SHREWSBURY, Massachusetts – Fairy tales have been delighting both young and old since the beginning of time, relating stories of poor girls who become princesses, animals that transform into humans, witches, giants, elves, knights in shining armor, magic rings or carpets, and adventures in enchanted forests, hazardous seas, or the exotic lands of Persia, Arabia, and China. Whether possessing a moral or just meant to entertain, each saga always ends happily with good conquering evil, but have you ever wondered what happens after the words “and they all lived happily ever after?”
Taking Snow White as an example, a girl who spent her teen years cooking and cleaning for the Seven Dwarfs, did she really let her culinary skills go to waste after being awakened by Prince Charming? Of course she became a princess with servants and the like, but after having worked throughout her puberty don’t you think she would have been bored by being waited on hand and foot? If nothing else she could have written a cook book, becoming the Julia Child of fantasyland and being called the “Wench Chef.”
Cinderella, the prototypical rags to riches maiden who also cooked and cleaned, but in her case having to toil away for a mean step-mother and sisters, was finally rescued from drudgery by a different (I assume) Prince Charming. With the clue to her identity being a tiny pair of glass slippers that only her tiny feet could fit into, it’s a mystery how she even walked and I wonder if perhaps she merely hobbled around like the Chinese women whose feet were bound to keep them petite. And after all those years of sleeping in cinders by the fireplace, would she really be able to sleep in a comfortable bed with her prince? Her skin was probably as tough as an alligator’s.
Unlike the two adolescents just mentioned, Rapunzel didn’t have to slave away for her keep but rather had nothing to do all day but stare out the tower window and wait for her witch captor to return. Yet another Prince Charming came to her rescue (I wonder where all those royal bachelors came from), but with such incredibly long hair she must have spent every waking moment preening herself, and having lived alone for so long do you think she ever stopped talking once liberated? The prince probably had to wear ear muffs to get a little peace and quiet.
Surely Rapunzel’s husband had a challenging existence, but the worse fate of all belonged to the guy who married the Pea Princess, you know the prima donna who tossed and turned all night due to a pea that was placed beneath 20 mattresses. Cinderella slept on ashes and this princess made a mountain out of a lint lump. Can you imagine the complaining that went on in that household with such a sensitive chick? “I’m hot, I’m cold, I’m bored, my feet hurt, I have nothing to wear, the meat isn’t tender, my hair is frizzy, the crickets are making a racket, your snoring keeps me awake,” on and on both day and night. No wonder that prince wasn’t called “charming,” for who would be after living with such a kvetch?
All in all, I guess even the happiest of endings come with drawbacks. I’ll bet the Frog Prince, once restored to human form, still liked to eat flies?