Breathlessly, crowds around the world waited Monday for the birth of the royal baby. Thousands stood sweating, shank to shoulder, outside Buckingham Palace armed with cellphone cameras.
TV media, armed with real and fake British accents, chirped away outside St. Mary’s Hospital in London in record-breaking displays of words so dry and boring that people on six continents lapsed into a coma.
Nobody waited outside Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill on Monday.
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An ambulance pulled up and a lady on a gurney rolled out of the back. The look on her face said: “I hope my insurance covers this.”
Lanie Johnson of Rock Hill was breathless all right, too, inside the hospital at the same time. The 20-year-old was sweating, too, and her face was contorted.
She was in what is called the “Mom-Baby Unit” at PMC. She was going to be a mom for the first time, just like the rich duchess an ocean away.
The baby was taking her sweet time, and just like those watchers of royals, enough was enough.
Queen Elizabeth II hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday evening. The Associated Press reported it wasn’t clear when she would meet the newborn heir.
Grandparents in Rock Hill and Charlotte rushed toward PMC driving their Chevys, hoping the cops were looking the other way.
The whole world was throwing a baby shower for the royals.
A shower had been given a week before at the Ruby Tuesday restaurant for Johnson and Josh Hines, the father who works there as a bartender and host. Servers, waitresses, barbacks and cooks all gave presents.
Toasts were made. Drinks bought. Smiles and hugs shared.
Because Johnson and Hines had their own royal baby to deal with.
Johnson had been suffering through two days of contractions, and by Monday that felt like a mugging from a street thief.
“The pain,” Johnson said. “Brutal.”
The world wanted to know if Duchess Kate Middleton, married to Prince William, heir to the English throne that carries big money but the clout of a second-rate county justice of the peace, took pain medication for her delivery.
Nobody asked Johnson if she wanted pain meds. Her water broke and it was too late for pain medication.
Johnson had no audience except a few nurses, a doctor and the father. Hines, 23, a first-time father just like Prince William.
The prince works at being rich. He is in the military. Taxpayers buy his uniforms.
Hines works behind the bar and hustles meals at Ruby Tuesday, on his feet for 10- and 12-hour shifts. He buys his own uniforms.
To have a baby costs money, as a father cannot pour beer and margaritas and be there at the hospital at the same time, so Hines had to take a few days off.
The royal baby came at 4:24 p.m. Monday – one of more than 350,000 babies born around the world that day, assuming an average day.
At Piedmont Medical Center, where about 2,000 babies are born each year, seven were born on Monday. Six bouncing baby girls and one boy who was born like all men – outnumbered, outgunned and bawling.
Of those seven babies, one arrived at 4:37 p.m. – Kinslee Grace Hines.
There was no town crier or TV news flash, just a mother and father, crying with joy. Parents, in love with each other and their new baby.
“Five pounds, 10 ounces,” Johnson reported.
All mothers know the weight of babies forever.
“She is just, just, perfect,” Hines reported.
One of the gifts from the Ruby Tuesday shower was a “onesie” – a little shirt/coverlet thing that covers down to the legs. It was ordered special, with special writing.
In England the news stated a boy was born. Third in line to the throne of a country. A prince.
“They have a prince; we have a princess,” Johnson said. “Our own royalty. I watched some of it on TV. A lot of people care about it, it seems. It was all over the TV.”
Hines said he didn’t watch any.
“I was a little busy here,” he said.
The new parents talked about hoping their daughter grows up safe and sound and successful.
The coverage in England continued, with those fake and real British accents talking about a prince and palaces lived in with servants to wash the sheets.
In Rock Hill, a mom held a princess, a dad held a princess and then two of Hines’ co-workers from Ruby Tuesday – great young ladies named Michelle Patrick and Alexandria Gibson – came through the door.
The two carried gifts and smiles and tears of joy for Princess Kinslee.
“I didn’t really pay attention to the royal birth,” Patrick said. “I don’t care, to be honest.”
Kings and queens and princes and princesses went out of style with wars and millions dead over thrones, imperialism and other terrible deeds of divine right. All royalty has lost luster except the British royals, who apparently are still treated, well, like kings.
No crush of cameras waited outside Piedmont Medical Center to tell the world about Kinslee Grace Hines. But she sure seemed to like the attention of a few, and she is, after all, perfect. Just ask her proud father.
“My little princess is the greatest thing I ever saw.”