Hey, queenie, our town's got navel heroes, too

MICHAEL OLESKER

May 14, 1991|By MICHAEL OLESKER

An Open Letter from the People of Baltimore to Queen Elizabeth of England:

Your Royal Hon-ness:

How was your trip accrosst the Allanic? We go danny ayshin alla time, natcherly, which gets me to my point: Coming to Baltimore must be just like coming home for you. Like, you got cricket, we got baseball, which is where we'll see yiz tomorrow night at the ballpark.

Everybody around here is feeling a little self-conscious about your visit, what with you being so cultured and all, but that's silly. Hon, we got tons of stuff in common. For instance, in your country you speak English, and in this city we speak a pretty close approximation to it.

Take Mimi DiPietro, for example. He's a city councilman from East Baltimore, who once said, "I'll never lie to you. If I have to lie to you, I'll deviate from you."

See what I mean? Your country has a history of great speakers, but so does this city. Winston Churchill once said, "We shall fight them on the beaches."

Big deal. We have Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who once went to the beach at Ocean City and told the Veterans of Foreign Wars, "A strong military is the best detergent against war." (He must have been thinking about the Tide coming in, if you get my drift.)

See what I'm saying, your hon-ness? There's more that unites us than divides us. You have a thousand years of royalty. And we have Royal Parker. Also, Mount Royal Tires. And we used to have the Royal Theater on Pennsylvania Avenue. Hey, queenie, I'd say we're even.

You gave the world the Beatles and the Stones. Big deal. We have the Stones every night -- Fred and Barney, on the TV. You had great naval heroes, like Admiral Nelson. And we have great naval heroes, like Captain Chesapeake. (And Blaze Starr, who showed her navel.) You have Westminster Abbey. And we have Westminster Transmission Service, and Dear Abby, which is in this very newspaper.

Speaking of which, I seen in the papers that your family has a history of athletic support. Prince Philip played polo, right? Us, too. Years ago, we had a lord mayor here named Tommy D'Alesandro. Somebody convinced him to allow a polo match at Memorial Stadium. Tommy the Elder, having once heard about the game, said sure.

The day after the match, somebody broke the bad news to Tommy: The horses tore up all the sod at the stadium.

"Horses!" bellowed Tommy. "Who told 'em they could use horses?"

Of course, your country might be a little more sophisticated than this city. You have all those lords -- although we did have Julius "Lord" Salisbury. You had the Duke of Windsor -- although we did give him Wallis Simpson. You have the world-famous Piccadilly Circus -- although we have the world-famous Circus Show Bar on The Block.

Your country and this city have great similarities in law and justice. You have police officers, who don't wear guns. They're called bobbies. We have a few police who don't wear guns. They're called suicidal.

You helped give the world a great system of courts. We have a great system, too, although Councilman DiPietro has pointed out that our system is hurt by, as he puts it, "too much flea bargaining."

In England, you have great universities. The mayor of Baltimore, Kurt L. Schmoke, attended one, called Oxford, which I understand was named after our Oxford Clothing Shop on York Road. Also, you have famous boarding schools, like Eton. We have famous boarding schools, too, like Montrose and the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School for boys.

Your great men and women of state have given the world some of its most profound political philosophy. But, if the British Empire should last a thousand years, no one will forget William Donald Schaefer declaring, "I can sum up my political philosophy in one word: people and caring."

You have Hyde Park, with its Speakers Corner. We have Leakin Park, where they hyde the bodies. You have Shakespearean theater, which has to do with a great writer. We have the Mechanic Theatre, which has nothing to do with a garage.

Naturally, England is known as a great international center. But Baltimore's got the International House of Pancakes. Also, not to push the point, the Sweden Video Store, English's Steak House and Belgian waffles at Vacarro's in Little Italy.

You have croquet; we have league nights at the Patterson Lanes. You have the London Ballet, but we had Body Talk, where all the guys said, "Love your pirouettes, girlies."

So you see, your hon-ness, there's lots in common between your place and ours. You have fog in London. We have London Fog on Union Avenue. You have great art at the British Museum. We have great screen paintings on Eastern Avenue. You have drivers on the left-hand side of the road. We do, too. We call them inebriated.

You have pigeons in Trafalgar Square. We have pigeons, too. They'll be lined up at the betting windows at Saturday's running of the Preakness. You oughtta stick around for that sporting event, your hon-ness. That is, if you survive nine innings of watching the Orioles.

That's a problem a lot of us are having these days.

See yiz,

Michael Olesker

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