|SLEEPING PERSUN OF BETTER-THAN-AVERAGE ATTRACTIVENESS
by James Finn Garner
(a PC version of Sleeping Beauty)
|Long, long ago, there lived a king and a queen, two equal partners in life who shared everything -- including the fervent wish to have a baby. (This was much easier for the king,
of course, since he would never have to endure the upheavals of pregnancy, the pain of childbirth, and the miseries of postpartum depression. You could rightly call his wish
more vicarious than hers.) But as many times as the king would inflict his baser instincts on the queen, they (or, more accurately, she) remained childless.
One day, as the queen bathed in a nearby river, a frog leaped onto the lily pad next to her. Then, to her amazement, the frog cleared its throat and spoke.
"Although it's probably not a good idea to bring another human being into the world," said the amphibious messenger, "I know of
your conception problems and would like to help. If you follow my advice, you will soon be with child."
"Oh, such joyous news!" trilled the queen. "What must I do to prepare myself, frog?! What must I do?! Tell me!!"
"Your best bet is to go the natural route, and for pity's sake, learn to relax! Get some regular exercise, eat more greens and grains,
and eliminate animal fat from your diet. Later, if you need one, I can recommend a good lactation consultant."
So the queen did as the frog directed, and on the next full cycle of the moon, her body was colonized by the seed of the exploitative
Nine months later (not to minimize the physical strain on the queen in the interim), a healthy pink pre-wommon was welcomed into
the castle. Many gender-neutral names were considered for her, such as Connor, Tucker, and Taylor, that might have lessened any
sexual discrimination she would encounter on her career path (for, while she was born a princess, her parents would never presume
to limit her future to one of mindless leisure and privilege). After talking to a few image consultants, they decided to give her the name Rosamond.
The king was so happy and so proud of his now-obvious potency that he ordered a huge banquet to be held. Special guests from all over the kingdom came and feasted on
exotic fruits, rare vegetables, and whole-grain casseroles (although nobody touched the lovely placenta paella). The most special of all the guests were 12 magickally
accomplished womyn, famous throughout the land for their wisdom and their rejection of the hegemony of analytic Western rationalism. After the feast, each wommon walked
up to the persun of newbornness and gave her a blessing.
"May this pre-wommon be blessed with a body image with which she is comfortable," said the first.
"May she have a keep analytical mind that also leaves room for intuition and inspiration," said the next.
"May she have good math skills," said the third, and so on, down the line.
But either through oversight or superstition, the king failed to invite the 13th member of this magick sorority. Humiliated by this snub, she snuck
into the gathering and hid in the shadows, nurturing her resentment. When she could stand it no longer, she pushed her way to the center of the
crowd and was up-front with her emotions: "So you think you can create the perfect persun with all your blessings? Not if I can help it!" She
strode up to the royal bassinet and said to tiny Rosamond, "May you grow up thinking you can't be complete without a man, put unrealistic
hopes of perfect and total happiness on your marriage, and become a bored, dissatisfied, and unfulfilled housewife!"
Everyone in the room gasped in fright! How could anyone be so morally out of the mainstream to wish such a terrible fate on a defenseless
child? The 13th wommon cackled in a manner that just happened to the maniacal and, ignoring everyone's pleas to stay and talk through their
differences, disappeared into the shadows.
Luckily for little Rosamond, the 13th magickal wommon had long ago rejected the validity of empirical scientific thought, and as a result had forgotten how to count. The
vengeful sorceron did not realize that the 12th magickal wommon had not yet given her blessing on the child. While this wise and kind sister could not undo what had been
done, she could lessen the agony of this terrible curse. She walked up to the pre-adult and said, "When you are just reaching the prime of puberty, may you prick your finger on
a spinning wheel and fall asleep for 100 years. By that time, perhaps men will be more evolved and your pain in finding a progressive, affirming lifemate will not be so great."
With all these supernatural blessings, curses, and overrides, the king became so fearful for his daughter that he ordered
every spinning wheel in the kingdom destroyed. Deprived of a means of producing any fabric, the people of the kingdom
were forced to devise new ways of reusing old clothing, and thus reduced their conspicuous consumption and eased the
burden on their landfills.
As the years passed, Rosamond grew into an intelligent, compassionate, and self-actualized young wommon. Whether she
was also physically attractive is of no importance here and also depends entirely on one's standard of beauty. It also
perpetuates the myth that all princesses are beautiful, and that their beauty gives them liberty over the fates of others. So,
please, don't even bring up the fact that she was quite a looker.
One day, when her parents were off on a retreat to learn to release their "inner peasant," Rosamond began to explore her
castle. She came upon a doorway she had never seen before, which led to a winding stairway up into a tower. At the top of
the tower was a little room, where Rosamond found a temporally advanced wommon busy at her spinning wheel.
"What are you doing, sister?" Rosamond asked.
"Recapturing the means of production and staking ground in my own economic empowerment," she replied sweetly.
"It looks like fun, yet so educational and enriching; may I try?" But no sooner had Rosamond touched the wheel than her
finger was severely pricked. And before she could decide whether alyssum or lobelia tincture would make the best balm for
the wound, she fell into a deep state of nonwakability.
At the instant Rosamond fell asleep, in an inspiring display of solidarity, everyone in the castle also began to slumber. The
environmental hygienist stopped scrubbing the floor, the domestic engineer stopped dusting, the laundron stopped washing
the clothes, and all fell asleep right where they were. Even the nonhuman animal residents -- while they certainly weren't bound to obey or emulate the humans -- stopped in
their tracks and nodded off.
Around the castle the grounds were left untouched and reverted to their natural wildness. As the castle's inhabitants slept, thorn bushes grew thickly and heavily year after year,
so that soon they blocked passage to the castle and eventually obscured it from view entirely. This vibrant new bio-district would have gone unmolested, if not for the lustful and
destructive natures of the males in the surrounding kingdoms. Legends grew about the castle and the sleeping princess therein -- who now had become an unsurpassed
beauty in the wish-fulfilling stories that the men recounted. Many young princes, in a rush of hubris and testosterone, sought to disrupt the thorny ecosystem and awaken the
princess, as if she were just some windup doll waiting for the man with the right key. But no sooner did these foolhardy adventurers push their way through the vegetation than
the thorn bushes closed tight, ensnaring the men until they returned to the earth from which they came.
Then, after 100 years, through the region rode another prince (and please don't ask how charming he was, either). He had
heard about the environmentally friendly castle and its REM-enhanced inhabitants, and was intrigued by the idea of a place so
at peace with itself. He dismounted from his trusty equine companion and walked up to the thick hedge. With a creak and a
rustle, it opened to let him pass, and he walked through its verdant portal. Once inside the castle, the prince marveled at the
stillness around him. All the people, all the animals, all the birds -- even the fire in the grate -- were perfectly motionless.
Amazed by all this self-control, the prince believed he had stumbled upon a top-notch meditation center and rejoiced, for he
was a pilgrim dedicated to self-improvement and transcendence to the Absolute Reality. He began to search the grounds for
the sensory deprivation tanks, then found the door to the tower and ascended the stairs.
When he opened the door to Rosamond's room and saw her lying there, the prince marveled at her serenity and composure.
He knew immediately that she was the one responsible for the enlightenment of the castle. Eager to learn from such a
venerable mistress, he touched her on the arm, then tapped her, then poked her, then shook her, then jostled her. "She is in
such a deep meditative state that the outside world completely falls away for her," said the prince. "Oh, I must follow this
teacher!" To show his reverence, he crawled to the foot of her cot, kissed her slippered foot, and settled into a lotus position.
Immediately Rosamond began to stir. She coughed and smacked her lips numerous times, trying to get rid of the taste of 100
years of morning mouth. She sat up and saw the figure sitting at the end of her cot, and instantly something changed inside her.
All of Rosamond's independence, education, and previous persunal growth fell away like a cloak, and she swooned like a
starlet in a cheap melodrama. "My prince, you have awakened me!" she chirped loudly.
The prince was awestruck. He didn't realize what he had done, and hardly had the breath to say, "Oh, I beg your forgiveness,
teacher. I did not want to disturb your meditation. I seek only your guidance . . . "
"But I am not your teacher," she giggled. "I am your princess, and you have come to take me away from all this, make me your bride, bring me to a big castle with a white
picket fence, and let me live happily ever after!"
"Take you away? From this Shangri-la, this Utopia? But your entire castle is a huge vortex of positive energy, the perfect place to expand our consciousness and pursue
"What are you talking about? Come and kiss me!"
"Kiss you?" he asked in a very disappointed voice. "Oh teacher, how carnal! You do not think me worthy of enlightenment."
"But you are the only man who could arrive here and break the spell," she cried. "We were fated to be together."
"Teacher, you should know there is no such thing as fate," corrected the prince, "only our unique destinies, and if we are lucky, a little synchronicity thrown in here and there."
"Don't use such big words," Rosamond pouted. "Didn't you come here to marry me and make me a fulfilled wommon?"
The prince thought for a second, then looked panicked. "Teacher, please! Your riddles are too much for a neophyte such as I. Be patient with me, I beg you."
"A hundred years is long enough to be patient," she insisted. "It's bad enough that none of my friends will be alive to come to my wedding, but on top of that, I get a prince who
doesn't want to get physical, only metaphysical."
The prince looked supremely lost. This was certainly not how he'd envisioned a meeting with an exalted teacher. "I don't know about you," he said with a sigh, "but I could really
go for a nice, soothing colonic."
The frustrated Rosamond begged the prince to be her mate, but her tears, bribes, and threats could not move him. The prince, who wanted to get in touch with his own
emotions rather than hers, continued to beseech her for her knowledge and insights (which were rather scanty, as you might understand, despite her 116 years on the planet).
With their arguing, they stayed up long into the night, as did the rest of the castle after a monumental catnap. And so, with this sad standoff, the prophecies of the 12th sister or
sorcery, as well as those of the 13th, were fulfilled.