Once upon a time, there was a kingdom with more than its share of pretty, kind young ladies. All of them, of course, had troubles of one kind or another. It’s part of growing up, I suppose.
This was a magic kingdom, and so many of these young ladies had fairy godmothers. Each godmother only wanted the best for the young lady in her care. Unfortunately, even though this kingdom had lots of wonderful young ladies, it only had one prince.
And so, when the young prince held a ball and sent out invitations to all the young ladies and their families, the fairy godmothers all declared war. There were some that were working from a disadvantage, because their young ladies had obstacles preventing them from attending the ball. It only made their fairy godmothers more determined to get them there.
The fairy godmothers needed something to work their magic on, so each of the young ladies needed to start out with a basic dress. Naturally, the dress shops in town had expected to sell out of all their fanciest dresses, the kind that are all beads and lace and embroidery and far too many layers.
Instead, they had a hard time keeping the simple dresses in stock. They worked late into the night stitching together cheap cotton dresses while the dresses they’d designed with care and love sat in the shop window day after day.
Meanwhile, the fairy godmothers pulled out their wands and the battles began. Small animals were sent from house to house to spy on the competition. Dress designs changed from one moment to the next, depending on the competition.
“The blue fairy is adding a sparkling overlay of snowflakes stitched in silver? Doesn’t she know that the snow queen look is so last year? Wait until she sees the beaded roses on your gown!”
And of course, there was the issue of transportation. The girls couldn’t walk to the ball or take a taxi. Who did that? Coaches were made from vegetables and fruit and sticks and seashells and mailboxes, and bugs and mice and worms were transformed to drive them.
Eventually, each young lady was wearing a fantastic dress, standing next to her coach. It was time for the finishing touch. Each fairy godmother smiled. This was the easy part. They waved their wands and said the magic words. Each young lady was now wearing a pair of clear, glass slippers. “The magic lasts until the last stroke of midnight,” the godmothers warned.
And the young ladies went to the ball. Some were early, some on time, some late. All were lovely. The prince danced with them all. He had no idea how he was supposed to pick a future wife after one dance. Most of the young ladies he met seemed pretty and kind.
The young ladies were also having a wonderful evening, except that they were learning that glass slippers were uncomfortable and hard to dance in. They had to be tight enough to pinch a little, or they’d slide right off. They didn’t allow the toes to bend or the foot to shift easily from side to side. Worst dancing shoes ever.
And then, the clock struck midnight. At once, most of the girls jumped up and ran for the door. Alarmed, the prince followed them. What was going on?
The girls looked at the steep steps and every one of them pulled their slippery glass shoes off and left them at the top of the steps. Then, they jumped into their carriages and rode away.
The prince looked around at the pile of glass shoes, and then watched the carriages race away. He walked slowly back inside. The ladies left inside the room were a little less wonderful than the girls who had just left. However, the girls who had just left seemed to be a little strange.
“So, did you find a nice girl to marry?” the queen asked her son.
The prince sighed. “I don’t know. It was too hard to decide.”
“Maybe we should hold another ball. If you spend more time with them, maybe you’ll get to know them better and find one you like the best,” the queen said.
A week later, another invitation was sent out. Round two. The dresses were fancier. The carriages were crazier. The shoes were still glass.
The queen stood next to the prince just after midnight and looked at the piles of glass shoes on the steps. “Maybe we should send you to visit your grandparents’ kingdom where I grew up. I think the girls in this kingdom are a little too strange. They’re pretty and nice, but strange.”
When the prince found his bride elsewhere, the fairy godmothers were outraged. Within a matter of two weeks, they’d all sent the young ladies in their care on quests. The kingdom seemed a lot smaller when they left. There were a lot less glass slippers, too.
In the end, too many godmothers spoil the ball.