Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My Cinderella Story


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.

Then, our unsuspecting Feminist and Prince had a baby. And another. And another. And an – (just kidding).

The first set of surprises they called Stryker. He sucked in his first breath and set about the business of systematically dissembling our Feminist’s fundamental beliefs about gender politics and their ability to be revolutionized at all. The future King of Commerce toddled about with sticks and weapons, screeching “bang” while Feminist begged at his feet with pretty cloth toys especially designed to promote world peace. The second set of surprises they called Scarlett. The future Diva dealt a final blow to utopian parenting goals. She adorned herself in all materials Pink before taking up arms with her brother to insure that both poor Feminist and her Prince understood that they knew nothing about anything whatsoever at all.

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.

Perhaps most significantly, our enduring Feminist has discovered that kid goo wipes nicely off a black leather motorcycle jacket. She has observed that hose buckled knee boots look even better on her now than they did, lo, those many years ago. And despite being steeped in the ordinary, she and her Prince (and many many many others) feel once again out of step with much of America. Or, they are changing it.

And they live, happily.


Beth said...

Lovely, well written story, Cinderella!
I noted that the end states, "And they live, happily" - minus the "ever after." True, fairy tale endings don't always take place in real life!

(thanks for visiting my blog...)

Minnesota Matron said...

Beth: I love your blog. Someone asked me why I enjoy blogville so much and it's just a no-brainer: reading and writing! Who could ask for more?

Mrs. G. said...

This is my favorite post of the week, hell the last several weeks. This my kind of fairy tale. I have a similar one of my own. I love to see the word feminist in print--it has so fallen out of popularity, which saddens me because I am a big one.

You are officially added to my blogroll, because I don't want to miss any more of your writing.

Minnesota Matron said...

Thank you, Mrs. G! What a wonderful post to come home, particularly coming from a great writer. And the growing blush becomes me.

Anonymous said...

Funny, sweet and oh so true!

I have a friend who had a boy after having two girls and thought that there was something wrong with him because all he ever did is make noise, break stuff and pee on things. I told her that sounded like a normal day in my house.

Thanks for coming over to visit my blog. I'll be back :)

aaryn b. said...

Bravo! Bravo!
(Tosses flowers from the balcony!)
I am SO glad to have found you, Feminist. Write on and continue to live the fairy tale...

Suburban Correspondent said...

Amazing, isn't it, how much children can teach us about human nature and our place in the world?

Saw you at Mrs. G's blog and stopped by to visit...

Minnesota Matron said...

Thanks for reading, friends! Look for Feminist's return when I post this year's holiday letter. This post was actually a holiday letter from 2004 . . .in the meantime, Brave Feminist remains steadfast!

Melanie said...

This is a great story, truly.

I couldn't find an e-mail address for you, so I'll post here instead:

Since finding you via Mrs. G., I've been enjoying your blog a great deal. I'm kind of finicky about my blog reads, and your writing is really, honestly, satisfyingly well-crafted.

Thanks for the fun. I'll be linking up the Matron.

Murphy's Mom said...

WOW! Best post ever! better late than never I guess. I am looking forward to catching up on more recent posts. later gator!

elaine@bloginmyeye said...

I love your story. Badmom sent me to read your cancer story. Your life is truly blessed.

Princess New York said...

Oooh I'm so happy to meet you! (Please ignore my Midwestern tastelessness comment in my last post. Oh you agree? Please join in!)

I'm pretty much stealing all of Madge's blog-friends :). Really nice to meet likeminded people. Have you stumbled upon FeministHousewives yet? I just joined for the hell of it. Thank you for helping me ease myself back into my feminist roots. (gasp)

Fichter said...

Enjoyed discovering your blog and humourous twist to your life story.

Thanks for leaving a comment on "Don't have a cow, give a cow instead".

Do you have a post about the $50 loan idea on your blog somewhere. I do microloans via Kiva.


April said...

I love this story! I love your style of writing too! I'll be back!

Xtreme English said...

Fabulous! but where can we find the post about Wee Miss and her first day of school?