GOLDIE LOCKS & the fairytales of marriage...
I get a lot of questions about marriage in general. But before I get to those, I'd like to share with you the following:
About a year ago a close personal friend sent me a one line e-mail joke that I thought had potential but just didn’t find funny enough. I decided to undertake the creative process myself and see if I couldn’t write the story behind the story. This convoluted little ditty is the result. I hope you enjoy.
Upon a sundry and fragrant spring afternoon, as the richened honeysuckle bowed its luscious petals to the dampened earth, there arose a sudden clatter from the thicket amidst blind arrogance and good natured human folly. It was a heated revelry at Ye Ol’ Baumgarten Beerhouse where three mythical characters; Sleeping Beauty, Tom Thumb, and Quasimodo were celebrating their recent conquests at a county fair. Tongues began to loosely waggle.
Throwing her jewel encrusted gauntlet into the smoldering embers of a fire that refused to perish, Sleeping Beauty reaffixed her bodice. She had been wildly carousing in the backroom with yon youthful stable hand behind Prince Charming’s back.
For all to hear, she proudly declared, "I believe myself to be the most beautiful girl in the world."
Now, at the end of this lowly drinking establishment Master Thomas Thumb was barely visible from the top of his can of ale.
“Hats off to that,” he emphatically affirmed Beauty’s musings with a hearty swig. After several hours of eyeing the fiery wench from across the hall he had begun to have a little trouble with his tights and needed a moment to adjust his accouterments.
Tom continued with a twinge of sadness, "Alas, I must acknowledge myself to be the smallest person in this room, if not, indeed, within the whole of this miserable world that has been tailored for the tall and well hung."
From his stool at the bar, Quasimodo let out a robust cackle. He was proud of his own swarthy girth, yet never able to convince local maidens that it was worth the taking, once they had the chance to gaze upon the rest of him. The prospect of internet dating might have served this disfigured puddle of wasted flesh, if it were not for the fact that four hundred years of progress separated his loppy loins from the state of technological progress.
Quoth he, "Then I indeed am the unhappiest of men, for I must to be the ugliest person in the world.”
No one challenged his protestation.
Sleeping Beauty, however, suddenly felt herself equal to a toast.
“To ye ugly and ye little man, and to me-self – it’s time to put all speculation to rest. To horse and hound. We’ll up the embankment, and on to yonder Guinness Book of World Records to have our vanity in these claims verified and preserved.”
“What for?” mused Tom from his semi-bitter state of regret. You see, the cobbler’s lifts, that he had paid a king’s ransom for, had failed to raise his height to a level where self-confidence was not an issue.
“Why, for posterity,” said Beauty, “and prestige, and getting tussled in the back of me carriage with my boomin’ Master of the bow and arrow.”
She paused a moment with reddening her cheeks. Her eyes were affixed to the likes of Robin Hood for some time. Maid Marianne, who knew of Beauty’s sultry ambitions for trophy men, glared at her from behind the bar.
“He won’t be shootin’ his arrows at your place Dearie,” she told Beauty.
“We’ll see, cockleshell,” Beauty replied.
Quickly reckoning her thoughts, she slung a supple arm about Tom’s stool.
“Think of it then, me short round rum pot, you shall have your pick of haute and exclusive vixens to who yesterday would not have looked upon your centimeter but to spit on its tip with daft ambition that ye might grow.
How now, Pinocchio, to be at the centre of life’s party than its usual errant bug that someone with clunky boot and clumsy head might thwallup until ye be as buggered as that caterpillar in yonder dust-ridden corner.
Sakes and saints alive! Tis the late Jiminey Cricket!”
A moment of silence was observed by all.
“Fi,” said Quasi, “There’s a succulent wench; self-reliant, determined, and full of busty stature. She will ney see the lass in this village put her to task or test.”
You see, Quasi was aware that Snow White and Cinderella were within ear-shot at ye old bustier maker’s shop across the way. Though convinced for many a blue moon and balls that neither held a harpsichord to Beauty’s beauty, Quasi also realized that there was nothing barring Cindi or Snow from challenging her title, should either take it into their flaxen fairytale head to try.
Several years before, he might have added Rapunzel to the list of potential usurpers. But since her run in and wild goings on with Nimble Jack, of ‘the candle stick’ fame, Rapu’ was rather beached and haggard by most modest accounts of feminine beauty. To avoid a catfight, Quasi suggested to Beauty and Thumb that they depart immediately for yonder city heights.
Not that he was above a slovenly wrestle in the mud or behind the stables. But such a confrontation might ruin Beauty’s chances for immortality if the struggle left marks. If nothing else, Cindi had proven a solid left hook at last year’s ultimate kingdom fighting championships.
“Who’ll drive the horses?” said Tom.
“Why I shall,” replied Quasi, stumbling over his sword en route to the coach and four white horses that Beauty had won in her first divorce settlement.
“Not ye,” Tom smiled, “You’re as drunk as me old lady and twice as ugly as she ever was for seeing - even on her worst day.”
“Then you,” Quasi declared, “Take one reign and you’re sure to be trampled underfoot of those magnificent beasts. Foolish midget! Dastardly inch-boy! Ye ain’t got it in you to be no more than a squackle of a squig.”
Though Tom knew neither of the ‘squackle’ nor the ‘squig’ he nevertheless was quite certain both were taller than he, and relented his ambition to drive.
“A pox on both ye fat stupid heads,” said Beauty, “I shall punt this coach to town me-self, or lash you both to its undercarriage for a good thrashing.”
She paused in sweet remembrance, “Hmm, the prince used to actually prefer it that way…at least on occasion.”
“Prince Charming?” inquired Quasi.
“No, Prince Charles,” corrected Beauty, “I get around.”
So, after much reckoning of sport and savvy, these three unlikely cur-bob-kins drove their team to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Upon arrival, Quasimoto asked for a pint of their very best, and was quickly disillusioned into sullenness and despair at discovering that no alcohol was served on the premises.
“What magpie ladled in witches brew concocted the name of Guinness, when there’s not a drop of Guinness to be drunk?” he inquired.
But before he could be answered, Beauty pushed her way past them all, disappearing into the back chamber with the fiery young keeper of the records to settle her state her affairs.
After several hours, in which some polite moaning and echoes of soft slapping were thought to have been heard, - presumably in haste of temperament and fruitful discussion on the matter at hand, though ye may draw ye own conclusions to better effect - Beauty emerged, a tad disheveled and slightly sweaty.
She declared with delirium, “It is official. I AM the most ravishing creature in all the world.”
Tom Thumb decided to go next. After all, there was no reason to wake Quasi from his stupor when his own immortality had not yet been accounted.
Disappearing for only several moments behind a curtain, Tom emerged with a perplexed look about him, stating rather bluntly, “The keeper has lipstick all over his face and seems to be missing his royal academy pin.”
“I keep souvenirs,” she whispered to Quasi, then aloud, “Never mind that, you fatty dimple on the thigh of humanity, tell us – what of your claim.”
“Oh,” replied Tom sheepishly, “It was naturally approved. I am now officially the smallest man in the world.”
“Out of me way, thimble head,” shouted Quasimoto with pride, “I’m off to have my ugliness recorded.”
But after only seconds in the chamber, the hunchback returned with a look of complete disbelief about his visage.
“Who the hell is this Camilla Parker Bowles, then?" he asked.
… and the morale of the story is, anybody can write a witty one-line gag. It takes a real writer with time on his hands to blow things all out of proportion.
Hope you had a jolly good time reading this. I had a magnificent moment in squeezing it from me-self. Yoiks and tally-ho!
...and now, your questions of grand amour and the wedding band answered by,
the crabby critic
My sister is obsessed about her wedding. It’s not until September. I mean, she’s nuts. She’s bossing everybody around, throwing temper tantrums and absolutely obsessed about the cake, dresses, and preparations. She’s visited the baker seven times in one week. During all this time she’s hardly spent any minute with her fiancée. He doesn’t seem to mind but I think she’s going to regret all this craziness later. What do you think?
Cokey from Maryland
Your sister’s kooky.
But I must say that she’s almost par for the course from what I’ve seen of the current crop of ‘modern’ brides. Nothing deranges a woman’s mind more than the wedding day.
A pity that most don’t look beyond to see the life of interment that awaits just beyond that brief 24 hour horizon. I think our culture’s current obsession with weddings has gone way off the charts.
I remember sitting in a theater when the movie “Father of the Bride” with Steve Martin came out and listening to every woman in the audience simply gush and sigh at the first sight of the “supposedly homey” reception. To be sure, it was a poignantly lavish affair and impressive to say the least. But THAT’S A MOVIE – LADIES!!! It’s not real life. Unfortunately, it seems that every young Miss about to become Mrs. fancies herself the mistress of just such a maison.
But you know what they say – when it’s all about the cake and flowers, start taking bets on the anniversaries. You say that your sister’s fiancée is taking it all in stride. Good for him – he’ll have a much better time on the day of than your sister will. She’ll spend the bulk of hers calling up the limo service and the caterer, primping the shoulder sleeves of the bride’s maid dresses, and her own, and running in and out of the kitchen at the reception, just to make certain that the soup is hot and the ice cream cold.
Poor girl. She’ll need a couple thousand in psychotherapy and a really virulent sugar/caffeine fix to bring her down after all the rice has been pitched. Yes, Cokey…I think sis’ needs a reality check too. But if I were you, I wouldn’t want to be the one to give it to her. Leave that up to her new husband. Trust me – if he’s that easy going, it won’t take long for reality to set in.
The crabby critic
Dear C.C. –
My mother has been giving me all sorts of advice about how to ‘behave’ after I marry my fiancée. We’re tying the knot on April 2 of this year. She’s been divorced now for almost eight months and ever since the decree was official she’s been dictating what NOT to do to have a happy marriage. Personally, I’m getting sick of it. What should I do?
Shelly in Thompsonville
Let ma’ get whatever’s eating her off her chest. More than likely she’s just overly sensitive – given her own divorce – that you don’t wind up like her. It’s a fear bordering on a phobia that you get and stay married until death do you part. If you like, wear earplugs while ma’s dishing it out. But if I were you – I wouldn’t put much stock in her ‘TO DO’ list. It certainly won her no points in her own marriage.
The Crabby Critic
My mother-in-law hates my guts. I don’t know why. Ever since we announced our engagement she’s been telling my future husband that I’m no good for him and that I won’t make him happy. She’s even said these things in front of me. I don’t want to start out a life together with this family rift. What should I do?
Fran in Louisiana
What proof has she to offer that you’re ‘no good’ for him and ‘won’t make him happy’? If the answer is NONE then she’s clearly a spiteful and manipulative woman who’s not really looking after her son’s best interests. She’d hate his fiancée whether it was you or the grocery store clerk. If you are the picture of propriety and decorum then I would completely ignore your mother-in-law’s comments – hurtful as they may be.
But I’m also on your side if you’d like to simply call it a day on your marriage and find someone else whose mother won’t think you’re the anti-Christ. Bottom line: your husband has to be the man in this equation. He has to sit his mother down and say, “Okay, ma. Why isn’t Fran good for me? Give or show me the reasons.” If you’ve nothing to hide she won’t have any ammo to offer – hence, your future husband will know who’s telling him the truth.
But if she says something like, “here’s the police reports about her heroin smuggling and prostitution, and the eight by tens of Fran coming out of a Motel 6 with some guy named Oogy” then you may very well NOT be GOOD ENOUGH for her son.
Either way, this little bru-ha is between your future husband and his mother. Stay out of it. Don’t be in the room, or even the house for that matter, when he puts the question to his mother. She’ll be more inclined to tell him whatever she thinks he ought to know without you being there.
Then you and your husband should have a very frank discussion about what was said. You don’t have to defend yourself. This isn’t confrontational. But if she told her boy that you were involved in the slave trade in the Philippians while having lusty affairs with a French banana plantation owner and his nine swarthy brothers…you should be able to offer sufficient proof to the contrary that will lay all these suspicions at the bottom of the compost heap.
One thing you should be made aware of right now…her badgering isn’t likely to go away any time soon. This is why I say, if you just want to walk away from it all right now, I support your decision completely. Married life is tough enough when both families are simply ecstatic about their son and daughter’s choice of mate. But it’s a particularly hard sell when you know that every family reunion, birthday and Christmas party is going to be a six-gun showdown between you and the other side.
Take care, Fran…oh, and watch your back.
The crabby critic
Dear C.C. –
The last of my close friends is getting married in June. That leaves me the only single in the group. I feel so alone. It’s like everyone’s looking at me all the time and wondering why I’m not getting married. I’m not even dating anyone right now. What can I do to stop feeling so anxious about it all the time?
Joyce in Manhattan
Get some new friends – some single ones. But keep the married ones. They’re not looking at you as the cross-eyed mute with a genital wart condition half as much as you think they are. They’re much too busy cultivating a life together with their respective spouses. If you feel insecure about being single, then the feeling is probably more about your perception of you than theirs.
You know, I say this a lot, but I’ll say it again for your benefit. There are WORSE things than being SINGLE in this world. There are also quite a few advantages to being single too. You can spread out in bed like a peace sign if you choose without having to apologize for sticking a finger or fist into some undesirable spot on someone else’s body. You can do what you like when you come home from work instead of thinking ‘I must rush home to put in that casserole.’ You can go for visits or vacations without consulting someone else’s time schedule. You can flirt with immunity. You can do only the things you like to do without having to worry that you’re hogging or monopolizing somebody else’s interests and/or time.
But get a clue: If you think of yourself as the oddball you’re likely to send off ‘oddball’ vibes to guys who might otherwise find you attractive. If I were you, I certainly wouldn’t jump head over nylons into the gunny sack of the first young stud with a tongue piercing and shaved head that thinks you’re definitely his kind of woman. You’ll just wind up getting hurt that way.
If you really want to get married but are just feeling awkward about throwing your heart in the ring again, why don’t you start by cultivating some habits and hobbies that will place you in a target rich environment for attracting Mr. Right? In Manhattan that shouldn’t be too hard to do.
Go to church.
Join a health club.
Jog in Central Park - but during a respectable hour of the day; no four o’clock a.m. winos or guys asking how much for six minutes in the back of their Oldsmobile.
Attend live theater with friends.
Attend any function that puts you in proximity to people you want to get to know better.
Get involved in volunteer groups that you have a genuine interest in.
Any fellow you meet at these venues will likely share a lot of your interests too.
Just remember, Joyce – not all of Manhattan plays like a thirty minute episode of ‘Sex in the City’. That’s fiction. This is your life. Go out and live it.
The crabby critic
My girlfriend is hounding me to get married. Every time I pick her up to go out the subject of marriage works its way into our conversations. We’ve been seeing each other for five months. The last time we went out to dinner with friends it was all she could talk about until I finally told her to knock it off. Needless to say, nobody enjoyed their meal that night. What can I do to get my girlfriend off my back?
Roy in Fowlerville
Flip onto your stomach.
But seriously, your girlfriend sounds desperate and crazed. Discussing marriage is a healthy part of any dating relationship. In fact, more people should get whatever preconceived notions they have about a life after “I do” before saying “I do.” But you’re babe doesn’t care enough about the here and now to make for a worthwhile life together post-rice pitching. Clearly, for her, the be-all and end-all of this relationship will only come after you’ve plunked that hunk of gold or silver on the third finger of her left hand.
Personally, I think she’s taking the Cracker Jack approach to marriage…you know, eating all the candy first and as fast as she possibly can, just to get to the prize at the bottom?!
I mean, what does she think is going to happen after she gets that ring? Does she think all this early boredom with acquiring the ring is going to miraculously disappear?
Your girlfriend strikes me as an ambitious predator – someone who wants what she wants when she wants it…that is, until she gets it…then she doesn’t want it anymore. Now, I wouldn’t suggest you run out and buy her a diamond just yet – at least, not in the hopes that she’ll simply decided she doesn’t want to get married and thereafter resorts to either great sex or no sex or dumping your trusting patooty into the dumpster when the next eligible male with honorable intensions and an empty ring finger comes along.
But I can tell that YOU – Roy – ARE NOT READY TO GET MARRIED. The biggest mistake you could do right now is get engaged. Maybe the most prudent thing for you would be to sit down with your girlfriend and have a conversation about why it is you DON’T WANT TO MARRY. That might clear the air.
You could say, “I like you, but I want us to spend more time together before we make it legal” or “I just need more time and don’t like to be forced into anything” or…and this is only if you’re 100% certain about the outcome, “It’s going to happen…just not now, or in the near future. Give me some breathing space.”
If none of these subtle objections work – and girlfriend kicks into “So when is it going to be time?” mode, then the next time she brings up the subject of getting a ring, my suggestion is that you drive her to the nearest tattoo parlor and innocently ask, “Will that be nose, toe or nipple?”
The crabby critic