For this prompt, I asked everyone to generate a list titled, “These are some of the things I’ve learned in this lifetime.” I let people free write for about five minutes—words, phrases, complete sentences—anything that came to mind. Some of it was poignant; some of it was hilarious. Next, we chose three from our lists and read them around out loud. I wrote, “Cinderella fucked us up more than Bambi’s Mother did,” and wrote the following letter to the princess herself, in response.
Hi. It’s me, the desperate-to-be-hip aging urban homo, writing to ask you to come correct. Because even though I spent ten years in therapy, deconstructed Grimm’s Fairytales in literature courses, read about your happily-ever-after life through a feminist vs. a patriarchal lens, and often blame you for many of the reasons I can’t deal with the annoyances that come with cohabitation, you still evoke a sense of delight when I watch you on the silver screen.
Even though I know your fat-footed ugly step-sisters won’t fit into that ridiculous glass slipper, I still find myself singing along with the little mice and cursing Lucifer the cat, and laughing at your absent-minded fairy godmother. I like how the birds help you dress and how your reflection in the water puddle keeps you company while you scrub the floor. But even so, I’m not completely buying happily-ever-after. So tell the truth.
I want to know a few things, like if the Prince is good in the sack, if he delivers the goods. You need to tell it, to bring it, to drop the knowledge, girl. Admit to us that it ain’t that simple. That you argue sometimes, that he’s getting a paunch, that he falls asleep some nights when you want to make hot, sweaty, love.
Admit that you still call your step-mother on Mother’s Day. Even though she abused you for years, you’re still enmeshed. In fact, please give it up and admit that there is no such thing as a fairy godmother, that there never was a Grand Ball at a castle, that he wasn’t a prince at all, but the son of a wealthy real estate investor. Tell us about how you’ve had trouble conceiving. Tell us that you drink too much at night watching Dancing with the Stars on Hulu, occasionally crying for that couple who dances the Quick Step or the Fox Trot without one mistake, because beyond that one waltz that brought you two together, you always wished you had learned the Lindy Hop, and you haven’t been out dancing in ages.
You still love him, but it’s hard work. Admit it: some days, you dream of the single life, and a hot Latin lover half your age.