Ah, yes, the old "third wheel."
Remember back, whether in junior high or high school, when you really had a crush on someone? Sure you do.
Maybe it was that guy in Earth Science who grinned seductively at you every morning before asking for a number two pencil and a piece of paper.
Or perhaps it was that enticing young vixen who sat behind you in American History. Remember how adorable she was, the way she thought all those presidents were named after high schools?
And you would devise ways to spend a little quality time with these folks outside of school. Whether it was at a Friday night football game or a field trip to the manhole cover museum, you dreamed and schemed about finding a chunky enough block of time to conquer their hearts.
You might have approached her at the local stadium and remarked, "Hey, Wow. How are you? I didn't see you sitting here, where I had to use an industrial lubricant to squeeze past this row of people. Hey, listen, they gave me an extra popcorn at the snack bar. Something about clearing out the machine to look for a possum larva. Anyway, why don't you take this and I'll just sit down right here, kay?"
Nestling in beside her, you'd try material she understood because anything complicated might derail the whole thing, like Watergate jokes or something. If you were lucky, she'd touch your arm during a gurgling spasm of unbridled laughter. Or not.
Usually at this point, the girl who'd been sitting to her other side, someone named Stacie or Colleen, had reached a critical juncture in ceding her BFF's affections to you. She might remark something like, "Hey, look, Julie. There's Jennifer down by the trampled football sign. She looks really good because she just got her braces off and she doesn't even have to wear bungee cords. Let's go talk to her."
Foiled again. Your soul mate would abruptly rise from her wooden bleacher, brush some stray kernels off her denim-painted thighs and flee with her evil consort, leaving nothing behind but the dissolving vapor of Love's Baby Soft and amputated hope.
Today marks the birthday of the poster child of third wheels. Born July 17, 1947 in London, England, Camilla Parker Bowles achieved the lofty title of Camilla, patron saint of ointment flies.
Who could have predicted that this woman would have proven herself capable of driving a cricket wicket between England's future king and his beautiful princess bride? Who could have imagined the strife and misery visited upon such a fairytale coupling by a man who'd fantasized about being reincarnated as one of Bowles' tampons and living in her trousers?
I may skip dinner tonight.
Have other notorious third wheels rolled down the grassy hills of our cultural landscape throughout history? Maybe not to the degree of Lady Thorn-in-the-Side, but absolutely. Yoko Ono famously clung to John Lennon like bathtub caulking, arguably inciting the breakup of the greatest band ever. Something tells me that if she'd chosen Ringo instead, the others would have welcomed her to the band and stuck her in the corner with a huge spliff and a set of pan flutes.
How about Ralph Nader?—did he screw up things for Al Gore or what? People who voted for Nader and were irritated about George W.'s winning are the same types who let their pet chimps be designated drivers and get mad when they smash into the neighbor's Airstream.
Furthermore, word of advice for furniture-moving third wheels—If there's someone on each end of the couch, don't grab the middle. It doesn't help at all. In fact, it throws everything out of balance and really pisses off the other two people. Go back inside and grab that box of hangers.
Third wheels aren't always people, either. For instance, why does gas have to come in three octane levels—87, 89 and 92? Has anyone ever used the 89? I'll bet every time the truck arrives to refill the tanks, the 89 tank is still full from last time. Probably still full from 1977.
Then there's the third wheel of nuts and legumes—the Brazil. No one ever buys a container of Brazil nuts. They're too big and woody to taste good, and they're always left abandoned at the bottom of the glass holiday dish after their attractive cousins the cashew and almond have been whisked away to the gastrointestinal ball.
Lastly, and I know this may chap people, but Canada is a third wheel. Yeah, I'm talking about the whole country. It's kind of like England and it's sort of like the United States, but it's neither at the same time. Come on, Canada, if you're going to own as many guns as we do, you need to start killing people with them like we do or get rid of them, like England has. Act obnoxious and entitled like we do or uptight, yet naughty, like the Brits.
Damn. That reminds me Camilla, which reminds me of Charles, which reminds me of setting up house in a high-waisted British cheeky monkey fantasy land.
Happy birthday, Ms. Bowles. Keep that guy under control.