Although my wife got up early Saturday to watch the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, I did not, because I simply don’t care about royalty in the UK. Or anywhere else, for that matter. Plus, I hate pomp (and circumstance) of any size. And it made no difference to me that the bride is an American.
There are some 320 million of us in this country, and unless I’m directly related to or close friends with them, I am completely apathetic towards their personal lives and events, including weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, commencements, quinceañeras, anniversaries, and births. They hold no interest for me, and the fact that they’re from my country or my town doesn’t change that fact.
I don’t root for someone in the Olympics just because they’re from the St. Louis area, any more than I root for Jon Hamm or Jenna Fischer because they were brought up around here. I don’t know them, never even interviewed them, so what impact does their success have on my life? Don’t get me wrong — if they do a TV show or movie that I enjoy, I’m happy, but for having had a pleasant entertainment experience, not because of the geography of their childhood.
I went to the same high school as Michael Crichton and enjoyed many of his books and movies, but those are independent facts. I didn’t read or watch them because we were both educated in the same building several years apart. I did so because he was a hell of a storyteller, the same criterion I used for devouring books by Scott Turow or movies by Martin Scorsese, neither of whom grew up anywhere near my hometown.
The other night, I was watching one of the late-night shows when the guest mentioned he’d recently been to Chicago. Several people in the audience, presumably from The Windy City, shouted out a “Whoo!” Why? Is your entertainment bar set so low that the mere mention of the town you live in puts you over the top? Or are you so desperate for attention that you want to be able to tell your friends back home on the South Side that you were the one who verbally acknowledged the shout out for Chicago on a TV show? What is it about the name of a city that makes you respond differently than you would if the guest had merely mentioned, for instance, bananas?
There’s no prize in reflected glory, after all. If someone from your town who you don’t personally know wins an Oscar or Emmy, they’re not bringing it over to your house. You’re not going to sit down over lunch and talk speed skating with a gold medal Olympian just because they were raised in the same state you reside in. And you’re damn sure not going to get the opportunity to take a bestie-selfie with the newest Royal Couple. The closest you’ll get is making a goofy face next to one of those guys in the big furry hats outside Buckingham Palace, followed by an afternoon in your London hotel room binge-watching episodes of “Suits.”