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It's tough for me to choose my favorite fairytale. Each one has an element that I love and, as I grow older and the conversation changes, each one has an element that I find a bit problematic. So, instead, I'm going to list my top 5 and why I love them.
Disclaimer: I read, and was read to, all of the classic fairytales. However, Disney is most prominent in my mind so I'm going based on the animated versions.
1) Cinderella: The dress. The coach. The magic. The idea that doing chores was not fun and, when you finally made it as a princess, you wouldn't have to do them anymore. All of these elements won me over.
2) Aladdin: I loved Aladdin because it was cool to see a princess that kind of looked like me. Though Jasmine is of a different and fictional ethnic background, and my parents would never have let me walk around in a crop top when I was a teenager, it was cool to see a brown girl in a Disney film. Also, Jasmine got to have a pet tiger.
3) Beauty and the Beast: Belle got to be smart! As an avid reader (and kind of a nerd) growing up, I was delighted to find a princess who read as much as I do. The fact that she sees beneath the Beast's rough exterior and down to the person he really is also resonated with me. All these pretty-boy princes were charming, sure, but the Beast was a good-hearted dude. I also love the gothic architecture of his castle. Basically, everything I geek out for was in this movie.
4) Sleeping Beauty: I find this one hugely problematic, however, I like napping and for someone who is quite lazy, it sounds like an easy way to spend 100 years. Plus, she grows no body hair during this sabbatical. How does she stay pretty? What is this long-lasting foundation? But besides that, lots and lots of issues with Sleeping Beauty!
5) Alice and Wonderland: This is my all time favorite! A girl gets to go on an adventure and encounters all kinds of crazy characters. She has a tea party and plays some lawn games. So fun! She's sassy and smart. It's a quirky, whimsical good time.
Olivia learns that there is a thin curtain separating our world from theirs. Just beneath the surface, an entirely different one exists. One that is controlled by those of Royal lineage. The chosen ones, the Royals, hold the fate of the world in their hands. Will Olivia be able to bear the weight of the crown?
Confessions of a Shopaholic meets The Adjustment Bureau, this contemporary fairytale is both relatable and aspirational. Taking a look at the current balance of media and power with a healthy dose of humor, fashion, food and wanderlust.
I’m getting a very weird feeling. I consider turning around and leaving, but getting a cab on a cold rainy night before 2AM is going to be tough as they don’t begin frequenting the area until the bars start to close, and the nearest Uber appears to be 25 minutes away. Plus, I did go to all of this trouble to get my lazy self dressed and over here.
There is a crest engraved in brass metal on the front of the red door, an intricately designed crown and some lettering. I tilt my head to read it all the way around. ‘Alea iacta est memores acti prudentes uturi modus operandi’ I read aloud, and below, ‘Posteriori’. I recognize the language as Latin from the three weeks we spent on it during Intro to Languages, which was designed to help us choose one to focus on during our tenure at the university
Against my better judgment, I push on the heavy door, which creaks open. I enter into a cold stone-walled hall with a stone slab floor, lit by what appears to be a row of fire lanterns on each side. I guess this place is a bit behind the times in converting, or maybe they think it’s super ironic and hipster to not jump on the modernization bandwagon. Or maybe it’s me. I’m not exactly the authority on architectural trends. Maybe converted vintage is over and re-vintaged vintage is back in. Ugh, I can’t wait until I’m old and have an excuse not to be hip.
I walk down a windy stone hallway that seems straight out of a period film. Wow, they are really taking this theme seriously. How cool would it be if this stuff was authentic? I take a few pictures with my phone just in case. I mean as Cultures Editor, it’s always nice to be the one to discover the next big thing, like Connor said.
As I round the corner I hear, before I see, a British male mumbling to himself, apparently in debate.
“It’s so bizarre. But it couldn’t be. Could it? Stranger things have happened.”
I find myself face to face with a short-ish man, though taller than me, with glasses, wearing a sports coat with suede elbow patches. I scream in surprise and jump about five feet in the air. He seems slightly taken aback as well but less jumpy than me, or at least less vocal about it. He’s good looking in an intellectual sort of way and his dark floppy hair is conservatively combed back. I’m not sure if he’s startled by our unexpected encounter or my scream, but he does a bit of a double back.
“Sorry,” he recovers charmingly, “I didn’t see you there.”
“No, me either.” I try to breathe. I feel like I know him from somewhere.
“Stuart Stephens.” He proffers his hand in greeting.
“Olivia Grace Thorpland.” I shake his in return. “But you can call me Gigi.”
“Hello, Gigi. Nice to meet you.” He is impeccably mannered even after our near death collision. Must be the British thing.
“So are you here for the party too?” I inquire. “Do you know where it is?”
“Party?” he asks, confused. “No, I just had a meeting here.”
“Ah, I see,” I say, although I don’t, given the hour. I definitely know him from somewhere. Got it, he’s a comedian.
“Well, care to join me anyway?” I offer politely. After all, he’s British, I’m being a good ambassador. He appears a bit bewildered.
“No, thanks. I best be going.”
“Are you sure? My friends are in there.”
“Really? Your friends are in there?” He seems surprised to see where I’m gesturing.
“Yup,” I tell him confidently.
“Oh, well, thanks for the invite, but I’m completely sure. Thanks anyway,” comes his nervous reply. “But, can I ask you a question?” I nod. “Is this all, um, kosher?”
“I, I, don’t know.” I hesitate. Is he Jewish and British? Is that a thing?
“Well, I’ll let you get on “he says. “Have a good night.”
“You too. Bye,” I reply. And with that, we walk off in opposite directions.
Finally, I reach a semi-circled entryway that has the option of five doors, one straight ahead and two on either side. These are not your ordinary doors either. They are heavy, arched, rustic, dark brown, slated wooden doors. I’m not really in the mood to crash a wedding reception, murder, or worse, a live band performance; and, given that anything could be behind these doorways, I’m about to give up on this expedition completely, when one of the doors, the entryway smack dab in the center, starts to creak open, apparently of its own accord. A feeling of unexpected dread overtakes me. I brace myself, unsure of what to expect to find behind it.
The Secret Lives of Royals is Shalini’s debut novel. Her other work includes published poetry and scripts only she has read.
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