and several grinning faces told me it had been removed on purpose. There was nothing else to do but invite him in while I attempted to locate the money.

I will never forget the look on that man’s face as he entered the room to find ten girls sprawled on the floor, panting. Monica was wailing in a corner, attended by Jan (who looked very much on the verge of labor herself). Someone snapped a picture of me and the startled man, and then Nora quietly handed me the missing money. I paid him and he handed me the pizzas.

“Which one of you is due first?” he asked, a question we had not anticipated.

“Uh, we don’t really know,” was my hesitant answer.

“Well, good luck with it,” he said as he turned to leave. We smiled at each other, convinced we had him fooled. But just as he was about to step outside, he turned and pointed to Andrea in the center of the room and said, “By the way, your pillow’s too high.”

I shut the door quickly and leaned against it. Andrea turned beet-red and then we all burst into an uncontrollable fit of laughter. Tears rolled down our faces as we writhed on the floor, trying to rid ourselves of the telltale pillows. We spent the rest of the party as slimmer people.

Other writing contest winners: Winner | Honorable Mention | Noteworthy

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