Was it from Vienna where the notion of girls marrying their fathers came? Freud, was it? Well, I can assure you, I did not marry my papa. Duke Maximilian Joseph was nothing like the Emperor. My papa was an eccentric hedonist–a champion of the underclass. He liked nothing more than to dress up as King Arthur and preside over his very own Round Table. When he wasn’t engaged in circus riding that is. Or strumming his zither. Or schtupping peasant ladies.
As for my husband, he had a mistress or two (I even encouraged it!), but he disdained stag parties and the like. You would never find Emperor Franz Joseph in a brothel, or a tavern. He liked his whiskey neat. Upon a little silver tray on his desk. One shot only.
Whereas dear Papa was a bit of a spulfer.
And, my father had an eye for ladies of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds. “Pretty girls have no need for lessons,” he told my governess as he untied the ropes she’d bound me to the chair with. “Lise needs to know a poem or two, and keep her teeth clean. That’s all.” The governess was not pleased and stomped off, but not before barking, “She is wild and unschooled. I imagine she will end up marrying poorly. As did her mother.”
Papa smirked, and, like a child, stuck his thumb to his nose and waved his fingers at the governess as she bustled away.
The rest of my family called me Sisi, or Duchess, or Elisabeth, but only to Papa I was Lise. There was the time we dressed up like Gypsies and rode about the countryside from beer garden to beer garden, performing for florins that were tossed at our feet. “If you and I had not been princely born, Lise,” he told me, “we’d have joined the circus.”
And to this day, those few coins were the only honest money I ever earned.
Then there was the time he called my mother-in-law, the Archduchess, “The only man in the Hofburg.” that didn’t go over too well at home, as the Archduchess also happened to be my mother’s sister.
“Mind your mouth, Duke,” spat my mother. And then Papa took Ludovica, my addled mother, up in his arms and danced her around. Thus, nine months later, my youngest brother and my father’s namesake, Max Emanuel, was born. Mapperl, we called him, and he was my favorite.