When Men and Women Really Shouldn’t Be Friends

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess, although she really didn’t know how beautiful she was. She spent hours up in the tower dreaming of the day she would meet her perfect prince.

One day, the princess got fed up of waiting for her prince to come and rescue her from the tower. She had heard of a witch who could arrange unions between princes and princesses so one day she took a carriage to the witch’s house, far off in the deep, dark woods.

It was a cold, dim, dark-looking place with big black bats flapping around. Surrounding the house was a moat filled with plenty o’ big toothed fishes.

The princess crossed the moat bridge and knocked on the big wooden door. A crackly voice shrieked, “Enter!”

Inside was the most scary witch the princess had ever seen.

“So you want to meet a prince, do you?” the witch asked in her crackly voice.

The princess replied yes.

“Drink this potion, and soon you will meet your prince.” She handed the princess a purple bottle containing a dark liquid, which bubbled inside.

The princess was so desperate to meet her prince that she took the bottle without a second thought and gulped down the black liquid.

The witch began to cackle. The princess, who was suddenly feeling very scared, hitched up her dress and fled from the witch’s house.

Soon after her visit to the witch’s house, she saw a gallant knight at a jousting tournament. He was handsome and brave, and as the princess watched him battling the other knights she knew he could be her perfect prince. After the tournament, the princess searched everywhere for her knight but he was nowhere to be found. She asked one of the other knights where he lived and sent him a scroll by carrier pigeon, asking if he would like to meet her at the next jousting tournament. To her delight, the knight agreed.

Their first meeting was wonderful. Although the princess was surrounded by many chiselled knights at the tournament, she only had eyes for the knight. And he only had eyes for her.

The knight and princess had a few more dates. But the knight could see that the princess wanted far more than he could ever give her, so he did the valiant thing and told the princess he could not be the prince that she wanted him to be. The princess was devastated. They had a long conversation and agreed that they would stay friends. But their friendship was limited mainly to playing Ye Olde Wordes With Ye Friends.

A few months later, the princess moved to the big city to start a new life. She had hopes of finding a career, and hopefully a prince. The princess found it hard in the city, at times feeling even more isolated than she did when she lived in the tower.

One day the princess received a message by carrier pigeon. It was from the knight, telling her that he too was moving to the city. The princess was overjoyed, and had high hopes that their romance could be rekindled.

When the knight arrived, they started to spend time together. There was an obvious spark between the two. After a while, the princess invited the knight to share her four-poster bed, which he did.

While they had a lot of fun in the four-poster, there was never any romance away from the confines of the castle. This disappointed the princess, because as much as the princess cared for the knight, she knew that although he was fond of her, he did not share the same feelings. She thought back to her visit to the witch’s house, remembering the potion she drank. She knew there was only one way to break the witch’s spell.

The princess had to admit her feelings to the knight. They agreed that he would no longer share the four-poster with her. But they still kept a close friendship. The princess was again very upset, but thought that at least now she would be free of the witch’s spell.

Over the next few months, the princess met new princes, who usually turned into frogs when she kissed them. The princess would always end up being disappointed, and her friend the knight offered her a shoulder to cry on.

The knight and princess spent a lot of time together, attending jousting tournaments and medieval feasts. The princess continued to have feelings for the knight, but kept them quiet, for she knew the consequences should she ever reveal them to the knight.

One day, the knight met another princess. Although he tried to keep it from the princess, for he knew she did not like to hear such tales, eventually he had to tell her. The princess could tell how much the knight liked the other princess, and was very jealous. But she knew in her heart that he would never want her in the way he wanted the other princess.

So the princess confessed her true feelings. The knight was confused, because he could not understand how the princess could still hold a torch for him after all this time. She told him about the witch’s potion and he asked if there was an antidote. The princess told him there was none.

The knight and the princess talked late into the night. The knight asked the princess if she wanted to end their friendship. While the princess knew this was probably the only way to get over the witch’s spell, she could not bear to be parted from the knight. Because he too valued his friendship with the princess, and worried for her being alone in the city, he also could not be the one to walk away.

This sad tale ends here. Far away in the deep, dark forest, the witch cackles.

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Once Upon A Time, There Was A Pretty Woman…

Twenty-two years ago, one of the most iconic rom-coms was released.  Tonight, I watched Pretty Woman, starring Julia Roberts as Vivian Ward, in the film that made her name, and Richard Gere as arrogant-but-lovable businessman, Edward Lewis.  The difference between Pretty Woman and most romantic comedies, is that the lady in question, is a prostitute from Hollywood Boulevard.

I remember watching the film in the early 90s, when I would have been around the age of eleven or twelve, and wishing so much that I could be like Vivian.  Of course, being too young to appreciate what being a hooker actually meant, it was the fairytale that I wanted to be part of, not the seedy life of sex that had been Vivian’s life before Edward.

Now I’m 34, and watching the film still evokes the same feelings in me.  I feel for her when the women in the boutique on Rodeo Drive are nasty to her.  I cried when she cried at the opera.  I cried when Richard Gere climbed up the tower to rescue her.

Last year, during my study abroad period in America, I wrote a short fairy tale, about a princess who no longer decides to wait for her prince to come, and it is only many years later, when she has a successful writing career and is happy with her life, that she meets the man of her dreams.  Some people have correctly recognised me as the princess.  Of course it is me.  For reasons such as I have been watching Pretty Woman for the last two decades, and every time I cry because to me it remains just that; a fairy tale.

I don’t know if I will ever meet my prince.  My heart has been broken, not by being in love, but by heartache, in disguise as love, but what was actually nothing but a cruel fairy tale with no happy ending.  I still long to believe that like Vivian, I will meet the man of my dreams and that I will fall in love with him, and him with me.  But as time goes by, I am left to wonder whether fairy tales do actually exist, or if they are just stories we are told to give us false hope.

Soon I will write an essay about this film.  I will observe how one of the lead characters is a prostitute; how the other lead is patriarchal; how the film represents the high-low culture debate perfectly.  I will not mention how much my heart aches when I watch it, or how much hope it gives me when Edward climbs up the tower to rescue Vivian.  That is what I will keep in my heart, to hold the shattered pieces together, for I cannot live without the fairy tale.  I must have hope that one day it may come true.  Otherwise, what hope is there?