Thursday, November 5, 2009

Once Upon a Time, There was Castle-mania

When I was growing up, I loved being read to and loved reading. I loved stories about castles and the princesses who lived in them. I would get lost in stories for days and could easily forget my current incarnation as Ronda. When I read fairy tales like Rumpelstiltskin, The Princess and the Pea, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty, I WAS A PRINCESS AND I LIVED IN A CASTLE . I knew those stories by heart. I built castles out of sand and boxes and sheet covered chairs. As I fell asleep, my bed became my castle, the floor a moat.

Me and Mrs. Jones

I have had many careers in my life, but that was the first thing I ever remember truly wanting for my future. I longed to be a princess. To live a romantic life in a castle in which my every whim and desire was provided and attended to by everyone in residence. But, alas, being a daughter of hard working, responsible, practical, lower middle class, suburban parents, my royal reign never materialized. Instead, I was taught to be a hard working, self-sufficient, responsible individual. I found myself a hard working, self-sufficient, responsible husband. And although he can fix a mean toilet and put new windows and roof on our house, he doesn't have a gallant, white steed or a castle and he doesn't treat me like a princess. But now that I think about it, once upon a time, he did have a Mustang...a 1965, to be exact. Does that count? Anyhoo...

No one in my life ever gave me royal treatment except this man, "M."

Queen of Hearts

He was one of my best friends from high school and beyond. His step father was a well-to-do doctor and his mother was a connoisseur of haute couture. He was artistic, handsome and gay. Not something you wanted to be in Red Neck Country in the late 60s and early 70s. After a suicide attempt, and a court mandated stint in mental health, he got his stuff together and attended cosmetology school.

Partridge in a Pear Tree

For a few years after he got his license, he participated in hair show competitions. His specialty? The Fantasy Division. He picked me to be his model. Don't really know why. I'm not anywhere near the model type. I'm short, don't yearn for the spotlight and would be described as closer to cute than beautiful.

But he made me feel beautiful and spoiled me with a privileged existence. He took days and weeks trying my hair in different colors (pink, green, red, silver) and styles, had my gowns custom designed and sewn, spent hours picking exactly the right shade of lipstick and nail polish, arched my eyebrows, painted my nails and taught me how to walk a run way and behave with proper castle etiquette. In return, being the hard working, reliable one, I showed up to ALL of his numerous rehearsals, fitting appointments, make up appointments and the big events.

The Ice Princess
Yep, I'm wearing a candelabra on my head. It is large, silver, and wrought iron complete with crystals and lit candles.

The hair shows were nothing short of torture in many cases. Fun torture, but torture none the less. Those head pieces weighed a ton and I won't even tell you about how they were stapled to my head. Try wearing one all the while smiling and walking regally like a princess. But he won many trophies, gained notoriety, moved to San Francisco, about three hours to the south, and styled the hair of 70s celebs like The Pointer Sisters. He met his future husband, "B". Later they adopted two children, a boy with Autism and a daughter from an abusive situation. The kids are grown now and he no longer lives in Frisco but, he and "B" are still together and in love. "M" did get his fairy tale ending.

As for me? Thanks, "M," for letting me live "La Vita Princess." But being a princess can be hard work and I believe I'm happier with "La Vita Plain and Simple." Ta ta, royal subjects, ta ta!

53 comments:

Alan Burnett said...

What a great post. You may not be a Princess, but you have a fan.

Ronda Laveen said...

Alan: Oh, my friend, and I am a fan of yours. I just visited your blog and found it comfortable, fun and educational. Thanks.

Brian Miller said...

wonderful ronda...nice pics...and just through those i would confuse you for a princess any day. smiles.

Harnett-Hargrove said...

Great chapter.... and you say your NOT a princess? -Jayne

California Girl said...

Love the memory. What a super friend, fun times no matter how hard it was to balance those creations. What I like the best is the friendship between the two of you as well as the ability to prevail over the long haul. Not easy being gay in the early seventies. Not easy staying married to your partners.

Aren't you happy you have those photos?

Kate Hanley said...

Great, great post. Lovely memories and wonderful pictures. I second Cali Girl, you must feel so happy to still have those photos.

Mrsupole said...

I am oh so loving these pictures of everyone.

I know you may not want to hear this, but what the hey, you look like a beautiful princess in those pictures to me. So there, I said it. You were a princess, even if for just a little while. And I am so glad that I never had to wear those head pieces. I have heard other women who have worn similiar ones say that they are really heavy and it can make their necks hurt if they wear them for years.

You and your friend were very lucky to have such a wonderful friendship for all these years. I really enjoyed the story about it.

Just remember that deep in your heart, you will always be a "Princess". And now ours too.

God bless.

willow said...

Hey, you're really giving Lucy with the bird cage in her hair (you know the Bob Hope movie?)a run for her money!

otin said...

I would defend your honor with sword and shield, my Lady!

I thought that your story was going to end sad when you kept talking about your friend in the past tense! I am glad that it went the happy route!

Reya Mellicker said...

Wow!!

Damn girl, you look GOOD in hats, crowns, candelabras and probably anything else you put on your head. You are regal, definitely!

Loved this post.

Mar said...

Lovely post and pictures for the castlemania!!

Poetikat said...

You look stunning in every one of those shots. How wonderful for you to be pampered and beautified. Every girl needs her "M".

Dreamhaven said...

I love the exotic headpieces and hair. You must have been a princess in another life. Happy TT

R.J. Edwards said...

Love the headpieces. The partridge in the pear tree is just hilarious!

Skip Simpson said...

In my mind, you will always be a princess, my lady. (deep bow)

Wings said...

Great post! Looks like you had fun and a great friend!

Dot-Com said...

Ha ha, who needs a prince or king when you've found someoe who will treat you like a princess :)

TechnoBabe said...

You and I have the hairdresser modeling career in common. These are good photos, you look serene and grand, sorta like a princess. Smile.

e said...

Smiling wide: Ronda you do indeed look the princess in these. Thanks for sharing this wonderful story!

Betsy said...

I want "M" to do my hair! ...well, maybe without the candleabra! ha! Loved this post!

Ronda Laveen said...

Brian: We'll maybe Princess for a day or three or four.

H-H: It was a great chapter. Nope, not a "real" princess. Just a pretend one.

California Girl: Yes, he is a wonderful friend. You are right. It wasn't easy being gay nearly 40 years ago or staying with your partners. And, yes, I am definitely glad I have those photos now. For a long time, I shelved them. It was a fun find.

Kate: Thanks, and yes I am so happy that I have the photos now. I went through a phase in my 30s where I was embarassed by them. No more.

Ronda Laveen said...

Sherry: Oh, thank you for the lovely words. Yes those head pieces were not fun. He thought they were because he just designed them and didn't have to wear them. I had divots in my head for years after. Well...it felt like it anyway.

Willow: Ha! You are so right! I had forgotten about that movie. Might be worth another look-see.

Otin: Thank you, kind sir! Yes, M did have a happy ending to his story. But it was not without many lumps and bumps.

Reya: I've worn more things on my head than Carmen Miranda. Maybe that is why I have aversion to head gear these days. Ya think?

Mar: Thanks. And thanks for visiting the Wonderland.

Kat: Yes it was fun being pampered. Mostly anyway. Every girl does deserve an M in her life.

Ronda Laveen said...

Dreamhaven: Perhaps you are right, I may have been a princess in another life. Hence, the not princess in this one for balance.

RJE: The Partridge in a Pear Tree was hilarious. What none of the photos show is that there IS a partridge at the top of the headpiece.

Sir Skip: Thank you (curtsey). Take my lace handkerchief for luck.

Wings: Thanks. We had lots and lots of fun.

Dot-Com: Sage advice indeed, young one!

TechnoBabe: I would love to hear your hairdresser modeling career stories. And photos if you have them.

e: Ahhh, thank you so much.

Betsy: I'll see what I can wrangle for you from M.

Megan said...

Omigosh. Fantastic! FanTASTIC! What a great way to use the castle theme. Salaams to you, Great Princess of the North!

Jasmine said...

lovely costumes :)

...mmm... said...

Good that you've been a true freind to M during hwat must have been very challending times.

BTW, on a completely differnt note: do sign up for the XMAS blog tea if you can make it. It's your chance to shine and hobnob with other like minded bloggers.

reyjr said...

That was a wonderful heartwarming story Ronda! I think it's great that you were given a chance to participate in events like those - something to tell the young ones about (or your blogger friends ehehe).

By the way, you did look like a Princess in the photos. My favorite is the first one! :D

Ronda Laveen said...

Megan: And, salaams to you, My Princess Cousin from the South.

Jasmin: Thanks:-)

...mmm...Thanks, I saw the invitation to your Tea. It is yours, isn't it? I will go back and check it out. TY.

Reyjr: Why, thank you kind sir. I am so glad you liked that outfit. I had it especially made with you in mind. (Demeurely smiling)

Colette Amelia said...

What a great story and it had a great ending! Cute or gorgeous you were quite a looker!

Dorraine said...

Oh, but this was priceless, seeing you in all those get-ups. What an interesting life you've led thus far, Ronda! And you are beautiful, then and now. Just loved this story.

I'm hoping you still keep in touch with "M."

Ronda Laveen said...

Colette: Thank you. A looker, huh? I like that term.

Dorraine: Those get-ups were quite involved weren't they? Glad you enjoyed the story. I haven't seen M in a few years. But I ran into his brother a few months ago. He gave me the update. I will Google him soon. It HAS been too long.

derailed hippo said...

Great post! you really got the atmosphere similar to a dream sequence :)

Jai Joshi said...

Utterly fabulous post, Ronda. Thank god for friends, eh? I have a few myself that are just like "M" and treat me like a princess. I'm so grateful for them.

Those head pieces do look like torture to wear, though!

Jai

Candie Bracci said...

Wonderfum,wonderful post Ronda!Love the photos and love the costumes!Have a nice day!:)

Candie Bracci said...

wonderum is wonderful you might have figured it out!Sorry not enough sleep!lol

Marianna said...

Hey Ronda, great TT post! Well if you think about it every life has a fairytale to offer...even if it lasts for a few minutes, days or years :)

xoxo

TechnoBabe said...

Hi Ronda, I wrote a short post on my blog about the hair modeling. http://www.thetechnobabe.com/2009/08/hair-every-color-of-rainbow-and-more.html

I have very few pictures and none of the hair dressing competitions. I barely have pictures of my kids when they were small. I just haven't kept pictures only in my head. My kids are better at taking pictures than I was.

JGH said...

Glad to hear that "M" had his fairytale ending! Those are some major hairdos. I think he was lucky to have you to practice on!(well, you were lucky to have each other!)

Ronda Laveen said...

Derailed Hippo: I love your name, by the way. I didn't think about it until you mentioned, that it does read like a dream sequence.

Jai: I am so glad you have friends who treat you like a princess. It is such a treat, yes?

Candie: wonderum or wonderfum, I like the new term for wonderful. May I borrow?

Marianna: You are right, every life does have a fairy tale to offer...no matter how long or short. Glad to see you back in blogging again.

TechnoBabe: thanks for the info on your post. I will check it out. I seem to be the only one in my family who takes pics.

JGH: We were lucky to have each other. And boy did he do some crazy things with and on my head.

Betty said...

What fun photos. And you have a beautiful smile!

Ronda Laveen said...

Betty: Oh...THANK YOU!

Elizabeth said...

Your walk down nostalgia alley was eye-opening and wonderful indeed.
You make a wonderful fantasy hair model!
And as for being a princess.....
well living in a castle would be great.
HAve you read "I Capture the Castle" by Dodie Smith?

Ronda Laveen said...

Elizabeth: No! I haven't read that book. I'll have to check it out.

VE said...

I know its Northern California and all...but is that a fern on your head?

Ronda Laveen said...

VE! No, silly man, it is not a fern. Remember, this is California, home of large things like Redwoods. It is a tree. No frilly little plant for me.

Christina said...

Ronda, I had that very same dream as a child. couldn't imagine anything else besides being a princess. I am kind of embarrassed to admit that these days... :P

"...he got his stuff together and attended cosmetology school."

HAHAhaha! That is one of the best sentences ever! What an awesome friend to have. You look simply amazing in those costumes and head pieces. What a beautiful creature you are. :-o

Ronda Laveen said...

Christina: I would like to see a graphic or two or three of your memory of your "inner princess" years. I bet they would be fantastic. I wouldn't be embarassed...I'm sure there are a lot of closet princesses out there. Thanks.

Christina said...

Uh! You're putting ideas in my head again! :D
Painful place to go to...
But let's see.

I remember my dad reading bedtime stories to me. He was looking for something "educational" and "purposeful" for me - and I kept asking for that story with the princess and the maid being sent on that trip by the queen together and the maid beating the princess up as soon as the castle was out of sight and taking the princess's stuff and pretending to BE the princess in that new kingdom they went to.

But the prince there was a smarty pants and figured out that the maid was just that and the princess (stupid learned helplessness victim that she was) in the maid's clothes was the real gem. He figured it out by her singing and combing her hair.
What's the name of that story?
In German we call it "Gänseliesel" (translated: goose girl, the maid's job in the new kingdom)- does it sound familiar to you?

That was my ever favourite. Also loved Cinderella. Very similar plot.

Thank god for the bionic prince!
Fairy tales do come true, y'know. :D

Ronda Laveen said...

I'm trying to figure out what the H-E-double hockey sticks, fairy tale you are reciting. Beatin' up the Princess? The H-E-double hockey sticks, you say! Goose Girl? I'm going to have to Google that. That is not nice. Good thing the prince was not a chump. Still, I'll bet the images this evokes in you WILL BE stirring!

Yes, TGOD for the bionic prince.

Christina said...

Hehe, in my fairytale book back then there even was a picture of the maid beating up the princess. It was priceless. :D
Oh yeah: the princess had superpowers given to her in form of a lock of queen mum's hair - solely for the trip. But the goofy princess dropped the lock in the river. Oh right! It happened because the maid didn't want to serve her water in her golden cup any longer so poor darling had to kneel by the water to have a drink. The maid saw mum's hair floating away and ceased the moment to adjust the assigned roles a bit.

Good on her, me says today!
And why wasn't I intrigued by the rebel maid back then...? Hmmm...

Ronda Laveen said...

Christina: There were pictures, evidence, in your book of the maid wackin' on the princess? Wow. Oh, so it looks like the princess deserved it.

You probably weren't intrigued by the rebel maid back then because of your age. The "rebel" in us wakes up in our teen years usually. In many people, it never goes to sleep even after the need for that role in our lives is gone. What is useful at one point in our life, then becomes a detriment.

Christina said...

Of course! You are absolutely right!

Need for that role gone? NEVER!!! HAAAARR!!

:D

Ronda Laveen said...

Christina: Then fly that REBEL FLAG high!