Once upon a time, there was a young woman who thought herself a Feminist. She frequented bookstores, favored espresso, and sneered at domesticity. Our young Feminist eschewed practical clothing for tie-dye leggings, a worn black leather biker jacket, and matching knee-high boots (with gorgeous, thick metal buckles). She had aspirations: Academe! Art! Revolutionary gender politics! A life without gainful employment! Then, the philosophically unacceptable occurred. She met her Prince Charming. He was tall, dark, and handsome. Even as our bold Prince applauded said aspirations, he swept Feminist off her booted feet with his dark-eyed, guitar-wielding, baleful voiced ways. Plus, he had a job! Their desire to toss a party was stronger than doubt about state-sanctioned unions: they got married. Despite being steeped in the ordinary (house, spouse, higher education, career) they considered themselves out of step with much of America and were happy.
Our Feminist and Prince were worried. Unmoored. Adrift in domesticity. Guitars had been laid to rest since the Prince began his steady ascent into the Kingdom of Real Estate. Musical compositions were limited to lullabies and bribes. Still, Prince secured his family in a lovely castle and learned to be skillful with drills and saws and other strange equipment. Our brave Feminist was reduced to practical shoes and peanut-butter stained sweatshirts. She spent most of her waking hours moving items from where they were dropped to where they were stored. Still, she toiled nights (for four years) to write a dissertation and two novels (if one were to count – and she wouldn’t – that would be 852 high quality pages).
When the final set of surprises arrived, our sweet Prince and Feminist dubbed him Merrick Ramone and waited for the castle to crumble under all this cultural freight: the mini-van; the three children; the over-educated and underemployed, politically active Feminist; the businessman Prince who can close a deal, then change a diaper and call a doll by her brand-given name; and the two dogs (ancient, yet still able to knock over a toddler for his cookie without panting).
But the final set of surprises acted strangely. He failed to throw tantrums or fling heavy culinary tools. He forgot to hurl himself down stairs or pitch fits in grocery store. Indeed, Prince Charming Junior was just that: charming. He puckered his lips for kisses from Feminist, gasped and clapped when Prince Charming Senior sang, worshiped at the pink-feathered feet of Diva, and handed over anything anyone gave him to the King of Commerce.
The castle did not crumble. Indeed, unforeseen events occurred. The King of Commerce matured and his mercenary interests took a softer shape. He (and Feminist) formed a ‘boys book club’ of hard-reading eight year olds that was featured in the St. Paul paper. He took up Art and won third place in the Minnesota State Fair for his painting. Our future King took on an alarming number of Hermit Crabs (caged in a room in the castle) as his first subjects. He acquired his first pair of reading glasses. He engaged in Sport, trying his foot first at skiing and then at soccer. He found solace in the company of other future Kings, all first-born, seeking their fortunes in computer games, cards, tag, comics, and an array of wild outdoor, dirty Activity that Feminist didn’t understand but that made Prince Charming Senior smile fondly.
Unforeseen—and slightly more exciting—events occurred around Diva as well. She too subjected her pink slippered foot to Sport, but recoiled in agony. Downhill skiing? Never again. Soccer? Only if she can hold a pom-pom and lead a cheer. Diva established her reign in First Grade and became an exceptional reader. One full moon, she astounded her parents by changing her name to Louisa. Lest Prince and his Feminist forget, she created small nametags for all of her clothing. Diva-Louisa took up Art with zeal: piano, ballet, and painting. Her Minnesota State Fair entry inched past her brother’s: she won a red ribbon for second place (Foul, cried King of Commerce). On another full moon, Diva-Louisa announced that she was now to be known as Tomboy. Under the delighted consul of King of Commerce, Diva-Louisa-Tomboy stripped her room of sequins and pulled on a pair of jeans. She also composed original songs and ordered Prince Charming to accompany her on the guitar, performing wherever an audience was to be found (or forced). By any name, our sweet Diva delighted in an audience and understood the value of Drama.
Since the castle did not crumble after all, our dear Feminist and her Prince took up the fine art of Hosting. They threw parties and potlucks; they held political gatherings (think Progressive Minnesota and MoveOn!). Feminist created a “Salon” for mothers, nights of thought, talk, and beverage for smart women trapped in, and struggling against, Stereotype. And even when Feminist’s writing career faltered, she rose again like Cher to strap on a new headdress and fresher face and try, try, try again. The Kingdom shall see and admire her books, one day. Meanwhile, she entertains herself teaching college youth the tools of her trade and putters about online.