“I agree, sir. It’s time for you to settle down. Get yourself a wife. Kids are great to have around. You’d like it.”
“But believe it or not, Reggie, I’m having a little trouble landing a good wife. I don’t get it, I mean she’d get to live in the castle, never have to work a day in her life, she’d have tons of cool jewelry, and most of all, she’d get to be with me! You’d think chicks would love the idea. I have to be the best catch in the kingdom. Babes should be throwing themselves at me. What could possibly be the problem?”
“Well, can I be honest with you, sir? I don’t want to get my head chopped off for saying something you don’t want to hear.”
“Don’t be silly. We’ve been friends ever since your dad started cleaning out my dad’s privy. And you seem to do pretty well with the ladies. Let’s hear it.”
Reggie was still uneasy about offering any type of constructive criticism to his “friend”, the Prince.
“Well, for starters, I think it would help if you stopped calling yourself ‘Prince Charming’. You come across as a little self-absorbed.”
The look made Reggie’s neck twitch.
“Reggie, am I not the Prince?”
“Of course you are.”
“And am I not charming?”
More neck twitching.
“Yes, sir, very charming.”
“Then what’s the problem?”
“Well, it’s true and all, but women like a little humility in a man.”
“Really? I’ll consider that. Anything else.”
“Well, your posture, sir.”
“My posture? What do you mean?”
“You tend to walk around with your head tilted back and your nose up in the air. It sends the message that you think you are better than everyone else.”
“But I am better than everyone else.”
“I understand that, sir. But again, a little humility would go a long way with the ladies.”
“I’ll consider that also.”
Reggie looked down at his feet, then back up at the Prince.
“And one other thing, if I may, sir?”
“It’s the postings you’ve been putting up all around the Kingdom.”
The Prince smiled broadly.
“Yes! I thought that would be a good way to let the eligible women know their Prince was looking for a mate. And the application form is right there for them. Don’t you like the idea?”
“I doubt if public messaging will ever be of value in the search for a partner, but it’s more about the content of the notice.”
“My, you’re really on a roll. What’s wrong with it?”
“I’m not sure ‘Attention All Wenches!’ is a good lead, sir. And some of the prerequisites- good breeding stock, good teeth, and big boobs- that could turn some women off.”
“But that’s what I want.”
“I know, I know, but let’s just say it’s a little… indelicate.”
“Huh, I was wondering why I wasn’t getting much of a response.”
“Reggie, my good man!”
“Good morning, Prince. You seem to be in a good mood this morning.”
“I am! The King and I have solved my problem of finding a good mate! We will hold a grand ball and invite all wenches…I mean ladies, to attend. That way I can see them all at one time, in one place. It will be like judging cattle at the Fair! I think it’s a winner.”
Though Reggie was uncomfortable with the comment, he dared not share his feelings.
“Good for you, Prince! Yes, judge them all, just like the Fair. What a splendid idea!”
The Kingdom had never seen such an event! The ladies in all their finery, dressed to the nines, the men in their Sunday best. Gold plated carriages drawn by milk-white horses under the light of a full moon. Tables laden with succulent game, fruits, pastries and pies. Carafes of fine wine everywhere. Minstrels and jugglers wandering through the crowd. The spacious ballroom was filled to capacity with guests making merry as the Prince began his evaluations.
“Can you believe this, Reggie?! Look at all these women!”
Awkward at introductions and inept at conversation, the Prince was having trouble getting the full measure of the women in attendance.
“Reggie, what do you think? I’m not seeing anything that rings my bell. It’s frustrating.”
And then she appeared, a ray of sunshine burst into the room, a sparkling diamond that grabbed the attention of all who saw.
“Holy Crusades, Reggie! Check her out!”
“Wow, she’s a real looker. She…wait a minute, I think I’ve seen her before, at the market, but never dressed like that. She’s beautiful! I’ll bring her over to meet you!”
Her unmatched beauty sent a tremor of discomfort through the Prince.
“Uh, wait a minute. I just need a moment to ready myself. How do I look? Is my hair ok?”
“You’re the Prince. You are one awesome guy. Confidence, sir, confidence!”
“Let me think. Yes, here’s the plan. You go over and speak to her first. Tell her what a good guy I am. Say a lot of really nice things about me. That should be easy for you to do. I’ll be hanging out at the bar having a couple courage boosters. Then I’ll saunter over, real cool like, and talk to her.”
Reggie had learned over the years that, generally speaking, it’s never a good idea to oppose any plan the Prince came up with. He was one of history’s great “yes men”.
“Of course, sir! Splendid idea! I’ll lay it on thick. I’ll be right back.”
One would think that the prettiest girl in the room would attract a crowd of suitors, but Reggie found the girl sitting at a table all alone. Her beauty shook the confidence of all the men in attendance, and the fear of immediate, painful rejection kept them at bay.
“Good evening, my lady, might I have a word with you?”
“Of course, please sit down. I believe your name is Reggie.”
Reggie was stunned. The most beautiful girl in the world knew his name.
“My name is Cinderella. Sit, please.”
Reggie slowly sunk into a chair.
“How do you know my name?”
Her smile brought an uneasy feeling.
“I’ve seen you at the market.”
A giggle from the girl, coupled with the fact Reggie knew he was under the watchful eye of the Prince, took Reggie from uneasy to downright uncomfortable.
“ I don’t want to embarrass you, but the girls all talk about you.”
“Really? And what do they say?”
“They speak of your handsome features, your broad shoulders, and your confident air.”
Reggie was squirming in his chair.
“And your kindness! I’ve seen you carrying groceries for old women and handing out treats to the children.”
“Oh, that was just that one time. I really don’t like kids.”
“Don’t be so modest.”
In view of the mission, Cinderella’s flirtatious manner was threatening. Reggie needed to get to the business at hand.
“Well, that’s all very flattering, but let me tell you the purpose of my visit. I am on an errand for the Prince. He finds your beauty enchanting, and he desires your company.”
“The Prince?! Oh, my God. I’d rather chew the eyes out of a newt and roll around in kitty litter than talk to him. He’s a complete tool, a real turd.”
Reggie drifted off into a world few had visited. He was overcome with thoughts of the upcoming, worrisome task of reporting back to the Prince who had the unnerving reputation of shooting the messenger.
“What are you talking about?! The Prince is a great guy! You just don’t know him. To know him is to love him. Look at me. I know the guy, and I love him!”
“I know all about him. He’s an arrogant son-of-a bitch. And a pig! Did you see the sick notices he put up all over the Kingdom?”
“Yeah, I know. I guess it could have been worded a little better.”
“Worded a little better? Like, ‘large breasts’ instead of ‘big boobs’? No, I’ll never speak to that repulsive creature.”
“My Lady, you don’t understand. The Prince is looking for a wife. You would live a life of luxury beyond your wildest dreams if he would choose you.”
“Choose me?! Excuse me, but I am not like a head of cattle to be selected at auction, or a melon to be plucked at the market. No, I would not marry for riches. I know I will find my true love someday…Reginald.”
Reginald?! He about fell off his chair. Her smile had grown to Cheshire Cat dimensions, and he thought he caught a hint of fluttering eye lashes! He looked back at the bar and saw the Prince’s inquisitive look. Reggie smiled, nodded his head, and gave the Prince a surreptitious thumbs up.
Reggie and Cinderella continued to talk, Reggie steering the conversation to the many admirable attributes of the Prince, while Cinderella, unfortunately, kept the focus on… Reggie. The Prince was getting anxious.
“Reggie, what took so long? For awhile there I was afraid you were trying to steal my girl.”
Oh, that was a troubling comment. The Prince’s laugh did little to allay Reggie’s fears.
“So, how did it go? Is she anxious to meet me?”
Reggie had carefully crafted a strategy.
“Oh, I’d forget about this one, sir. Cinderella, that’s what she calls herself, she’s not good enough for you.”
“What are you talking about? She’s beautiful!”
“Beauty is only skin deep.”
“That’s deep enough for me.”
“No, I’m sorry, sir. She definitely won’t do.”
“What’s wrong with her?”
“Well, for starters, narrow hips, sir, hardly suitable for breeding. And small where you’d like her to be big.”
“Do you mean…?”
“Yes, that is exactly what I mean. Flat as a pancake. And she’s a real dummy, sir. Couldn’t carry a conversation. You’d be bored stiff with her around.”
“I have plenty of servants to talk to. And she is so beautiful! I don’t see any deal killer here.”
“And family matters, sir. I guess her mother-in-law is a real bitch. She’d probably want to move into the castle with her. That would be troubling.”
“Not an issue. I could banish her or have her executed, or something.”
“Well, listen to this. That girl is not dealing with a full deck. She says a couple of mice and their friends made her dress, and that she must leave by midnight or her carriage will turn into a pumpkin. She’s a real nut-job.”
“Well, that settles it then!”
Reggie felt a great sense of relief.
“I must ask her to marry me by midnight!”
“Ask her to marry you?! But, sir, I have just begun to list her many faults. You must hear me out before making such a rash move.”
Reggie knew the Prince did not handle rejection well. He would blame it on the warmup act, believing that Reggie’s buildup was woefully inadequate. He would pay a high price, so he intensified his efforts to dissuade.
Reggie tried, and then he tried some more. He told the Prince she sat alone at the table because she emitted a foul odor. Her breath singed his beard. She laughed heartily whenever she passed gas. In a final act of desperation, he told the Prince she was a robust nose picker, and she downed a few boogers during their brief chat. Unfortunately for Reggie, the Prince would hear none of it. He was smitten beyond all hope.
If Reggie couldn’t change the Prince’s mind, he thought he’d give incapacitation and distraction a shot. He would keep the Prince preoccupied with drink and lively conversation until the midnight hour. The beautiful Cinderella would have departed by that time, and Reggie would be safe.
“I think another goblet of wine for you, sir, you know, to loosen the inhibitions, get the old confidence rolling.”
“You might be right. I still feel a bit intimated by her beauty. But what kind of vibe did you get? Does she have feelings for me?”
“Oh, yes, sir, strong feelings, very strong.”
“I wonder how long the poor lass must have admired me from afar.”
“Yes, it must have been hard on her. Say, that was some pretty good jousting this afternoon. I had my money on the White Knight. I lost a bundle.”
“The White Knight?! You fool. The guy’s a slug. You should have talked to me first.”
And so it went. Reggie kept one eye on the Prince’s goblet, the other on the clock, all the while tossing out any subject he could think of.
Reggie kept the Prince’s goblet full as he figured his best chance was to get the Prince good and drunk. Maybe he’d pass out or at least forget about the whole thing. He thought he was out of the woods as midnight approached and Cinderella got up to leave. But the Prince, even in his inebriated state, noticed her walking toward the exit. He threw down his goblet and began the chase.
“Cinderella! Wait! I must have a word with you!”
Cinderella took off running as if her life depended on it. In her haste to get to her carriage, she lost a shoe. The Prince gave chase, but he tripped, stumbled into a table, and fell to the ground. She was gone, but before his eyes, a shoe.
“Yeah, that’s too bad, sir. You two would have made a cute couple.”
“I don’t understand what happened, Reggie. Something must have scared her. Or something about that midnight thing.”
“Well, there’s other fish in the ocean. We’ll just have to keep looking.”
The Prince brandished her shoe like a weapon.
“No, I will find her. I have her shoe. I will find the girl who wore this shoe, and I will marry her.”
Oh, my God. Poor Reggie had dodged a bullet, but he would soon be back in the line of fire. He had to find Cinderella first, convince her to go into hiding, send her on a nice trip, maybe buy her an ugly mask, anything to avert the looming disaster.
“Any luck, sir?”
“That’s too bad.”
“But I’ll keep looking. I must find her.”
“I wanted to talk to you about that, sir, you know, walking around the kingdom with a woman’s shoe. People are starting to talk.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, it’s like you’ve got a thing about women’s shoes. I think there’s a name for that. It’s not a good look, sir. I think you should stop doing that.”
“I don’t care what people think. I am on a mission of love. I will find Cinderella.”
Reggie was starting to feel a little better about his chances to survive. The Prince’s anger at rejection would likely diminish with the passage of time. And considering the Prince’s state of drunkenness that night, he might not even remember Reggie’s role as emissary to the beautiful Cinderella.
But then Reggie began to worry about Cinderella. She seemed like such a nice girl. He feared harm would come to her if she rejected the Prince, or worse, a life of misery awaited her if she were forced to marry the jerk. Chivalry beckoned. Reggie felt he needed to find her and warn her for her sake.
It was a desperate race to find Cinderella, the Prince running around town with her shoe and Reggie maintaining his vigil at the market. Finally, on the 5th day, Cinderella appeared to do her shopping. Reggie breathed a sigh of relief and briskly walked toward her. But then fate, cruel fate, intervened in the form of a man on horseback frantically waving a woman’s shoe above his head.
“See this shoe! Whoever owns the matching shoe shall someday be queen of the kingdom!”
Reggie saw the Prince. The Prince saw Reggie. Cinderella saw them both, and they both saw Cinderella.
“Oh, hey, Prince. I see you’re still out looking for Cinderella. I was just out doing a little last minute shopping.”
“Reggie! Is that her?! Is that Cinderella?!”
Now we all know Cinderella couldn’t give two hoots about the Prince, but Reggie was a different story.
“Reggie! I knew you’d come for me!”
Reggie considered running, but he was paralyzed with fear. He could only stand there still as a rock as Cinderella raced toward him. He closed his eyes and wished he were somewhere else as Cinderella wrapped her arms around him.
The event drew a pretty good crowd for a Tuesday. Reggie’s neck rested comfortably in the guillotine as he looked out upon the crowd. There she was, Cinderella, standing in the front row. She smiled, and gave him a slight wave of her hand.
The Prince gave the executioner the final order.
“Off with his head!”
Reggie took one last look at the woman who had cost him his life. She shrugged her shoulders and extended her hands in a gesture of helplessness. Reggie thought she too was suffering in this moment, but then, just as the blade released, she reached in her pocket, pulled out a shoe, held it above her head, and shouted.
“Yoo-hoo, Prince! I’ve got the other shoe!”