IN THE MATTER of the glass bowl (the royal chatchka) that Nancy Reagan is going to give to Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, some people think that $8,000 (plus $1,000 for gift wrapping?) is a bit too much to spend and that the royal couple would be just as happy, maybe even happier, with a gift certificate or maybe a lazy susan. All they will probably do is exchange the bowl to buy another horse.
The gift is being defended because the original price was $75,000, but what is not being mentioned is the fact that the bowl has been on the shelf since 1975 and it has not been sold. At steuben, like everywhere else, this is called moving the inventory and now all the world knows that the gift from America was bought on sale. I hope Mrs. Reagan is not going to pull the old number of keeping the original price tag on the bowl.
There is the possibility, of course, that the story being floated about the bowl all along and will put it in a Steuben box and give it to the royal couple. I know people who do this. Maybe the bowl was given to the Reagans when they got married. Maybe it's a gift from Frank Sinatra thanking Reagan for a letter of reference.
It's a bad gift for the royal couple, anyway. What will they do with a bowl?They will put it on a shelf. To put an $8,000 (knocked down from $75,000) bowl on a shelf is a sin. Maybe they will put jelly beans in it. Or wax fruit. I would suggest a goldfish. They could call it Ronnie and watch the little fishie swim around all day. It is well known that royalty has nothing else to do. At 2 p.m. the fish gets briefed and at 3, it takes a nap.
Some people, I know, will get morally indignant about spending $8,000, for a bowl to give to people who will simply put it on the shelf. These are some of the same people who think it is wretched excess for the first lady to take a hairdresser with her to England, or for her friend, Betsy Bloomingdale, to also take a hairdresser with her to the very same England. Some people would say that real friends could share a hairdresser (I, for one, share Roy with lots of people), but they miss the point that America, at last, has its own royalty.
What this wedding is all about is a chance for our royalty to meet their royalty. Ours is from the movies, which is more American royalty comes from.It is like the old royalty in that you have to do very little to make an awful lot of money. It has nothing to do with talent, really, just circumstances of birth. If you happen to be born pretty or handsome, you have it made. If you happen to be born ugly or short, you can direct or you can go into the catering business.
Our royalty, like their royalty, spends a lot of time doing ceremonial things. It poses for pictures too, and it opens supermarkets and spends a lot of the time complaining about the way it is treated in the press. It, like the other royalty, thinks it is owed everything and owes nothing in return. This is called noblesse oblige -- a phrase coined by Frank Sinatra.
But the royal couple is going to get lots of bowls. They may even get a small country. (I know they already have one). What they will not get, you can bet, is something like a popcorn popper.This would be an American gift. Or a peanut butter maker.This, too, is American. Maybe the Reagans and the Lopez-Portillos and Piere Trudeau could have chipped in and bought the royal couple a gift from North America -- a Cuisinart or something. That would have cost about 60 bucks per country. You can bet other countries are giving gifts that they are famous for making. The Germans probably will give the royal couple a camera. The French will give champagne. The Japanese will give them baseball mitts.
So now, with parts of England still smoldering from the riots and Americans being told that their Social Security is going to get cut, the first lady and the first friend and the first hairdresser are going to wing their way across the Atlantic with the first bowl. I might have suggested a pie plate for a gift, but I've changed my mind.
Let them eat cake.