This essay is one of the “Lost Blogs” that was discovered in the wildlands of the intarwebs by my friend Eric James Stone after the publication of Beauty & Dynamite. I’m posting it in response to something Kelli wrote recently called “Boyfriend 47,”, an essay ranking the merits (or lack thereof) of the respective Disney princes. Personally, I think Prince Charming’s not so bad…if you know the whole story.
This is also apropriate because Mom and Dad are headed back to Florida this morning, and I’m just plain-old going to miss them.
Bibbidy Bobbity Byes
Original post date: 12/8/2004
I dropped Mom off at the airport this morning. On the long, lonely drive back to work, I tried to think of other things in an effort to distract myself from being emotional. After covering traffic and other people who hate goodbyes, my brain settled on Cinderella.
I’ve always favored the Grimms’ telling of Cinderella over the Perrault or Disney versions. Some may find that surprising, seeing as I’m a bit of a Fairy Godmother In Training – the Grimms’ tale hadn’t a fairy godmother in sight. (Not to despair, Briar Rose still had them to sort out that whole curse thing, so my future career choice is still justified.)
No, the less popular – and much darker – tale had Cinderella weeping over the grave of her mother. Birds in the tree planted on the grave spoke to her on her mother’s behalf and helped her out in her times of need. They came to her aid when the evil stepmother gave Cinderella impossible tasks to accomplish. She didn’t go to the ball once but three times, in dresses thrown to her from the birds. When the Prince came around to the house bearing the slipper, the stepsisters maimed themselves in their avarice, slicing off pieces of their feet in order to fit into the shoe. The Prince rode away with the wrong woman twice, and twice the birds warned him of the blood in the shoe and sent him back for the proper girl.
Being caught inside the whirlwind that my life has been lately had me thinking about Cinderella. Empathizing, asking questions, and coming to realizations. Somehow, Cinderella MUST have met the Prince prior to the ball. I’m not quite sure how she pulled it off, but there’s no way she would have done all that stuff for him without being completely in love with him first. Big Love, capital letters and all, not just a crush on a pretty face and a castle. Showing up at a ball in a nice dress hoping to snare a man reeks of pettiness. I have to believe that Cinderella was much better than that. Picking a girl out of a crowd and marrying her solely based on her looks is equally as shallow. I have to believe that the Prince was much more than that too.
Cinderella was an introvert, my brain rationalized.
It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? She kept her head low and kowtowed to the evil women who took over her house and took away her life. There is NO way on Earth she would have gone through the trials she did and forced herself to be the center of attention three times for anything less than Big Love. My guess is, attending those balls was the most brave, scary, nervewracking thing she had ever done in her life. I’m betting she had more than a few panic attacks. But she still did it.
Then there’s the issue of the Prince – who KNEW darn well what his True Love looked like, but his integrity still forced him to stay true to his word and ride away with the wrong woman. Can a man with a code of honor like that marry a virtual stranger? Well, the proclamation did say that his bride would be the one who fit the shoe… Good thing those birds were there to give him a suitable out-clause.
It certainly gives the tale more depth when you consider that Cinderella was probably a borderline basketcase coming out of her shell; the Prince, a tormented knight in shining armor with an annoying amount of moral fiber.
But the story is really about a mother’s love for her daughter – a love so pure and strong it reaches from beyond the grave. Her birds don’t exactly tell either of the lovers what to do, only nudge them a bit to help them down their paths. And so, Cinderella and her Prince lived Happily Ever After.
The moral of the story: Mom is always right.
Love you, Mom.