The Mating Game
by Katherine Allen
Once upon a time, on a dark and stormy night, there sat a princess by her fireplace. And she sat, dreaming about the rush of suitors she would soon receive. Her mother entered the room.
“Charming,” she said, sighing. “You’ve been sitting by that fireplace for the last week. I know you’re excited about meeting your first set of suitors... but must you moon about them all the time?”
“Oh, Mother,” Princess Charming sighed. “What if none of them like me? I don’t think I could stand that! I’d just die!!!!”
“Dear,” the old queen replied, rolling her eyes, “your father is one of the richest kings on the continent. It’s drawing princes like flies. There are now over three hundred princes, with more arriving every hour. Out of that many, chances are one of them will like your father’s money enough to marry you.”
“Oh, Mother! You make it sound so... unromantic! So... cheap!”
“Cheap! What do you mean cheap??? Marrying a daughter off is one of the most expensive things there is! Do you have any idea how much three hundred testosterone-ridden boys eat???!!!”
“Mother, you make it sound as though I’m not worth it!”
“Of course you’re worth it, precious. Now make yourself more worth it and go flirt. And remember, looks aren’t everything! Don’t forget what you are.”
The princess smiled, “A princess with a big dowry!”
* * *
Princess Charming looked beautiful. Her shimmering blond tresses cascaded down her back. Her bright green eyes sparkled like the clear waters of Jamaica. And on her lovely and delicately formed forehead was a wart the size of the Chrysler Building.
“Mother,” she said skeptically as she surveyed herself in the mirror, “why am I wearing this wart again?”
“Uhhh, you’ll find out in a moment.”
The princess turned and, hugging her mother, adjusted her dress and swept toward the door. Upon opening it, she heard a chorus of croaking unlike anything since the times of ancient Egypt. With the astonishment plainly written on her face she looked over the banister. On the floor of the ballroom there sat at least five hundred frogs!!!
“Well, dear,” The Queen said. “What are you waiting for? Go pick one.”
Still stunned, the princess nodded and walked silently down the stairs. When she neared the floor the chorus of croaking turned to words. “Princess! Pick me! Pick me!” The various frogs croaked and harrumphed. They hopped and skipped; they flicked their tongues out and blew up their throats.
The princess, (understandably somewhat hysterical by this time) sank down onto the floor. She was immediately rushed by a mob of frogs. Soon her lovely dress was covered with flies and mosquitoes, the presents from the princes.
Then the lone toad of the group hopped over; delicately he placed a still-living butterfly on her lap and turned away.
“Well,” the princess thought to herself, “I could do worse. At least he can give pretty gifts.” So she reached over and picked the toad up. Bringing his warty face to her lips, she kissed the toad. Suddenly, she herself was turned into a toad.
And, despite the moans and groans of the Queen, they lived happily ever after in the palace pond.
Oh, and the wart on her forehead? It was admired forever as her greatest beauty.
Copyright © 2005 by Katherine Allen