20 Years After the Glass Slipper
I had originally published this blog post on another blog months ago when I was a guest and discovered I hadn’t published it on my own blog. (In reality I didn’t have another post to publish this week). Hey, nobody can accuse me of not jumping on the recycle wagon.
Cinderella married Prince Charming and they lived happily ever after.” – The End -
There wasn’t an epilogue written for this fairy tale/romance. As children and even adults, are we to assume that happily ever after meant that after twenty years of marriage, Cinderella still wears a diamond tiara, crystal embedded Louboutin shoes, a Vera Wang ball gown, dines off of Wedgwood china and dances around the castle with her handsome prince every night after dinner?
Personally, I don’t buy that interpretation of happily ever after.
I picture Cindy favoring a pair of Nike’s (pink of course). As a busy mom with a lot of running around to do, her favorite outfit now consists of black, comfy yoga pants and a T-shirt that said, “Bite Me Step-Monster.” Much more conducive to her lifestyle than the corset and ball gown her Godmother had conjured up for her.
No doubt Cindy and Charming argued as to why the hell the Crank-Step-in-laws were invited to break bread with them at Thanksgiving; when all Charming wanted to do was crack open a beer, put his feet up and catch a polo match on the royal tube.
Crowned Dude worked hard for his monarchy and money. After twenty years the palace was in need of major repairs and a paint job (white glitter is so 1697). With the stress of the recession and palace union giving the royals a run for their jewels at the negotiating round table, this hero needed major kick-back time during the holidays. He didn’t want to deal with nasty-step-in-laws. However, he didn’t complain (much) and plastered on the suave smile that earned him his name.
One of their happy-ever-after, loving conversation’s may have even gone something like this after 20 years:
Cindy: “I’m throwing that cape out. It doesn’t fit you and we need more closet space.”
Charming: “How about dumping those glass slippers. They don’t fit you anyway.”
Cindy: “Are you saying I have cankles?”
Charming: “What the hell are cankles?”
Cindy: “Fat ankles, you idiot.”
Charming looks down at her ankles.
Cindy glares. “Why are you looking at my feet?”
Charming: “So about that closet. I can build you a new one.”
Cindy: “You think that damn swagger is going to get you out of this? Newsflash. That’s getting old. And so are you!”
Charming: “I’ll tell you what’s old. Your Step-monster and those butt-ugly daughters of hers sponging off of us.”
Cindy: “I agree!”
Charming: “I’ll order a hit on them.”
Cindy: “Ah, my hero.”
Charming puffs out chest.
Cindy rolls her eyes.
They put the slippers on E-bay and continue with their happy ever after.
As romance writers, it is up to us to create a hero and heroine that the reader will not only love and root for while we put them through angst, conflicts and unbearable challenges, but we create characters that instill the belief that this couple is going to survive and celebrate a golden anniversary when the reader finishes their story.
Happily ever after isn’t a fairy tale, or a fantasy vision of a couple always looking their best, and being happy 24/7 with each other. That is never my intent when writing a love story. Sure, there is the fantasy aspect of the romance, the escapism with heroes we can drool over. However, when it comes to the long-term relationship and their happily ever after ending (for me) in a romance novel and in real life–it doesn’t have a fantasy ending.
It means that after the initial euphoria of falling in lust followed by an all-consuming love, it turns into a more realistic approach to being able to ride the big wave together, battle demons, handle the baggage and still remain friends, in love and committed to the relationship.
My goal is for the reader to believe with all her heart that the hero and heroine of the story will work through in-law problems, unexpected illnesses, PMS, difficult pregnancy, colic, sleepless nights, a leaking roof, a leaking diaper, death in the family, and financial problems.
Through all this, the couple will support each other, laugh and cry together, and work as a unit to get through the many stresses that life throws at people when they least expect it. A happy ever after ending means that the writer has created two characters who not only have fallen deeply in love, but will give the reader the assurance that when the book has ended, the reader knows these two people will not only remain loving, but they will have a strong friendship that will last through the years, that they truly like each other and enjoy each other’s company (even if they get on each other’s nerves at times).
It’s reassuring the reader that after all the angst and conflicts this couple deals with throughout the story, that these two will always remember to celebrate what brought them together in the first place.
Happy ever after means that when you’re in severe physical pain, and it’s the middle of winter, and you had stupidity refused to refill the pain medication, your husband trudges out into the freezing cold in search of a 24 hour Pharmacy, fills out the prescription and returns home with not only the pain medication, but with a bottle of your favorite bubble bath. (Hey, I thought I was Wonder Woman and could deal with the pain after my elbow operation I had to endure. Thankfully, my husband has never uttered… “I told you so.” He’s a smart man)
Happy ever after means that even though a couple has a hectic schedule, after twenty years of marriage, they still take a moment to send a text message to say, “I’m thinking about you,” or perhaps send a naughty message (only make sure you have the correct phone number when doing that. I’m not admitting to anything, I’m just saying.)