I I I I I I I  


A conversation between the Diva and I, occasioned by her nine billionth
screening of some Disney movie about princesses:

“Mom?”

“Maddy.”

“Do princesses always find their true love?”

“Um … well … kiddo … see, there aren’t that many princesses anymore.”

“Where are they?”

“The princesses? Great Britain. Monaco, I think. Japan, maybe.”

“Are there any here? In Oneonta?”

“Not that I know of. There aren’t any official princesses in America. Unless they are princesses in exile or something, which is fairly unlikely. But you just never know. It’s a big country and…”

“Mo-om.”

“Mad-dy.”

“Just tell me if there are princesses here.”

“No, Mad. There are no princesses here.”

“And the princesses like Jasmin and Ariel or Cinderella are just pretend?”

“They are.”

“But do real princesses in other places always find their true love?”

“That’s a hard one, Maddy.”

What I want to tell you is this: I don’t know what true love is. I know that it’s not like the movies, not where the slipper fits and everyone lives happily ever after. But I have never been a princess so I feel like I really can’t speak for all of princess-kind. Still, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that since princesses are also human beings, their true love doesn’t work like the movies, either. I’d offer up Princess Diana’s life as an example but know that there is no way that you’re going to get the reference. Heck, my college students don’t know who she was.

(continued at right)

What I’m trying to say, my sweet, sweet baby, is that you shouldn’t go looking for true love, because you are bound to be disappointed. “True love” is a mythical storytelling device that gets trotted out when the tale has gone on to long and the teller lacks the moral fiber to tell you the part that comes next. Finding your true love is easy compared to what comes after.

Take it from your old mom or go ask your slightly less old dad and I suspect he’ll tell you the same. This Disney love -- the one that sprouts when the slipper is found or the mermaid gets her voice – pales in comparison to actual love, the kind that you will find in your everyday, non-princess life. Actual love is what you discover you have (or, in some cases, don’t have) once the first crisis hits. And, yes, sweetie, I know that a Sea Hag masquerading as you and trying to marry your prince seems like a crisis. It’s not, though, not by a long shot. Which isn’t to say that it’s not irritating and unpleasant. Actual love can only be discovered through adversity, the real kind that smacks you in the face like a gush of arctic wind. A death, say. Serious financial trouble. One of you getting undeniably sick. Is the other person just hanging around out of a sense of duty? Or does it go deeper?

Which isn’t to say that actual love is only about nasty life events and is no fun at all. Far from it, in fact. I can’t imagine Cinderella and her Charming, those poster children of true love, sharing a big belly laugh, the kind that comes from feeling completely as ease with the person you’re with. I imagine they go to a lot of balls or have a lot of state dinners, none of which encourage bonding with each other through having a really good time. I can’t imagine Charming evoking so much as a sly grin out of Cinders simply by doing his Dick Cheney impression.

No, it’s not important that you know who Dick Cheney is, Maddy. Just know that your Dad’s impression of him is very funny. For every 40 laughs, however, there are the days – weeks, sometimes – when you can’t stand each other. Some years, the ratio of laughs-to-irritation is higher; some years, it’s lower. You have to not give up, even when you want to, because it almost always comes around again.

(Although, parenthetically, you also have to set some limits. If anyone who loves you lays a hand on you in anger, who hits, smacks or otherwise causes you intentional physical pain, you are to run as far and as fast as you can. That isn’t love, true or otherwise. It’s the sort of thing that the Disney people ought to warn about in their movies. But no one wants that sort of warning in a fairy tale. No, it’s much better that we teach kids about the dangers of poisoned apples.) Just remember that it’s hard to live with another person, no matter how much you love them. And, yes, I feel the same way about you sometimes, especially when you wake me up four times in a night simply because you want someone to watch you have a sip of water. Seriously, Maddy. You know where the sink is and how it works.

Sorry, Mommy got off track again.

All of this is why I don’t know how to answer your question. I want you to believe in romance and fairy tales. I also want you to know that they aren’t real. True love may feel like the best thing since chocolate but, really, it is a boring approximation of the real thing. What I’m trying to say is that true love exists like unicorns exist. And the unicorn conversation is one that we’re going to have to have soon, I suspect.

“Mom?”

“Yes, Maddy?”

“Why are you so quiet?’

“Just thinking, Mad. I’ll tell you about it someday.”
 _________________________ 
About the Author:

Adrienne Martini  has been a theatre technician, apprentice massage therapist, bookstore bookkeeper and pizza joint waitress. Eventually, someone started paying her for her words and an editorial mercenary was  born. She has written theatre reviews and features for the Austin Chronicle, blurbs about tofurkey and bottled water for Cooking Light and a piece about  knitting summer camp for Interweave Knits. She is a former editor for Knoxville, Tennessee's Metro Pulse and recently picked up an AAN award for feature writing. In July 2006, her first book Hillbilly Gothic: A Memoir of Madness and Motherhood will be published.  During the day, she fields freelance gigs and crams knowledge into the heads of college students in Upstate New York. At all hours, she is mom to Maddy and Cory, and wife to Scott. 

 

I I I I I I I  

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