I have a bone to pick with Charles Perrault and The Brothers Grimm. Considering all three died centuries ago, that would be a proverbial bone. You may or may not recognize the names. Charles Perrault was a French writer, who most notably wrote Cinderella, and the Brothers Grimm, Wilhelm and Jacob, wrote many children’s fables and stories such as Rumpelstiltskin,, Rapunzel, and of course Snow White back in 1812. These beloved fairytales led starry eyed romantics like myself, with a taste of what life would be like if we met the Prince, dropped our shoe at the ball when the clock struck 12. It all seemed plausible in the mind of a 4 year old, and to be honest, there was a small part of me that took that into my teens. It wasn’t that I was naïve as much as it was, that a part of me believed that you could find that one person who would be all of those things for you. Full disclosure, I still secretly talk to animals in the hopes that they will talk back as they did in Snow White, to date the most I have gotten are licks and approval from my German Shepherd Jaxx, and a deeply moving, soul touching moment with a beautiful horse named Shae, at a 4H fair, where, I swear this horse knew me in another life. Scoff if you will, but we had something beautiful for that 20 minutes where my fireman and kids tried to peel me away. You think I am joking, they literally had to pull me away, but it was such a moving experience that was so close to knowing sheer, pure love and acceptance. You only experience this a handful of times in life if you are lucky, and the only times I had experienced this prior was becoming a Mom and meeting my “lovies” for the first time, and subsequently every day since.
So here I was like every girl of my generation and those before me, being read these fairytales, reading them ourselves, and allowing our minds to wander with endless possibilities, of meeting the Prince on the white horse, and finally escaping the clenches of a psychopath Step Mother, after the glass slipper fits like a glove on your dainty foot, and you are whisked away to live the life of a pampered Princess with the man of your dreams. What heterosexual girl wouldn’t think this was kind of groovy and way cool?
Since I am wildly curious and compelled to always know why, I have pondered why these men, and yes the irony of this fact that they were men, granted women were second class citizens’ back then and their writings were strongly discouraged, but what led these men to write such powerful stories to enthrall young girls with a promise of life as a Princess, with a man who will take care of you and know your heart, be there for you, and provide a stable, loving, home, and you two and your brood will live as they always tell you, “Happily Ever After”. Also, in writing Snow White, the Brothers Grimm, take this beautiful woman, who lives among the animals and shacks up with 7 men, who are less intimidating as pint size, not that there’s anything wrong with that, and keeps house for them, only to be felled by a poisoned apple given to the gullible Snow White, by her unknown nemesis, who is jealous of her stark good looks and cheery personality, whereby eating said poison apple, she is cast into a deep slumber only to be woken and saved by a kiss from her prince. Oops, hope I didn’t spoil the ending for y’all! All I can say is, that must have been some kiss! But metaphorically speaking, it is kind of brilliant, when you consider most romances are born with the first kiss, the way I suppose most fairytales begin in real life, where by the right ones breathe life into us, while the wrong ones… well they suck the fucking life right out of us!
When these men wrote these tales, was it out of a sense of falling short in their own lives and a sense of seeming inadequacy, was it to sell stories and they knew sappy women would buy into some alter realty, much like what has happened to women buying 50 Shades of Grey? Or was it that they themselves had the perfect spouse, the perfect life, and the message was to anyone reading their tales, that when you find your one true love, you have, in essence, found your Prince or Princess, and they have completed the journey your soul needed to be whole? See these are the burning questions that lead me to contemplation in the wee small hours of the night. Maybe it isn’t menopause keeping me up, but my inquisitive, semi-manic mind. Who can tell, but thought provoking none the less. Wouldn’t you say?
I can remember when I had my daughter Danielle, and I began reading to her, she would always want to turn the pages, and we would lose ourselves in the illustrations, as she asked questions and cued into the facial expressions illustrated (she was quite intuitive and very intelligent even at a young age) even at the young age of three, she began to see how happy Cinderella finally became after being so miserable in her dysfunctional home. There was a part of me that wanted to tell my daughter that this is make believe, that your fairytale is going to be so different, that having children, paying bills, and making a life will sometimes feel less like a fairytale and more like a vortex of darkness and despair, sucking the last bit of life left in you. That dark days will come, your Prince will cause you pain, you will inevitably cause him pain, and the two of you will sometimes feel more like strangers to each other than a “royal” couple. But I resisted, because for one, I am a good Mom, but I have also come to see that fairytales are what you make them.
So here’s the take away, maybe your Prince doesn’t come to you on a white horse, maybe he comes to you in a red Chevy truck. Maybe your castle is more like a modest ranch in the middle of suburbia, but what makes it rich are the people who dwell within, and maybe some days will feel like a royal pain in the ass, filled with the frenetic motions of work, paying bills, tending to sick loved ones, and raising three amazing human beings.
Then all of a sudden, somewhere in your kingdom, in the midst of the chaos, the squabbling, and tears of life, your Prince comes and rescues you, on his “iron horse” with more burning horsepower than any thoroughbred, and whisks you off to a quiet spot in the woods, where just you and he are, among the singing birds, and chipmunks, letting you know your fairytale is waiting for you to script your happily ever after.