What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

FCN Tales: Cinderella according to F.

Life can really get you down sometimes. I mean, you can get downright depressed. And when that happens, there's nothing like a good fairy tale to brighten your day. The conflict is so perfect; the victory so total. You can't help walking away with a smile, believing that, no matter how bad things get, there's always a way to win out in the end.

Cinderella is one such story. It's an icon of our age and culture. And it's so happy at the end that you might want to save it and come back and read it on a rainy day.

Not that the story gets old. Which is why we're all writing it.

And now, without further hullabaloo, is:


Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, in a land far, far away, around the corner and through the hedges, was a little cottage inhabited by people who didn't care how many commas were in each sentence. Actually, that's a bit deceitful. They didn't care about writing at all. I just started writing the sentence without knowing how I was going to finish and ended up getting all self-conscious about my commas and spoiling a perfectly good start and telling you all about how self-conscious I got about my commas instead of telling you the story. And before I get self-conscious about that run-on sentence, I will hold my breath and plunge right on in to the gory details.

So where was I? Ah yes. Well, let's review the dramatis personae. First, there's the father. Middle-aged, tall, quiet, a bit of a pushover. A widower. Cinderella was born by his first wife. Ugly Betty was born by his second wife. Likes a good cigar. Wears terrycloth and twead a lot. Doesn't show up in the story at all. The wife, Ugly Sue, is ugly and mean. Pushes everyone around, especially Cinderella. Makes her sit in the ashes after the fire's gone out. Father is too much of a pushover to stop it. Insomniac. Reads horoscopes and romance novels. Ugly Betty is ugly and mean. Gets all the privileges of the house by being Ugly Sue's favorite. Doesn't like green vegetables. Cinderella is beautiful and gracious. Quietly submits to abuse from Ugly Sue. Loves chocolate. Wears rags. Doesn't get out much.

And there's a fifth character worth describing, though he didn't live in the cottage. Prince Charming - dashing and handsome. No bad habits. Dreamy. A bit melodramatic. Likes riding horses and saving helpless damsels. Was emo in his teen years. Doesn't get along with dragons. Slightly obsessive compulsive. Allergic to peanuts.

So. Let's dig in.

One day, as the King was strolling the ramparts of his tower and surveying his kingdom, his eagle eye fell upon his son.

"Say, Chancellor," Said he, stroking his white beard, "How old is our son?"

"Twenty-two, sire," said the Chancellor.

"And not yet married?"

"Not in the least."

"And not yet engaged?"

"Not even close."

"And not interested?"

"Not really."

"Well, why not?"

"He has yet to find a girl to strike his fancy, sire."

"Poppycock. There are plenty of girls around here who would suit nicely."

"As you say, sire."

The King absently flicked a pebble over the edge of the wall. It plummeted half a mile and struck a passing chicken, who went on to become one of the greatest minds of the age. It died two years later of a heart attack apparently brought on by the stress of not being taken seriously by the scientific community.

Anyway, the king was none too pleased with his son's picky attitude, but decided that he would do what he could to solve the problem. So he issued a decree that there would be a magnificent three-day ball held for the Prince, and that every girl in the land who could be considered even remotely eligible for marriage was to attend. This was to be the greatest female grocery store since the days of Xerxes the Second.

In accordance with the decree, Ugly Betty and Ugly Sue adorned themselves with the nicest clothes they could find and set off the for the ball, saying nothing to poor Cinderella, who sat in the ashes crying all night as she always did. Yes, I know I told you that Ugly Sue was already married. But Ugly Sue wasn't a very scrupulous person. Thankfully for everyone, the Prince didn't take much interest in her.

As in, none at all.

Ugly Sue and Ugly Betty were unfazed, and came home chattering excitedly about the ball. The colors! The dances! The food! The music! The clothes! They talked until sunrise, then fell asleep, exhausted.

Poor Cinderella heard every word they said, and when she was sure they were asleep, she burst into tears (again). "Alas!" She sobbed. "I'll never get to go to balls or look pretty or meet cute boys or wear nice clothes!" She wasn't a shallow person, but she liked partying as much as anyone, and it was only natural of her to get upset.

The next day, her step-mother and step-sister adorned themselves in their second-best dresses and headed off for the ball. Cinderella watched them go from her ash heap, beside herself with social agony.

Sometimes, when we're in fits of extreme emotion, we fall into cosmic grooves that cause spasms of soul energy to ... well. There was a lot of friction on dimensions we can't see, and suddenly, Cinderella found herself standing out in the front lawn in a beautiful sky blue dress made of the lightest, softest material she'd ever felt. Her skin was clean of ash marks, her hair was arrayed in the latest style, and a few pieces of tasteful jewelry adorned her in pretty places. A carriage with six white horses trotted up the lane and stopped beside her. The driver hopped lightly down from his box, opened the door, and unfolded the steps.

"Your carriage awaits, m'lady," He said cheerily.

"What is this?" Cinderella asked.

"It's ... a ... carriage," Said the driver.

Satisfied for the moment but still mildly confused, Cinderella mounted up to see where this strange adventure would take her. She was thinking, as we all do when things like this happen: "I must be dreaming."

Well, she wasn't dreaming, and she absolutely crashed the ball. The Prince fell madly in love with her on the spot, and they danced all night oblivious of everyone else, a fact which did not escape the delighted eyes of the King and Chancellor.

"A fitting match," Said the King. "Obviously a Princess of some sort. Who is she, anyway?"

The Chancellor tried to find out, but no one recognized her, not even Ugly Sue or Ugly Betty. The Chancellor politely waited until a dance finished and approached Cinderella to discreetly ask her name, but the girl was staring at the Prince (who was staring back) and completely ignored him.

Cinderella left the ball early and had the driver hide his coach behind the house to await her signal. Then she hid her dress under the couch, donned her rags, and sat down in the ash-heap as usual.

In came Ugly Sue and Ugly Betty, who could talk of nothing but the mysterious young lady who had caught the Prince's eye. They walked around talking all night, bumping into things and giggling. At one point, the slightly intoxicated Ugly Betty fell down on the living room carpet and - alas! - espied the dress under the couch. She pulled it out, squealing with delight, and paraded it around the house. Being a girl of very little sense or restraint, she tried the dress on immediately, and, after several hours of partying, during which she accumulated quite a few minor rips and spills, she fell asleep on the back porch. Ugly Sue had already passed out.

The Uglies had a big fight the next morning over the dress. Ugly Sue won out, but the spoils won were so badly damaged in the fight that they were nearly unwearable. The dress had dreadful tears all over. The gloves had holes. The necklace was snapped. The stone on the ring had fallen out. The heel on the left shoe was gone. Etc etc etc. Ugly Sue was oblivious to these deformities and set off for the ball with the bitterly angry Ugly Betty.

Cinderella burst into tears again. "What now?" She cried as the cheerful driver pulled the horses round to pick her up. "All I have is rags!"

For reasons that, of course, are extremely difficult to understand, another stroke of good fortune befell our friend Cinderella. She found herself standing in what was, according to many experts, the prettiest outfit ever made. It was rather unconventional - gleaming white dress, glass accessories - but it worked. Cinderella looked absolutely angelic.

Off she went to the ball, and once again, she and Charming got along smashingly. Just before midnight, the prince ushered the target of his affections into the palace garden for a romantic stroll.

"Why did you leave early last night?" He asked.

"It's complicated," She said.

"I love long stories," He said.

"You wouldn't like this one," She said.

"I like everything about you," He said.

"You don't know much about me," She said.

"Well, let's take a chance," He said.

"It's working," Whispered the King, watching the scene unfold from his tower with the aid of a telescope. "It's working wonderfully!"

Cinderella hesitated. She had every reason to believe that the prince had only fallen for her because of her looks, and she wasn't quite ready to show him her true self and call the whole thing off. Yet, he seemed trustable enough. It was at this moment of indecision that the cosmic friction caught up with her. To Cinderella's horror, she felt the dress begin to melt away back to the rags they had been. She looked around frantically for a means of escape. There was a long flight of stone steps and a low hedge to jump to reach the road. From there, she could hide in the shadows and sneak back to her carriage, to await the friction of tomorrow night.

Without further hesitation, our heroine broke into a run.

"Wait!" Cried the prince. "Am I rushing things? I'm sorry! We can take it slower if ..."

Cinderella took the steps three at a time. The glass slippers were hard to run in, and one of them slid off her foot in her haste to escape. She bounded through the hedge and found the slowly-melting carriage waiting for her in the street.

"Get back home! Quick!" She cried as she mounted up. The carriage rode half the distance before it melted into the ground. She ran the rest of the way in her rags, crying again. The only things that stayed intact were her slippers, one of which she had left behind.

The next morning found the whole kingdom in an uproar. The love-struck prince was desperate to find his love. Eager to please, the king dispatched his soldiers to every town and village with orders to leave no stone unturned in search of the beautiful damsel. The soldiers went through Cinderella's house but only saw two ugly women and a cinder girl.

A week later, the soldiers returned to the King, empty-handed.

The prince was not one to give up so easily. "I've got her glass slipper," He said. "If I can just find the foot that can fit into it, I'll have my girl!" So he began the incredibly tedious process of going from door to door and asking every woman in the house to try on the slipper. Four months of searching went by before the not-a-little-discouraged prince arrived at the humble home of the Uglies.

The moment Cinderella saw the prince outside, her face gained such a healthy, happy color that even the dim-witted Ugly Betty discerned the truth. Being mean as well as dim-witted and ugly, Ugly Betty vowed to herself that if she couldn't have the prince, no one could. She answered the door.

"Uglies?" The prince asked, involuntarily recoiling in horror at the sight of Ugly Betty.

"That's us," Said Ugly Sue, brushing past her daughter with bare feet. "Let's see the slipper, honey."

Ugly Sue tried desperately to squeeze her foot into the slipper, but to no avail.

"All right," Said the prince politely, eager to move on to more promising houses. "Let's move it right along."

Then Ugly Betty went. But, knowing her foot wouldn't possibly fit into the slipper, Ugly Betty had glued a small spike to the underside of her foot, and when she tried to jam it in, the glass shattered.

"No!" Cried the prince. "Now I'll never find her."

"Ow!" Cried Ugly Betty, discovering the inevitable result of jamming your foot into something when it is tied to a spike.

The prince picked up the broken pieces, shaking his head. He would never be able to put it back together the way it had been. Then a familiar voice sounded from the doorway.

"Can I try?"

The prince looked up and saw Cinderella, but he didn't recognize her. "I'm afraid you're too late," He said. "The slipper is shattered."

"That's all right," Said Cinderella, stepping out of the cottage into the light. "I've got a spare."

And indeed she did. Cinderella was wearing the other glass slipper. "It's you!" Cried Charming, beside himself with joy. "But how ..."

"It's complicated," She said.

"I love long stories," He said.

And they (Charming and Cinderella, not Ugly Sue and Ugly Betty) lived happily ever after.


adrialien said...

But what happened to the uglies? I wanna know what happened to them!

Nicely done, btw.

Christopher Yerziklewski said...

Wow. That was absolutely brilliant! I'm so glad the F returnded.

you can call me batman said...

Where's the Fairy Godmother in all of this? or the mice? and WHO IS f? Still good though.

200 said...

Very nice.

Kat said...

You guys missed the links! That's the best part; you should fix that and repost it.

Kat said...

btw, when I said "you guys" I was referring to the FCN crew.

A City in Germany said...

BTW, The dad died, and the step sisters had their eyes eaten by crows--or ravens, can't quite remember which....

you can call me batman said...

oh, yeah, THAT'S something to put in a happy fairy tale... lol.

anonymouse said...

I have no idea the way the fariy tale really goes!

Lindsey said...

That was absolutely awesome... *grin* This re-telling is a thousand times better than the real story- especially the little addition of the unfortunate chicken with heart failure, and all those other completely random details that I don't remember being in the original version. :D