Once upon a time there was a faraway kingdom, which was not as far away as people would have you believe. Really, it was only two or three days as the crow flies, and crows are renowned for their efficacious travels and on the dot punctuality. The name of this kingdom was Hoisin, which is also the name of a sweet and sour sauce, coincidentally. Hoisin was ruled by King Edwin the Decent, so named because he was a good man, but no saint. He was jovial and even-tempered, but don’t expect him to help move your couch or remember your birthday. He did love his wife, Queen Helen, and their daughter, Princess Brooke.
Brooke is the subject of this story, the titular character, if you will. For on the day she was born, she was cursed by Gresmerelda, a wicked and ugly witch. Well, ugly is a bit harsh, I suppose. She did have a nose that was impossible to miss, and a bit of a mustache, and her brow resembled many of the geological formations found in the Southwestern United States. That being said, she had an enviable head of long, black hair, dainty hands that could have been used for modeling and a caboose like you wouldn’t believe. But wicked! Gresmerelda had been invited to the Princess’s birthday party after complaining about the fact she was never invited to the castle, and what does she do? The moment she laid eyes on the newborn Brooke, she cast a spell. “Huggeldy, Puggeldy, Muggeldy, Mooze! When the Princess turns sixteen, she will forever snooze!” At this, Gresmerelda cackled maliciously, and the Queen Helen clutched the baby to her person, wailing. The King ordered the witch arrested immediately, but Gresmerelda had magically disappeared, as had her cherry cheesecake. She was wicked to the core!
Needless to say, this put a damper on the mood at the castle and King Edwin 86ed the festivities. Princess Brooke was forbidden from leaving the castle grounds and was placed under constant supervision. Except for reading her diary and other girly things like that, the guards followed her everywhere and tutored her in math, science, magicks, comic books and surveillance. They even formed a volleyball league which also included her handmaiden and the court jester, who didn’t understand puns but had an incredible serve.
As her sixteenth birthday drew closer, King Edwin grew more and more nervous and called upon his favorite sorcerer, Adamus Neubauersky for guidance. The sorcerer performed a mystical examination on the Princess, and his diagnosis was surprisingly positive. “Clean bill of health,” he advised, “though she does have two gall bladders, which, okay, I’m no medical expert, but I believe is abnormal. But no signs of any curses, spells or mumbo jumbos. She’s as kosher as a pickle spear, and a heckuva volleyball player, from what I hear.” The King rejoiced! Not only was his daughter safe from harm, he had someone to turn to if ever he was in need of a gall bladder. A blessed day indeed!
Right away, Edwin and Queen Helen began planning the Princess Brooke’s Sweet Sixteen, to be held once again in the castle, and once again, they would invite the wicked Gresmerelda, this time to gloat. They held a fancy ball and potluck dinner in her honor, and the King took great pride in presenting her long-awaited introduction to the kingdom.
“My people, I introduce to you my daughter, the beautiful Princess Brooke!” The crowd gasped as she entered the room, for she just about tripped on the second step. She wore a tasteful neon orange taffeta dress and a lime green bow in her hair the size of a helicopter’s propeller blades. She was not, as King Edwin had described, beautiful. She was however, very pretty, and smiled warmly at the partygoers. They all smiled back politely, except for Gresmerelda, who cackled openly, for she was wicked and did not care who heard her cackle. King Edwin glowered at her. “What is all this cackling about?” he thundered. “We have had our daughter examined by the greatest and most affordable sorcerer in all the land and he found no sign of your so-called curse.”
“Ah, but the curse was cleverly disguised as a second gall bladder,” the witch said. Just then, the Princess yawned loudly and stretched her arms, settling in the nearest chair as her eyelids began to droop.
“Quickly, all of you, she’s beginning to get sleepy! Do something interesting, stat!” the King shouted. Rex the carpet salesman showed her his book of samples, Walt the accountant relayed the story of how he once found six dollars extra in the Royal Bank Book and subsequently discovered a sandwich receipt he had never seen, and Bronwen the sandwich lady told of the time the King bought a six dollar sandwich and almost forgot his receipt. But it was to no avail! Brooke slipped into a light snooze as her head dropped precariously close to her tapioca pudding.
“Cackle, cackle, cackle,” cackled Gresmerelda. “Now, she will doze fitfully forevermore, unless a handsome prince kisses her.”
At the revelation of that loophole, the King sent a decree searching for all the handsome princes in all the neighboring lands, and by the week’s end he had responses from dozens of princes. The only problem was that none were exactly what you would call handsome, though most were certainly good-looking. But there were no true knockouts in the bunch. Soon, the king was beside himself in dismay.
“Where, oh where are all the handsome princes these days? Haven’t these guys ever heard of a gym or a haircut?” He rent his garment like a home movie, and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed some more.
“Kingy, here’s the thingy,” Adamus Neubauersky said. “Princess Brooke, she’s a great kid, but you see, she’s not beautiful. Pretty for sure, but drop dead gorgeous, not quite. I know you don’t see that, seeing as how you’re her daddy, daddy-o, but trust me; it’s as true as the nose on my magical mug. And because of this fact, these princes would do in a pinch.”
King Edwin, chagrined, agreed to disagree. He called upon the closest Prince, Prince Calvin of Paprika, to kiss his daughter and awake her. It was agreed that Calvin, while no prize, was no slouch in the looks department, either, and he was equally as attractive as Brooke. “I shalt kisseth thine daughter, fair King,” Calvin said, speaking in very Olde English. “However, I firsteth must winneth her affections upon a date betwixt us two.”
“Uh, okay, but you do know she’s asleep,” King Edwin said.
“This matters not, for mine charms canst penetrateth the deepest of slumbers,” Calvin assured. The fact of the matter was that Princess Brooke was able to walk and speak a bit, since her sleeping took the form of a light doze, and she both walked and talked in her sleep. It was primarily gibberish, but the occasional word could be understood.
And so it was arranged that Prince Calvin would have dinner and see a show that evening, after which he would kiss the Princess, presumably waking her.
At six PM, Calvin escorted the snoozing Princess to the dining hall, where they were served tomato soup, roast beef and potatoes and flaming pudding for dessert. “Art thou sated, my dear, thou hast not touchedeth thine repast,” the Prince asked.
“Mmbzl volleyball zblm,” Brooke muttered.
“Too true, too true,” Calvin laughed.
After dinner, the couple retired to the Prince’s carriage to watch an outdoor theatre troupe perform The Amazing Colossal Gentleman of Verona. Finally, Prince Calvin walked the dozing Princess Brooke to her doorstep, proclaimed the date a triumph of charisma and enchantment, and kissed her lightly on the cheek. King Edwin, watching from the front window, rushed out to protest. “No, no!” he shouted. “You must kiss her on the lips or the spell won’t be broken.”
“Nay, good king, I cannot kisseth her upon her lips until the third date, at the leasteth,” Prince Calvin said. The King beseeched the Prince to make an exception, but he was bespurned by the Prince and besparking up the wrong tree. Calvin would not budge; he was an amazing colossal gentleman. And with that, they were back to square one.
As luck would have it, Prince Calvin had a twin brother, Hank, who didn’t so much stand on ceremony as he sat fifty paces away from it. When the King asked him to kiss Princess Brooke, Hank acquiesced with a shrugged, “Sure.” And with that, Brooke blinked, stretched and yawned. “Sweet Josephine Christmas Tree,” she said, “that was the worst nap I ever had!”
And so, after a week of fitful snoozing, Brooke spent an afternoon sleeping peacefully and awoke two hours later, refreshed and curse-free. And she lived happily ever after.
The moral of the story is that some stories are worth telling, and some should just be left alone. I leave you, dear reader; to decide which best describes this story.