“You can’t be the real Prince Charming, because you know what a high school is.”
Our local high school drama department recently put on “Cinderella.” Which might have explained the sudden and unexplained appearance of Cinderella and Prince Charming in the cafeteria of the elementary school where I work.
Cinderella and Prince Charming didn’t seem too confused by the group of first graders doing anything but eating lunch, nor were they too dazed from the time difference between happily ever after and the recently opened Area 52. In fact, they jumped right into the cafeteria circus, handing out little yellow slips of paper inviting the students to the play and giving them a coupon for free popcorn.
I don’t know how Cinderella and Prince Charming felt about being there that day. I don't know if they rethought this idea--it had sounded so good when student council suggested it--now that they were surrounded by less-than-neat first graders all clamoring for attention, for their ranch packet opened, and for the last golden invitation in Cinderella’s hand. I don’t know how they felt about missing their own lunch and recess with their friends. Maybe their costumes itched. Maybe Cinderella’s tiara pinched. And maybe they were just over this play already.
But I do know what I did see.
Even though they were running short on invitations (the fourth graders having decimated them already), neither Cinderella nor Prince Charming refused any boy or girl who raised their hand. They got down on their knees on the smudged cafeteria floor to look these students in the eye and answer their nonsensical questions patiently—including one boy's scrutiny about the prince's high school education. I even saw Cinderella spot a little girl with her hand raised, lean down, listen as she whispered in her ear, and then run across the cafeteria-battlefield to retrieve her a napkin.
Forget the gown. Forget the crown. Forget the high school, student council, and drama department. I saw the real Cinderella and Prince Charming that day.
The real Cinderella wasn’t the one in golden gown and dainty crown, with flawless curls and makeup who stepped across the stage several evenings later. And the real Prince Charming wasn’t the one with the perfect suit, perfect smile, and perfect haircut who marched at her side.
The real Cinderella and Prince Charming were just two average high schoolers who gave up lunch and recess to put on costumes and talk to first graders.
They weren’t the only Cinderella and Prince Charming I saw that week. Cinderella took the time to answer a student’s question for the fifth time, or to find shoes for a student who needed them. Prince Charming swept up smeared napkins, slimy sporks, and radioactive materials after students who never gave him so much as a thank you. Cinderella offered to wipe down tables for a coworker when she got stuck on first and second grade lunch shift alone. Prince Charming walked his teary-eyed classmate to the nurse.
I live with, work around, go to church with, and walk past Cinderella and Prince Charming every day.
But the real question is, am I the real Cinderella or Prince Charming to someone else?
Well, that, and whether Prince Charming went to high school or not. But the jury’s still out on that particular question.
Hi, I'm Rachel! I'm the author of the posts here at ProseWorthy. Thanks for stopping by!