A GUIDEPOST Reprint
THE KINGS AND I
By Bill Cemlyn-Jones
2 January 1970
I went to a bar, something I seldom do, sat down on a bar stool and requested the services of the limpiabotas. The shoe shine boy—who is ninety if he´s a day—did an excellent job on my footwear. It´s become an annual ritual with me. Every year, once a year, I get my shoes, my only pair, neatly polished on the eve of the Feast of the Three Kings.
I left the bar—it´s quite possible I had one small glass of wine while I was waiting—and carefully, stepping over every puddle, called in at the local supermarket. There I purchased one packet of deep-frozen bean sprouts and another packet of deep-frozen yucca roots.
I went home, removed my gleaming shoes, decanted my chilly vegetables therein, and carefully placed them outside my bedroom door. I do this every year. According to the ancient and charming Spanish custom, on the night of January 5th, the three Kings pause by my apartment building, squeeze their camels into the elevator, push the sixth floor button. Then they discover that the elevator is not, according to the ancient and charming Spanish custom, functioning. So then they pull out the camels—not the best-tempered of creatures—and trudge up the six flights of stairs. They remove the frozen fodder from my shoes and replace it with Precious Gifts, such as Chanel No. 5, frankincense, or, preferably, a decimo in the winning number of the Lottery.
But this year, frankincensuously, I´m worried. I´m not sure that the Kings are going to come my way.
“Peace on Earth to all Men of Goodwill” was the protest slogan poster of the Kings when they made their first demonstration pilgrimage march on Bethlehem 1,969 years ago. Let´s face it, that first non-violent manifestation hasn’t as yet achieved any resounding success. Maybe the Kings are getting tired of trying, and this year will just write letters to their Congressmen, the newspapers and make guest appearances on TV quiz shows. I hope not.
Then one of the kings, of course, is a Negro, which makes him unacceptable in certain sad parts of this troubled World. Perhaps some of the Black Pussycats may even describe him as a regal Uncle Tom. However, I am reliably assured that neither Melchior nor Gaspar ever said:
“One of my best friends is Balthasar, it´s just that I wouldn´t like my sister to marry him”. (OK, Mr. Enoch Powell and ex-Gov. Wallace?) In Spain at least there is no pathological prejudice regarding pigmentation.
There´s another problem for Kings these days, which I fully appreciate. Prince Philip of England recently complained, (over the U.S. TV networks) that he was running out of cash, and couldn´t afford to keep up his polo ponies. I’d guess that the cost of supporting a camelcade would run just as high as a stableful of polo ponies. This year, do you suppose the Kings will arrive in a Seat 600, on bicycles, or even jam themselves into the Metro?
Anyway, my most reliable source assures me that despite all the difficulties, the Kings will arrive in Madrid this year. My most reliable source happens to be the year-old son of my portero. At least I can trust him.
Featured image/Rosy, from Pixabay
Three Kings/Rosy, Pixabay
Seat 600/Andrew Bone, CC BY2.0 via Flickr
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