by Paul W. Marino
Once upon a time there was a girl named Cindy Rella. Her father was the famous door-to-door salesman, Ronald Rella. He sold more door-to-doors than anyone else in history. In fact, he was so successful that he was able to open a store, where he sold every type of door-to-door imaginable. But for all his success, Mr. Rella was very unhappy, because he was a widower, so Cindy had to stay home all alone while he worked at his door-to-door store.
Cindy didn’t mind; she loved working, and there was so much to be done about the house that she was never bored or unhappy. But her father was not comforted by this, and one day he sat down in dejection (chairs weren’t popular yet).
“Oh! Alas!” He moaned. “Alas! Alas! Alas!”
“What’s wrong, Daddy?” Cindy asked.
“Oh! Alas! Alas!” He replied. “Alas for me! That I must spend my days and nights alone with no helpmate! And alas for you, too, my poor child!” Cindy sniffled unhappily.
“Yes,” she agreed. “Alas for me too!” She sobbed bitterly a few times, then stopped and thought about it. “Hey, wait a minute! What am I crying about? I may not have a Mommy anymore, but I still have you!”
“True, my miffy muffin!” Her father sobbed. “In all the wide world, we have only each other! Oh! The long, lonely hours I spend at the door-to-door store! Oh! The many times my friend has said to me—......”
“Friend?” Cindy gasped. “Oh, Daddy! Surely you have many friends!”
“No, my dear,” he said fondly. “I’ve only got the one........and don’t call me Shirley.”
“Sorry, Daddy.” Her father thought for a second, trying to remember what he’d been whining about. Then it came to him, so he frowned happily.
“Oh! The many times my friend has said to me, Ronald, how long must you suffer in silence?!” Which explains why he was making a fuss about it then. “So I’ve come to a decision!”
“Really? What have you decided?” Mr. Rella stood up and struck a heroic pose (that means he stood funny, not that he actually hit anything).
“I’ve decided it’s time I went and sought a wife!” He declared.
“A wife!!! What do you want a wife for?”
“Why!” Mr. Rella laughed. “So I can marry her, of course!”
“Marry her!!!! But Daddy!”
“So she can share my lonely hours and brighten my life!”
“So I can have someone to be a helpmate for me and a mother for you!”
“So I can have someone to take care of you while I’m at the door-to-door store!”
“So we can all live happily ever after!”
“Yes, my chummy chip-chop?”
Cindy spoke slowly, to make sure her father understood her.
“That sounds wonderful, Daddy. It really does, but, a wife is a woman who’s married. If you want to get married, shouldn’t you be looking for a single woman?” Mr. Rella laughed.
“Oho! You’re a clever girl, my dimply dumpling, but there is so much about the world that you don’t understand yet! Well! I’m off!” And away he went, never stopping to think that being off is nothing to brag about.
He traveled far and wide, and found many, many wives, but just as Cindy had tried to warn him, all of them were married already. And all of their husbands got very angry when he proposed to them.
But finally, one day he came running into the house, happy and excited.
“Cindy, my fuzzy wish-wash! I’ve done it! I’ve found a wife!”
“That’s wonderful, Daddy,” Cindy sighed. “But how does her husband feel about her getting married to you?”
“That’s the best part, my pretty pipsqueak! I’ve found a wife who isn’t married!” Cindy had to sit down and drink a glass of water, as that was a little too weird, even for her family!
“Daddy.......how can a wife not be married?”
“Simple! She’s a widow, just like me!” He father answered. “Her name is Roberta Stooj; she lives down on Fire Lane with her daughters Muffy and Buffy.” Cindy sighed with relief.
“Well, that makes a great deal of sense, Daddy! When’s the wedding?”
“Tomorrow.” Cindy shrieked in horror.
“Tomorrow???!!! But I have so much to do! I have to press your tuxedo! I have to grow flowers for your lapel and the bride’s bouquet! I have cooking and cleaning to do! Couldn’t you put it off until the day after tomorrow?”
“I’m sorry, my tibble-tee tumtum, but I’ve spent too much time away from the door-to-door store already. Tomorrow it must be.”
So the wedding was held the very next day, and as soon as it was done, Mr. Rella brought his new wife home to meet his daughter. Now Mrs. Stooj knew that Mr. Rella already had a daughter, so before they got married she studied the Stepmother’s Manual very carefully, so she could do the job properly. And so, as soon as Cindy had curtseyed to her, she slapped her so hard that Cindy flipped over backwards.
“Oh, Cindy!” She cried. “Get up off the floor, child! Here! Let Mother help you!” And she seized Cindy’s ear and pulled her to her feet. “Now come along and meet your new sisters!” Still holding Cindy’s ear, she towed her over to her own daughters and introduced them.
“Cindy, this is my eldest daughter, Muffy.”
“Hello, Muffy,” Cindy said. “It’s so nice to meet you.” Muffy—having studied the Stepsister’s Manual, correctly stuck out her tongue in reply. The new Mrs. Rella jerked Cindy’s head the other way and said,
“And this is my youngest, Buffy.”
“How do you do, Buffy?” Cindy asked, wincing at the pain of having her ear pulled. “Isn’t it lovely weather we’re having?” Buffy tossed her hair. Fortunately, it was a wig, so she didn’t bump her head when it landed.
“My! What wonderful manners you have!” Mrs. Rella declared cheerfully as she dragged Cindy back across the room. “It’s a pity I’m your stepmother. I’m sure we’d love each other if we met socially!” She released Cindy’s ear and slapped her affectionately. At last, Cindy had a Mommy again!
Unfortunately, the new Mrs. Rella had a very difficult time with Cindy. She took her duties as a stepmother very seriously, and worked hard to be as mean and nasty as she possibly could. But Cindy enjoyed working so much that she was always delighted when she was given extra work to do. Like when she was made to wait on her stepsisters, she laughed and said it was like having a job in a restaurant. No, it wasn’t easy being mean to Cindy! But Mrs. Rella took fresh hope one day when an invitation came in the mail.
When she opened the envelope she cried,
“Girls! Listen to this! The local Prince is looking for a wife, so he’s holding a ball at the palace tonight! We’re all invited!”
“Cool!” Muffy said.
“Neat!” Buffy remarked.
“Well,” Cindy said. “I think it’s a silly idea. If he wants to get married, he should be looking for a single woman. I said the same thing to Daddy, but he wouldn’t listen to me.” Mrs. Rella laughed.
“Men never listen, sweetheart,” she said, twisting Cindy’s nose with violent affection. “Now Cindy, you set to work and start shearing the sheep. You have three gowns to make! I want red silk with seed pearls brocaded in the breast, puffed sleeves and gold thread trim.”
“Gold......thread.....trim.....” Cindy repeated, writing it down in her notebook.
“I want a green gown,” Muffy said. “With lots of lace and crinoline.”
“Blue floor length,” Buffy said. “Silver trim, ruffled bodice, a matching lace shawl and a tiara.”
“Lace.....shawl......and......tiara......got it!” Mrs. Rella sneered kindly and said,
“I’m sooooooo sorry, Cindy, that there won’t be time to make a gown for you!”
“Oh, that’s okay, Mom! I didn’t want to go anyw—....”
“But there’s just too much work to be done here!” Mrs. Rella said quickly.
“Yeah, I know. I don’t even like danc—.....”
“Don’t you argue with me!” Mrs. Rella snapped angrily. “Now go on and start on those sheep!”
“Yes, Mom,” Cindy answered and slipped out the door. Her stepmother sighed testily. Being a stepmother was really tough!
Cindy worked busily all day long making the dresses, stopping only to cook and serve lunch and dinner, wash the dishes, weed the garden, patch the roof, wash and wax the coach and pave the driveway. And so, soon after the dinner dishes were washed, Cindy helped her Mommy and stepsisters into their coach and waved goodbye, then went back into the house and began scrubbing the kitchen floor.
All of a sudden, there was a loud *ping!*, a brilliant flash of light and a shower of sparkling fairy dust! Cindy sighed in resignation, as she’d just dusted the whole house that morning. And there, before her, stood a strange-looking woman in a shining white gown crowned with laurel leaves.
“Hello, Cindy!” She said.
“Who are you?” Cindy asked.
“I’m your Fairy Godmother!”
“You are? How come I’ve never seen you before?”
“Hm? Oh, um........it’s a........fairy thing, dearie......but the important thing is, I’m here now, and I’m going to make your fondest dreams come true!” Cindy gasped with joy.
“You mean........they’re going to let me design the new cathedral??? Oh, goodie!!!!!” Cindy began jumping up and down with excitement.
Her Fairy Godmother cleared her throat.
“Ummm.......not exactly, sweetheart.....it’s something much better than that!” Cindy gaped in awe.
“You mean.........I’m going to get to climb the Matterhorn??!!! Yippee!!!!!!” The Fairy Godmother rubbed her forehead.
“No.......no.......it’s something better even than that.” Cindy clutched her chest in disbelief.
“I’m........I’m going to be the first girl to fly around the world solo?!!!! Oh! Golly gee whillikers!!!!!” Cindy began hopping merrily around the room. Her Fairy Godmother rolled her eyes in exasperation.
“Cindy.......CINDY!!!!! Hold still!” When Cindy was still, her Fairy Godmother grinned and said, “What would you say......if I told you......that you were going........”
“On a world cruise?!”
“No! No! No! No! NO!!!!” The Fairy Godmother stamped her feet in frustration, then heaved a deep breath and said all in a rush: “What would you say if I told you that you were going to the ball at the palace tonight?” Then she grinned,
but to her surprise, Cindy looked disappointed!
The Fairy Godmother was so perturbed that she sighed unhappily. Then Cindy realized how much it meant to her Fairy Godmother, so she forced a smile and said,
“Oh, that......that sounds wonderful, Fairy Godmother. But it’s much too late! I don’t have anything to wear, or any way to get there. Maybe if we just played a few hands of Texas Hold ‘em?” The Fairy Godmother forced a smile and said,
“Late, schmate! Go get a pumpkin. The biggest one you got!” So Cindy brought her one that weighed a ton or two, and the Fairy Godmother waved her wand and turned it into a charming carriage. Then she had Cindy fetch six mice that she turned into horses, and three lizards that she turned into coachmen. Then she waved her wand over Cindy—scattering more fairy dust everywhere—and when it settled, Cindy was dressed in a beautiful gem-encrusted gown. Her hair was all done up in an incredible style, she had diamond earrings and was wearing glass shoes with six-inch heels. Then her Fairy Godmother gave her a hug and warned her to be home before midnight, as it wasn’t healthful for her to stay up too late. And off Cindy had to go to the ball.
When she got there, the ball was in full swing. The prince was dancing with six ladies at once, but when he saw Cindy and how beautiful she was, his jaw dropped to the floor and his eyes popped half out of his head! Waving away the ladies, he picked up his jaw, stuck it back on his face where it belonged and walked quickly over to Cindy, rudely knocking ladies out of his way.
“Well, well, well!” He said. “Where have you been all my life?”
“Well,” Cindy replied. “I guess that all depends on where you’ve been. I’ve b—....” The prince laughed.
“Oooh! That’s funny! You wanna dance?”
“Not really. I don’t even like dancing. I just came here as a favor to my Fa—.....”
“That’s okay! So we can talk for a while! What do you do for excitement?”
“I like hunting, Polo and shooting peasants. Are you ready to dance now?”
“Not really, I—......”
“Good!” The prince grabbed Cindy and dragged her out onto the dance floor.
Several hours later, Cindy managed to gasp,
“Can we stop now? My feet are killing me!”
“But the night is still young!” The prince laughed. “Look! It’s not even midnight yet!” Cindy looked at the clock and saw he was right; it was only 11:53. Remembering what her Fairy Godmother had told her about staying up too late, she cleared her throat and said,
“Look, Princie......I, um.......I have to use the powder room.” The prince frowned.
“But you’ll come right back?” Cindy smiled.
“Is the Pope protestant?” The prince shrugged and released her.
Cindy walked away quickly. Another lady stepped up to the prince at once.
“Oh, Your Royal Highness!” She gushed. “Thank you so much for inviting me! Shall we dance?”
“No, my feet are killing me!” The prince answered, walking away. He was wondering what Cindy could need with gun powder, which was all he kept in the Powder Room. He followed Cindy and saw to his horror that she wasn’t going to the Powder Room at all, but was running down the stairs so fast that she lost one of her glass shoes. The prince ran after her, but she was too fast for him. All he came back with was her shoe.
Well! Needless to say, the ball was over! The prince sent everyone home (except the ones lived in the palace anyway, like his Royal Butler, his Royal Footmen, his Royal Cook, and so on). Then he summoned his Royal Butler and declared he was going to marry the girl with the glass shoes, and no one else.
“Why, thank you, Your Royal Highness!” Replied the Butler. “But I’m already married.”
“No, no, no!” The prince said. “I mean I’m going to marry the girl with the glass shoes! Not you!”
“And how do you propose to find her, Your Royal Highness?”
“Simple!” The prince answered. “We’ll go to all the women in the kingdom and have them try on this shoe. Whoever the shoe fits is the girl I’m looking for!”
“Brilliant, Your Royal Highness!” The Butler exclaimed, never stopping to think that many of the women in the kingdom might have the same shoe size. Men were pretty stupid like that in those days.
Meanwhile, Cindy got home in record time, took off the fabulous gown and stuffed it into her Mommy’s closet, took a quick shower and dressed in her favorite work dress. And just as she was settling down to sleep, her Mommy and stepsisters came in, all angry and upset.
“How was the ball, Mom?” Cindy asked.
“Terrible!” Muffy shouted, stomping past Cindy.
“It was stupid!” Buffy snarled.
“It could have been much nicer,” Mrs. Rella agreed, kicking Cindy lovingly. “There was some beautiful young lady there—she came in unfashionably late—and the prince wouldn’t dance with anyone else all night long. Then, off she went to the bathroom, and the prince stopped the ball flat! And how was your evening, dear?” And she pulled Cindy’s hair affectionately.
“Ow!” Cindy said. “It was okay, thank you.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that! Unpleasant dreams!” She gave Cindy a final slap and went off to bed.
The next morning, bright and early, Cindy’s father came running into the house all excited!
“Roberta!” He shouted. “Cindy! Muffy! Buffy! Get up! Get up! I’ve got news!” Cindy, of course, was already up. But when her father had been shouting for a few minutes, Muffy and Buffy walked into the room in their jammies, rubbing their eyes and yawning. Mrs. Rella came in behind them, wearing her lace nightie and looking grumpy.
“This had better be good, Ronald. We had a late night last night and I need my beauty sleep!”
“Oh, it is good, my sweet! It’s wonderful! Last night, the prince met the girl he wants to marry, and he’s looking for her now!”
“That’s what you got us out of bed for?” Muffy snarled angrily.
“No, my dear, that’s only part of it!” So he told them how the girl had left behind a glass shoe, and how the prince was taking it to every house in the kingdom and having every girl in the house try it on, and how whoever’s foot fit in the shoe would marry the prince and live happily ever after.
“Well!” Cindy declared. “That sounds like a silly plan to me! What happens if two of the women have the same shoe size?” Her father laughed.
“Oho, Cindy my lovely lumpkin! You’re a clever little girl, but there’s so much about the world you don’t understand yet!”
“So the prince is coming here, is he?” Buffy asked, exhibiting rare intelligence.
“Oh, yes!” Ronald said. “He’s on his way here now!”
“Heavens! Why didn’t you say so?!!” Mrs. Rella cried. “I have to get dressed!” And she rushed out of the room, followed by Muffy and Buffy.
“I still think it’s a silly idea,” Cindy said. “I’m going out to fix the pig trough.” And out she went.
A short while later, the prince arrived with his Royal Butler and his Royal Footman (one of them, anyway), who was carrying the shoe.
“O! Your Royal Highness!” Mr. Rella cried. “Welcome to my humble abode!”
“Yeah, whatever!” The prince answered. “Where are the women?”
Mrs. Rella came running in followed by her daughters, all dressed up in their fine dresses.
“Good morning, Your Royal Highness!” She said.
“Hi,” the prince answered. “Have a seat.” Mrs. Rella sat down and slipped her foot out of her slipper. The Royal Footman knelt before her and tried the shoe on her foot, but it didn’t fit.
“It doesn’t fit, Your Royal Highness,” he said. Mrs. Rella shrugged and put her slipper back on as the prince shouted,
Muffy sat down and held out her foot.
“Put it on me, big fella!” She said. The Footman tried to, but it didn’t fit her either.
“It doesn’t fit her either, Your Royal Highness.”
“Oh, poop!” Muffy said.
“Next!” The prince said. So Buffy sat down and held out her foot, saying,
“Put it on! Put it all on!” But the glass shoe didn’t fit her.
“It doesn’t fit her,” said the Footman.
“Ahh, rats!!!” Buffy fumed.
“Oh, great!” The prince fumed. “That’s all the women in the kingdom!”
“Oh, no, Your Royal Highness!” Mr. Rella said. “There’s still my—.....”
“Your sister in St. Louis?” Mrs. Rella said quickly.
“No, no! I mean my—......”
“Your aunt in Appaloosa?”
“Your cousin in Kookamunga?”
“Ohhhh!” Buffy said. “He means Cindy!” Her mother glared at her angrily.
“Yes!” Mr. Rella said. “That’s exactly who I mean! My daughter Cindy!”
“Great,” said the prince. “Where is she?”
“She’s outside, Your Royal Highness.”
“Well, don’t just stand there like a bump on a log! Go get her!!”
Mrs. Rella crossed to Buffy and grabbed her by the ear.
“Buffy, darling, why don’t you call her? Seeing as you have the biggest mouth!”
“Goodness!” Mr. Rella exclaimed. “Do you really think my little Cindy windy could be the one?”
“Cindy windy?” The prince asked sharply.
“Oh, yes!” Mrs. Rella said. “She’s a very windy girl....she breaks it all the time!” The prince grimaced and turned green.
“She does?” He gasped. Just then Buffy came back in.
“She won’t come,” she said. Mrs. Rella scowled.
“What’s the use of sending an idiot!” She muttered. She went to the door and shouted: “Cindy! CINDY!!! If you don’t come in here this minute, I’m not going to let you clean the cesspool!” Cindy was inside in two seconds flat. “Go over there and try that silly shoe on!”
“Gee, I’m kind of busy right now,” Cindy answered. “Couldn’t you come back in a few hours?”
“Oh, come on!” The prince groaned.
“Please, Miss,” the Butler said. “It’ll just be on and off. And if it’s like everyone else we’ve seen today, it won’t even get as far as on.” Cindy sighed unhappily.
“Oh......all right......” She walked across the room slowly and sat down. “I’m sorry my feet aren’t as clean as they might be,” she said to the Footman. “I’ve been in the pigpen, fixing the feeding trough."
“Oh.....think nothing of it,” the Footman said, turning a little green. He looked away as he slipped the shoe on her foot. Then he looked and gasped out loud.
“Your Royal Highness!” He cried. “The shoe fits!”
“WHAAA-AAT????!!!!!” Shouted Mrs. Rella, Muffy and Buffy, all at once.
“Oh! How wonderful!!!” Mr. Rella cried.
“Oh, poop!” Cindy sighed.
“Oh goodie!” Cried the prince. “I’m getting married!”
“Cindy! My lovey dovey!” Mr. Rella cried. “You’re going to be a princess!”
“I’m going to be sick!” Cried Mrs. Rella.
“Now wait a minute!” Cindy said.
“Good one!” Cried the Fairy Godmother, who had suddenly appeared out of nowhere, scattering fairy dust by the bushel.
“Where did she come from?” The prince demanded.
“Hold it!” Cindy cried. “Hold it! Time—out!!!” She held her hands up in a big tee. “Would somebody please explain to me what’s going on here?!!”
“We’re getting married, my sweet!” The prince replied.
“I says. I am a prince, after all.”
“So? What makes you think we’re getting married?”
“The shoe, Your Royal Highness!” The Butler whispered. “The shoe!”
“Oh, yeah! Your foot fits the glass shoe.” Cindy gasped out loud.
“You’re going to base a marriage on shoe size???” The prince gasped.
“Is there anything else?”
“Here,” the Fairy Godmother said. “Let me handle this one. Cindy, honey, what’s the matter here?”
“Fairy Godmother! I don’t want to marry him! We have nothing in common, we don’t know anything about each other, he doesn’t listen to anybody....”
“Men never listen, sweetheart!”
“They don’t? Well......I don’t care! I don’t want to get married to anybody! I’m only fifteen! Am I supposed to marry this clod so I can sit around a palace all day twiddling my thumbs?”
“Hmm!” The Fairy Godmother said. “Good point. What would you rather do?”
“I want to travel! I want to see the world, do some exciting things, see some exotic places.....and maybe someday I’ll get married, but to someone who loves me! And loves me for me, not for my shoe size!”
“Now I am going to be sick!” Mrs. Rella said.
And so it was that Cindy didn’t marry the prince. She stayed at home and did her chores, and her father’s chores, and her stepmother’s chores, and the chores of her next door neighbor, as well as a few other people’s, and when she was old enough, she left home and traveled. She saw lots of exotic places and met lots of interesting people, and lived happily ever after. At least until she discovered disco.