Sleeping Beauty, the Real Story

We all know the story of Sleeping Beauty. A prince kissed her to wake her up from a one-hundred-year long nap. Kind of makes Rip Van Winkle look like an amateur. There was such a sexual attraction between the two that they immediately did the deed. She did not fake her orgasm. When you’ve gone without for one hundred years, any prince will do. If not a prince, a carpenter or a woodsman, even a kitchen knave. Then came the marriage and they lived happily ever after.

That’s the story anyway. The one that the prince’s press agent put out for public consumption. When you’re a prince, you’ve got to keep up your image. But the story wasn’t true. Just look at Prince Charles. As soon as the public heard about the scrap he had with Diana, his poll numbers went down, not just in onesies and twosies but in decades.

A prince couldn’t afford to have his image tarnished like that. Especially in the olden days. Pretty soon there’d be a ruckus in the kingdom, the common folk in an uproar, and the prince hightailing it for God-knows-where. Don’t believe me? Just look at King John. In 1215, he had a Magna Carta shoved up his rump.

It is true how Beauty ended up in bed for that one hundred years. Her Mommy and her Dads gave a humungous eighteenth birthday gala for the Princess, the apple of their eye, the darling of the kingdom’s town crier society. When everybody’s back was turned, the Wicked Witch of the West, yes that witch, spiked Beauty’s chalice of Kickapoo Joy Juice with a mickey.

Why she did it, no one seems to know. Speculation is the Land of Oz had gotten boring and she had way too much time on her hands. What better way to bring excitement to her lackadaisical life than to show up in another fairy tale and mess things up royally for the fairy princess. Otherwise she had to go and tangle with Dorothy, and Dorothy was more than a handful.

Even though Beauty hated the taste of the Kick, she had manners up the wazoo. Etiquette said that a princess didn’t refuse a drink at her own birthday bash. So she sipped, then she was out like a light. Folks at the party thought she was dead. The royal doc advised the king and queen she was only asleep.

Wicked Witch didn’t want to kill the sweet young thang. She wasn’t a murderer. She just wanted to create some mischief. The potion would make Beauty sleep until a prince came along and kissed her ruby reds. I’m not talking shoes here. I’m talking lips.

Mommy and Dads Royal laid their precious child in a glass coffin for all to see and put her on an IV for nourishment. Then they sent for princes. Few showed. The few who showed weren’t about to kiss a princess in a coma no matter how lovely she was. They were afraid they would catch whatever she caught.

Time passed as it was bound to. Mommy and Dads died. The kingdom was taken over by a Regent. Regent wasn’t about to surrender his regency. He moved the coffin way out of sight. His thoughts on the matter: “Out of sight, out of mind.” An adviser suggested he do her in, but he wasn’t about to commit regicide. Regicides have consequences.

Pretty soon a hundred years passed. All that time Beauty dreamed. Being a beautiful princess, there wasn’t a nightmare among the bunch.

In her dreams, there were wonders her waking life never suspected. Paris in the springtime and walks by the Seine. Old Kyoto with its temples and cherry blossoms. Strolls by the fountains of Rome. Pyramids, the Sphinx and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. And oh, the food she ate. Sushi in Tokyo. Pizza in Rome. Koushari in Cairo. Paella in Barcelona. Not once did she gain a pound. It was heaven.

One particular dream put a huge smile on her face. There was this kingdom that needed a princess. It had snow ice caps and meadows with the loveliest of flowers. The people were all dressed in their traditional garb. No suits and ties for the guys or no formal dresses for the gals like it had been in her Daddy’s kingdom. It was love at first sight when Beauty saw the place. She volunteered to be their princess.

“Now that we have a princess,” the king, with his gentle eyes, kind smile and long white beard, said, “we need a prince.”

“But, Sire, we do have a prince,” his adviser said. “Remember he was turned into a frog by that Wicked Witch of the West. If our little princess kisses him on the lips, he will snap back to his princely self. And we can have a wedding.”

“Well, where is he?”

“Last we saw him he was down at the pond with all the other frogs. We’re not exactly sure which one he is.”

“You know what that means?” the king said.

“It means the princess is going to have to kiss a lot of frogs,” the adviser said, then turned to Beauty. “You willing to do that?”

She smiled and agreed. “Sacrifices must be made.”

The local frog-caller did his thing. Pretty soon a line of frogs waited for a smooch. And smooching there was. Beauty must have kissed a thousand frogs. The final frog, a rather handsome fellow, if a frog can be considered handsome. This frog approached Beauty, bowed politely and jumped up on her lap. She leaned down to kiss him, then—

She woke up. This old guy stood over her, slobbering all over her mouth. “Son of a bitch, why the whatever did you want to do that for?” she screamed and sat up.

“I’m your Prince Charming.” The old guy was shocked. After that incident with Cindy Rella and the shoes, he had spent fifty years searching for Miss Right. Here she was and she was not happy. He’d done the right thing. He’d chanced getting whatever she had and falling into a stupor. Now she too was rejecting him. What was a Prince Charming to do?

She pushed PC away.”You’re not my prince. No wonder I woke up. What with your b.o. and halitosis. You need to see a doctor for that stuff. And have you taken a look at your face lately? Warts.”

What happened next? It’s a sad tale. Prince Charming returned home to his castle. There he lived until he was one hundred and seventy-five. He died of a broken heart.

And the fate of Princess Beauty? She went in search for that one-in-a-million frog. Every time she came across a frog she picked the creature up and kissed it. Some say she is still searching. So, if you see a lovely young lady in your part of town kissing frogs, leave her alone. It’s just Beauty trying to find her Beastie.

Leave well enough alone

Windmills. Don Quixote saw windmills. He fought windmills. He lost to windmills. What would it be like to live under a windmill? It wouldn’t be quiet. Every time the wind blows there would be a constant whirling. Yet Jasmine wanted a windmill.

Chris tried to talk her out of it. Nope. There was no talking her out of it.

“Why do you want a windmill?” he asked her.

“I had a dream when I was a kid.”

“There you go. You and your dreams.”

Time and time again she brought up her dreams. When they first met, she had dreamed she was going to marry an engineer. Chris was an engineer.

They bought cars based on her dreams. They went on vacations to places that appeared in her dreams. One time they even had sex based on a dream. It was a position she saw in the dream.

Now this. They were going to spend a fortune for a house underneath a windmill. And it wasn’t even that good of a windmill. There were parts of it falling down. One blade rested vertically in the ground. It was older than the house. An older house had been torn down and replaced by the current house.

That night Chris had a dream. And it scared the hell out of him. Initially he had chalked the dream up to worry. But it came back three, four times. As long as Jasmine wanted that house, he knew the nightmares would not go away.

He told her his dreams. She just laughed. “I’m the dreamer in this family,” she said.

“Well, I’ll buy the house. But I’m not living there.”

“You have to,” Jasmine insisted. When she insisted, she usually got her way.

So Chris bought the house. That first month, no dreams for Chris. Nothing happened in the house. Then Chris began work on the windmill while Jasmine worked on the house. Chris took six months off from his job to do the work. He hired an architect, a contractor and several men to do the work as he oversaw things.

The blade stuck deep in the dirt needed to be pulled out and remounted. Chris wasn’t sure how that the blade had ended a third deep into the ground. It must have been a strong force that plunged that blade into the earth.

The architect, the contractor and Chris sat over plans for several days, discussing ways of getting that blade out. They brought out a bulldozer and mounted a chain to the blade. The blade would not move.

Jasmine came out to where the men worked. She took one look at the chain and the bulldozer. She took Chris aside. “Don’t,” she said.

“Don’t what?”

“Leave the blade alone,”

“Leave the blade alone?”

“Yes,” Jasmine said.

“But it’s got to go. Without a new blade, the windmill will not rotate properly.”

“I don’t care,” she said.

Chris went back to the others. “Okay, guys. Leave the blade be.”

The work continued on the windmill for another month. But Chris was continued to be concerned about the blades.

One morning, over coffee, Jasmine said, “My mother’s sick.”

“Is it serious?”

“I have to go and see her. The doctor says she only has weeks to live.”

“Then you should go.”

Chris watched his wife drive away. Then he went back to the windmill. The stairs and the floor were almost done. For the next three days, the work went well. Chris worked from sun-up to sunset. Each night before he went to bed, he talked to Jasmime about  the windmill, telling her of the progress he was making.

The morning of the third day, he looked at the blade in the ground. He decided the blade had to come out. The next day the contractor brought in the bulldozer and a pulley. The first time they tried, the chain snapped. The second time, the blade moved, then a second chain snapped. Finally, the third chain held and the blade gradually pulled loose.

When Jasmine had not heard from Chris for three days, she began to worry. Her phone calls were not answered. Then it hit her. He had gone ahead and pulled the blade loose.

“Oh, no,” she said. “He let them out.”

Near 500 words: The Sixties

The Sixties are a long time gone but lately I have been remembering. During the 1960s, it seemed like everywhere you turned, there were larger-than-life personalities. Not celebrities but people who moved mountains. Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy, Muhammad Ali and Joe Namath.

Every night we turned on the TV and there was Uncle Walter and Johnny Carson to guide us. Carol Burnett made us laugh our booties off. Alan Shepard and John Glenn flew into the outer reaches of space. John Kennedy inspired us to do better for our country and the First Lady showed us style. Popes John XXIII and Paul VI, Billy Graham and the Maharishi quenched our spiritual thirst. Even in the Soviet Union, there was Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

No matter what your political persuasion, there was someone for everyone. Gene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy for the liberals, Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley for the conservatives. And Che Guevara for the radicals.

Ralph Nader, Betty Friedan and Rachel Carson, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Cesar Chavez dreamed big dreams and shared them with the world. The times were changing. Utopia was just around the corner.

We landed a man on the moon and celebrated our freedom at Woodstock. Then the party came tumbling down with a thud at Altamonte.

By the end of the decade, our innocence was buried in the harsh reality that utopias always end in dystopia. Captain America was shot off his mototcycle. The Beatles broke up and Sgt Peppers disbanded his band. That day in April,1970, was more than the day the music died. It was the day our hearts were broken. It was the day the earth opened up and swallowed our hope.

All we were left with was Richard Nixon and Vietnam, and Superman was only a comic book and Batman a TV show. All we were left with was Kent State, OPEC, Watergate, stagflation and the Brady Bunch. The Seventies brought us plop back down to earth. It was like we had been dropped on our heads and we had a hangover like all get-out.

Then came Camp David and “the City Upon a Hill” of Ronald Reagan. The Berlin Wall came crashing down. For one brief moment, there was a Middle East Peace Accord. Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin shook hands. For one brief, shining moment, Camelot was shining again. Only to be brought back to our senses by Y2K and 9/11.

But we can never forget those bonfires of hope shining from the Decade That Was: the Peace Corps and Earth Day, Woodstock and Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. And we still dream of a better world. It’s just going to be a long time coming. As Jessie Jackson says, “Keep hope alive.”

micropoem of the day: insomnia

Boy, last night was wicked. Not matter how hard I tried I couldn’t sleep. I tried counting sheep. I tried counting cats. You name it. I counted anything I could think of. I got up and exercised for twenty minutes. I did need that, but it didn’t help. My mind was in a whirl and it wasn’t going to un-whirl no matter the effort. Maybe it was the Muse keeping me up. She does that, you know. Finally, this little gem came to me. 

waiting for a dream
I toss, I turn, I raise
my shirt like a sail

Near 500 words: The nightmare

“What are you afraid of?” the psychiatrist asked his patient. He sat in a large comfy chair next to his desk.

“I’m afraid something is going to happen to Frankie.” Darla rested her head against the pillow on the couch.

“And what makes you think that?” Dr. Spenser asked, furthering his questions.

“I keep having this nightmare,” Darla said.

“And?” Dr. Spenser scribbled a line on his pad.

Darla hesitated.

“Darla, we’ve only an hour.” Dr. Spenser hated to rush his patient but they did have only an hour.

“George says I am being foolish.”

“Are you being foolish?” Dr. Spenser asked. He always asked obvious questions. It was his way.

“I don’t think so. Frankie’s the only child I can ever have.”

“Anything that happens to him, and that’s it?” The psychiatrist was getting somewhere.

“Yes,” Darla said, hoping for some reassurance.

“You think you have any control over that?” Dr. Spenser started a doodle. His doodles were always helpful. Over the years, he’d never known a doodle to fail.

“No. I don’t.”

“So? Tell me about the dream.”

“Frankie has a dog.”

“Do you have a dog now?” The doodle was slowing coming into a shape.

“Well, no.” Darla’s eyes were closed. She was afraid of the dream but she wanted to give the doctor an accurate picture.

“Continue. Does the dog have a name?”

“Fluffy, I think.”

“You’re not sure.”

“Yes, Fluffy is his name.”

“Sounds like a very nice dog.”

“Oh, he is. And he loves Frankie. At least, at the start of the dream.” Darla opened her eyes. Tears filled them. She decided that she didn’t want to go on.

“Continue. What makes you think there’s a problem?”

Darla resisted, then went on, “Fluffy and Frankie are out running in a field one day.”

“How old is Frankie? In this dream?”

“About eight. Please don’t make me go on.”

“That’s up to you. But naming your fear could be very helpful.” Dr. Spenser looked at the clock on the wall. Forty minutes left of the session. Plenty of time.

“They are running in the park. Then Fluffy turns and—”

“Yes?”

“No, I can’t go on.”

“I see.”

“Tell me what it means.” Darla was desperate to know.

“That you can’t go on? That’s easy. You’re afraid of what happens next.”

“I am.” Darla was crying.

Dr. Spenser reached over to his desk and pulled out a Kleenex and passed it over to Darla. As she cleaned up her tears, he studied his pregnant patient.

“It took us a long time and a lot of effort to get pregnant.”

“And you’re having these nightmares about that child and a dog?”

“I am.”

“What if Frankie doesn’t have a dog?”

“No Fluffy?”

“No Fluffy.”

Darla had never thought of that. It seemed so obvious. “No Fluffy,” she whispered to herself. Then to Dr. Spenser, “But what if he wants a dog?”

“Get him a cat instead.”

Darla smiled and sat up on the couch. She was so relieved.

Dr. Spenser looked at the clock. Fifteen minutes to go. He turned to Darla. “Anything else?”

Darla stood and shook Dr. Spenser’s hand. It was obvious she was relieved.

Dr. Spenser escorted her to the door.

Darla turned and hugged her psychiatrist. Then she went out into the lobby.

Dr. Spenser picked up his pad, stared at the doodle, and smiled. It was of a cat.