Some years ago, one of my goddaughters had become fascinated by her Auntie Gina’s lifestyle and demanded to know if I lived alone and whether or not I had a husband. She was heartbroken when I told her that I’m not married, pleading, “But why? Why don’t you have a husband?”
Now . . . I’m not the best with kids, so I immediately began down a laundry list of reasons that were, quite frankly, TMI for a five year old. I stopped myself and tried to explain as delicately as possible without creeping the kid out, or giving her parents a lot of questions to answer later.
She thought that, by then, I certainly should have kissed enough frogs to have found my prince.
Fairy tales are fun to believe in and they make beautiful animated movies. Little girls love Cinderella and Snow White, and while it’s a sweet phase that’s full of innocence, naivete, billowy dresses and shiny shoes, I couldn’t WAIT for my godchild to grow out of it.
But, what's even scarier? I’ve realized over the years that some of us NEVER grow out of it. There are adult women who roam the earth dreaming of that glass slipper. Some of us want to believe in fairy tales – whether they’re the traditional or more contemporary adult fairy tales, alias Chick-Lit.
Chick-lit is fun to read, but the books are little more than modern-day fairy tales born from the minds of authors who are undoubtedly trying to work out their own love lives. (When I'm being crass, I refer to chick-lit as a writer's whack-off.)
Don't get me wrong. Some of my best friends are chick-lit authors. I love the stories, and some of them are extremely well-written. But they should only be used for escapism.
Sure, it’s a wonderful idea to think that we each have a rich, handsome prince who is going to find us, save us and make all of our dreams come true for the rest of our lives. It’s also a nice thought that your handsome next-door-neighbor is really a millionaire in disguise who is secretly hiding his wealth to see if you truly love him.
Several years ago, one of my friends rated each man she dated against a list of more than 30 attributes. Some of her must-haves were very specific, like “must own two pieces of property.” The rest of them were nitpicky, down to hair and eye color and the books in his collection.
While I’m an advocate of list-making and being cognizant of what you’re looking for, she had taken it way too far, and would have been better off going into a lab and creating her own man. (Which would actually be a great option, were it possible.)
When none of the men she dated could live up to her expectations, she finally realized that the man of her dreams existed, yes, but only in her dreams. She restructured her list to fit a person who might actually exist in this world.
I can’t help but think that adult fixations on fairy tales set believers up for disappointment. I’m not suggesting that anyone settle, or that your hopes of finding a great man are off-base. I’m merely encouraging everyone to be realistic. There are some good guys out there, but most of them aren’t identical to the characters drawn in the gilded pages of an enchanted fairy tale. Nor do they resemble the leading man in chick-lit novels.
I have some work to do with my goddaughters. I plan to guide them to a place where they’re not looking for a trademarked Mr. Wonderful, while remaining appropriately optimistic about their “ever afters.”
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