A Tea Towel for Two

I went to the British Museum recently to lose myself in history for the afternoon. It’s a huge building, filled with enough exhibits to keep you time traveling for ages. If Night at the Museum were a documentary, I’d be first in line to have a chat with the pharaohs, maybe get my phone out and share Steve Martin’s homage to King Tut on YouTube, try to start a sing-a-long.

What you see is just the tip of the iceberg; most of the booty is in storage. I imagine basement levels going down, down, down, with thousands of crates stacked up like the last scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark. [Note to self: see if Indiana Jones did any work for the British.]

All museums require a gift shop to separate you from the money you haven’t dropped into the ‘Please donate’ boxes. This is how I came across a very curious artifact indeed: a tea towel with the smiling faces of a couple engaged to be married. They were in modern garb, not ancient Egyptian or anything. In fact they looked strangely familiar. Wait a minute — I’d just seen the same faces beaming at me from covers at a magazine stand down the street!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it was Prince Harry and the alluringly alliterative Meghan Markle. They were also making an appearance on mugs, commemorative plates, and other collectibles probably keeping a village of Chinese factory workers in employment. All that was missing was his-and-her sphinxes. That last one’s a freebie, if some entrepreneur wants to run with it.

The last couple to be so enthusiastically embraced by souvenir makers was Harry’s brother Bill and the clearly fecund Kate, last seen fulfilling consort duties by generously providing spare heirs to keep her brother-in-law far enough from the throne that he can definitely relax now.

I know very little about Harry and Meghan, and would prefer to keep it that way, as I fear my brain is running out of room, filled to the brim as it already is with important facts about historical figures like King Tut and Indiana Jones. I do, however, know a little something about marriage.

My wife and I have been together long enough to deserve a commemorative plate of our own; or at least a tea towel, perhaps embroidered with an aphorism about the matrimonial state.

Here’s one, from brainyquote.com: “A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” Like some vinegar with that pith? “Take this marriage thing seriously — it has to last all the way to the divorce.” Thanks, Roseanne. Perhaps she’d like to trade quips with Prince Philip, who is reported to have said “When a man opens a car door for his wife, it’s either a new car or a new wife.”

“I’d like to take that one for a ride.”

I’ve prepared vows, in case the Archbishop of Canterbury forgets his lines:

Harry, do you take Meghan to be your lawfully wedded celebrity spouse? Do you promise to punch paparazzi if necessary, like Sean Penn did for Madonna? (“Give ’em hell, Harry!” I can almost hear the people cheer already.) Do you promise to have and to hold her from this day forward, for richer, for poorer (just kidding), for better or for worse, including but not limited to very bad hair days? Do you promise to actually listen to her and not just nod your head in what you hope are the right places?

Meghan, are you absolutely sure about this? Marrying a prince might seem like a fairy tale come true, but do you promise to stick with him even if he turns into a frog?

Does anybody object to this union, other than young women losing their chance to merge with The Firm? No? You may now kiss any semblance of domestic privacy goodbye.

One of the most touching objects in the museum is an 11,000 year old calcite figurine of entwined lovers. I would rate it PG. It’s about than the size of a heart. They didn’t have marriage in the stone age, unless Fred and Wilma Flintstone’s count, but they definitely knew how to celebrate two becoming one.

I won’t make any predictions on whether Harry and Meg’s union will stand the test of time. As with any couple, I wish them the best as they love, honor and negotiate. That’s also from brainyquote.

The bride-to-be is not just getting new in-laws, she’s on her way to British citizenship, which means she’ll have to take a test. More on that later…