When I was little, all I wanted was to be a princess. Just a little castle. Nothing more than a small, four turretted, two-horse stable castle with Prince Charming coming across the moat daily to tell me how fabulous the palace looked or how he would slay the angry dragon in my honor or how I danced beautifully at the ball last night. Maybe I’d entertain the occasional dwarf since I was positive that Happy and Sneezy would live near me. Every few days, I’d change the scenario. A big castle. A coach with some pink ponies. Pink is stupid . . . make them aqua. To hell with Sneezy; he’s causing my chamber maid to do too much work with his ever-loving sneezing. Every once and a while, Prince Charming would morph into a duke or a lord or maybe even Prince Andrew but rarely if ever would he go away altogether.
Eventually, I gave up that dream of being a princess. A girl turns a certain age, and she figures out that she needs to do it on her own. No one – not a single person – is going to come flying to rescue. Any Prince Charming who would tell me how fabulous the palace looked would likely do so because he wanted something. “The house looks beautiful, babe. Oh, Mr. My-big-ass-boss-the-one-you-hate-because-he-makes-fun-of-your-job is coming over tomorrow for a quick work session. Hope that’s ok,” was more likely than, “Man, you really rocked the Macarena last night!” So that princess shit? Truly a fairy tale.
And then she was born. I think the princess gene is imbedded in little girls’ DNA. They see the pink and go bananas for it. Disney makes a killing on little girls and their princess obsession. Not mine, I thought. Oh no, we’re not going through this. So I did everything I could to avoid it and the dreaded shade of pink that goes with almost every princess in the world. But slowly, the pink seeped in. Just a little bow here. Some crowns on her socks. Maybe a little glitter on her nails for a special occasion. But Hello Kitty was the breaking point . . . once she found a Hello Kitty lunch bag, the floodgates to pink were wide open. We had bags and stuffies and tights and hats. Her father even put a Hello Kitty car seat in the back of his car, effectively declaring to the world, “Women run my life . . . you got a problem with that?” Everywhere we went, that damn Hello Kitty lunch bag went with us. Half the time she never even had anything in the bag, and soon it rivaled Bunny-Bunny as her lovie.
It should come as no surprise, then, that anyone with something pink on them would be part of her army. “I like your purse,” she’d comment to a woman on the train. “I like pink, too!” became her battle cry from the back of our van to any passerby wearing her beloved color. Even after her father and I would chide her about talking to strangers, she’d continue to offer her critique of their outfits. “That type of pink is one of my bestest pinks. It’s almost like my gran’s towels,” began one trip to the grocery store. “Macy, leave the lady alone. She has a lot of groceries to buy,” I’d remind her, and yet undeterred, the pink brigade would march forward under the ever-watchful eye of its pipsqueak of a four-star general.
And so, one late fall day, we were walking home from the park, hand in hand, playing the ABC game. She chose songs and was defending her choice for the letter K. “But “Call Me Maybe” does begin with a K. It has the same sound as ‘kitten’ and that begins with K. And so does ‘cat’ because that’s just a mommy kitten, and it’s the same sound, right, Momma?” she questioned. “Well, the sounds are the same, but . . .” and then she saw the hat. “I like your hat. It’s pink. That’s my favorite color,” she called to the woman by the bus stop. “Oh. Thank you,” she mumbled. “It used to be my favorite color, too.” My daughter stopped dead in her tracks. “Used to be? You have another favorite color? Why?” The woman took a deep breath, thought about the question in front of her, and sighed deeply. “Well, I’m not quite sure. Maybe green,” she responded. “Green’s a nice color, but it’s not pink,” Macy said quite rationally. “True. But your hat has green on it, too,” said the woman. “Because it’s a flower. Flowers hafta have green on them. Your bag has flowers with lots of green on them,” Macy pointed out. The woman looked down at her bag, noticing the patches she tried to make look like flowers. The smile that had been forming on her face started to fade as she focused on the new rips allowing the contents of her life to spill out. “Come on, kiddo,” I said, “we really need to get going.” Macy gave a little wave to her newest foot soldier. “Bye! I like the t-shirt in your bag, too,” Macy called out. “It looks like my lunch bag,” and she waved her Hello Kitty bag at the woman.
We walked on past another few store fronts, deciding that just this once “Call Me Maybe” could count for K. “Momma, I need to go tell the pink hat lady something,” and she turned to run back to the bus shelter. By the time I caught up with Macy, she was already coming back to me. “M. Your turn is M, Momma,” she sang out with a smile on her face. One of her empty hands reached up for mine before she started to skip down the street. I turned just in time to see her Hello Kitty bag board the 57 bus for Allston. Something tells me its new owner’s favorite color is pink once again.
“What’s your song, Momma?”
“’My Girl’ . . . my song is “My Girl.” Your turn, sweetie.”