You know you’re in a bad state when you’re getting riled by fairy tales.
Unable to sleep one night last week, waiting for my beloved to return from a late shift at the hospital, the kids curled sleeping around me, my mind somehow got caught up in fairy tales that bugged me.
Now, I know people often have it in for Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, one for needing a prince, another for being rather… passive (the whole sleeping through most of the story)… (Please see Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley for a completely un-passive and brilliant re-telling, also Enchantment by Orson Scott Card) but for my money the Princess in the Princess and the Pea takes the cake in bad fairy tale role models.
For those that don’t know the story – it’s about a prince looking for a wife who rides east and west and all over the place looking for a bride and none are right. He returns home in despair and one stormy night a young woman knocks at the door seeing shelter. He likes the look of her and gives the wink to his mother who decides to check if she’s a real princess.
So instead of checking out if she’s kind, intelligent, joyous, well-read, displays good judgement, courage, honesty and persistence in adversity (hey, even fertility would be more useful), she decides to check… how … delicate she is.
As such when the bed is being made for the young woman the Queen hides a pea under the first of a three score of mattresses.
The following morning the Queen and Prince ask the princess how she slept and she says terribly, she’s black and blue from a shocking lump in her bed. And they all rejoice that the girl is a real Princess and she marries the Prince.
As a (hopefully) future mother-in-law, I would not be enraptured to find my future daughter in law got bruises from a Pea buried under 20+ mattresses. How would she survive pregnancy, let alone childbirth? And the toddler years? Not a chance.
That Queen was DENSE. An ability to bruise easily is not what you want in the person responsible for supplying you with grandchildren.
Not to mention it being an indicator for some rather nasty diseases. (Um, yep, there speaks the wife of a med-student...) If someone you love falls ill, that’s another matter – but to go looking for heatbreak? Masochistic.
And how rude! Surely there was a more tactful way to suggest maybe new bedding was required.
Anyway, this is how I spent my tossing and turning.
I could have been thinking up solutions to world poverty… but
Is there a fairy tale that just bugs you?