The Princess and the Pea--THE PC VERSION
by James Finn Garner***
In a kingdom over the hills and far away, there lived a young prince who was very full of himself. He was healthy, relatively handsome, and
had had more than his fair share of happiness and comfort growing up. Yet he felt that he deserved something more. It was not enough for
him to have been born into a life of parasitical leisure and to keep the masses firmly under the heel of his calfskin boots. He was also
determined to perpetuate this undemocratic tyranny by marrying only a real, authentic, card-carrying princess.

His mother, the queen, encouraged her son's obsession, despite the obvious risks of hemophiliac or microcephalic grandchildren. Many
years earlier, after a period of inadequate wellness, his father the king had achieved corporal terminality. This lack of a strong male
presence gnawed at the prince on a subconscious level, and no amount of weekend retreats and male bonding with other young dukes
and barons could relieve this anxiety. His mother, for her own codependent and Oedipal reasons, did not bother to change or correct his
selfish notions of unattainable perfection in a spousal lifemate.

In his quest for the perfect partner, the prince traveled far and wide, looking for someone to enslave in matrimony. Astride his trusty
equine colleague, he went from kingdom to queendom to dukedom to duchessdom, asking for names and phone numbers.
Heavily or lightly pigmented, vertically or horizontally challenged, cosmetically attractive or differently visaged -- he cared not a
whit. His only criterion was the royal authenticity of a wommon who could share his regal delusions of privilege and persunal
worth.

One rainy night, after a long journey to many far-off bioregions, the prince nourished himself with a bowl of lintel-curry stew and
confided his fears to his mother: "I don't think I'll ever find a genuine princess with whom to share my life, Mummy."

"Well, Son," the queen reassured him, "don't forget the many benefits of the single life. Don't let society and the church pressure
you into a lifestyle for which you might not be suited."

"Perhaps I should widen my scope a bit?" he mused.

"What? And throw out your standards?"

"No, Mummy, perhaps I have fallen into a trap of the orthodox heterosexualist majority. Maybe there is a fine young
prince out
there for me. It's at least worth a try."

Before his mother could answer, there was a knock on the castle door. The servants pulled open the heavy portal, and out of the
rain stepped a young wommon, who was moisture-enhanced from head to foot. She was certainly attractive to the eye, if you're
the type of shallow persun who attaches value to appearances. Luckily for our story, the prince was not one of those types. He
had one standard, and only one standard, classist though it may have been.

Imagine the prince's surprise when the visitor blurted out, "A princess shouldn't be out in weather like this!" Well, now,
this was a
revelation straight from the equine animal companion's mouth! The prince was struck orally inoperative for a moment, then invited
the dryness-challenged visitor to enjoy their hospitality in the castle overnight.

While this was certainly a joyous development for the prince, his mother felt very threatened that someone was taking her son away
from her. But rather than acknowledge the validity of her feelings and airing them in a constructive way, the queen decided on a
ruse to test the visitor's claim.

She sneaked up to the bedchambers and found the room where the persun of saturation would be sleeping. She tore off all the
bedding from the frame and placed one single pea on the bed slats. Then she placed 10 futons on top of the pea, and on top of
that 10 eiderdown quilts.

"There." said the queen. "If that drenched wench downstairs is really a princess, she will be refined enough to notice this lump
and be unable to sleep."

The next morning at breakfast, over the royal granola, the queen innocently asked the young wommon how she had slept.

"Abominably," she replied. "I didn't get a wink all night."

The queen's eyes grew wide. Had her plan worked too well?

The visitor continued, "First of all, the bed was piled high with eiderdown quilts. Barbaric! How could I sleep, thinking of the
poor geese who unwillingly surrendered their feathers for my comfort?"

The queen reddened a bit but said nothing.

"Then, as I was removing all the extra futons to share them with some of the less fortunate peasants living around the castle, I
found a pea placed beneath them all. Shocking, with the state of the world as it is, that someone would waste food like that."

With these statements, the queen nearly choked on her soy milk. The prince, who had learned of his mother's scheme to
screen out a princess, was so excited he couldn't keep silent any longer. "So you really are a princess!" he yelped.

"Last night I was, yes," she replied. The quizzical looks from the prince and queen led the wommon to elaborate: "Last night I
was a princess; this morning I am an ancient Viking warrior! Oh, you sillies -- I'm channeling! I have over a dozen past
personalities that periodically inhabit my body -- everyone from Charlemagne's mistress to Aesop's brother-in-law. And
Cleopatra. But then, everyone's been Cleopatra at some time or other. Let me tell you, it makes for some interesting
conversation at parties! It's all pretty exciting for an economically disadvantaged spoonmaker's daughter who grew up on the
wrong side of the drainage ditch."

These revelations made the queen very angry, but the prince was intrigued. "So, when do you think you will be channeling into
a princess again?"

"A week from Tuesday," she said matter-of-factly, "mid-morning until early evening. I am very punctual with my past lives."

"Then on that Tuesday afternoon, I will ask you to be my wife and castle-mate, and you can rule by my side as an equal partner
in every way."

The wommon considered a moment, then answered: "I would accept, if not for the fact that this morning, as I have said, I am a
Viking warrior -- Liefdahl by name, son of Ulfdahl -- and I have a strong notion to lay siege to your castle just after breakfast."
She calmly took a sip of coffee and grabbed another muffin.

"How rude!" said the queen with a slap on the table. "We give her lodging in a storm and breakfast the next morning, and she
swaps personalities on us and calmly talks about laying siege to us, without so much as a 'by your leave'!"

"Mother, please," said the prince. "Now, how long are you generally a Viking warrior?"

"Oh not longer than 45 minutes."

"And after that?" he asked.

"After that, I'm usually St. Giles, living in a hovel and renouncing all worldly possessions."

"And that would include . . . ?"

"That would include" -- the visitor smiled with a dawning awareness -- "renouncing any and all worldly kingdoms conquered by my
other spiritual co-habitators."

So, as is often the case, timing was crucial to a happy ending in our story. The "princess" and the prince were married the
second Tuesday following, in accordance with her metaphysical timetable, and they had a very happy honeymoon especially
during certain transformations. Every time she became Liefdahl, son of Ulfdahl, she would conquer the prince and his castle, and
every time she became St. Giles, she would give it right back. Channeling past lives and historic personalities became
de
rigueur
in court from that day forward, and the queen, the prince, and the channeler lived a very happy life together, never quite
knowing who would turn up for breakfast.
***Material (text) copyright
James Finn Garner. All
rights reserved.