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Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time there was a kingdom whose king hated kingdoms. 

As the oldest son, Prince Bongo knew almost from the time he could talk that he would someday become King of Cheshire. Of course this created quite a bit of sibling rivalry with his brothers John, Paul, and George as well as his sister Scarlett, even though she knew that because she was a girl she could never become the leader of the kingdom: only boys were allowed to slay dragons and declare war and hang people from the gallows and do all the other fun stuff that kings got to do. But still, it didn’t sit right with her that the best that she could hope for was to marry a prince — who might one day become king  — of some distant land where she would have to learn to speak German, or Celtic, or Pig Latin and be fed strange spicy food or vegan chicken livers or God knows what, and have to smile and wave all the time at their subjects and pretend to be having a good time even when the glass slippers on her feet were killing her.

Prince Bongo thought the whole idea of investing one man with unlimited power and claiming that his authority was a divine right given by God was a tad ridiculous. More than once he had watched as his drunken father, King Boysenberry, created some huge crisis of his own making, like ordering all the plum trees in the kingdom cut down because plum blossoms made him sneeze, only to find out in the fall that there were no plums available at any price to make his favorite dessert, plum pudding. He wound up having to make an alliance with the neighboring Kingdom of Gorgonzola, which was overflowing with plum trees, by promising his daughter Scarlett in marriage to their Prince Hubert, who spent most of his time in the basement of his parents’ castle playing Fortnite and brewing mead.

Prince Bongo formulated a secret plan that once his old man finally kicked the bucket and he became king, he would issue a proclamation abolishing kings and declaring that henceforth Cheshire would be run by a board of governors, elected by the popular vote of the people. But what good is a secret plan unless you share it with somebody? And who could he trust to keep his secret? Certainly not any of his brothers. If they found out they would immediately run and tattle to their dad and try to take away his birthright and his baseball card collection by declaring him mentally unfit or worse. But Bongo figured he could trust Scarlett, who had nothing to gain from his possible downfall and was just about to be shipped off to marry Prince Hubert and his plum trees.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Scarlet when Bongo told her. “But you have to let women vote and also be elected to the board of governors. If you can get all the wives and mothers of the kingdom behind your plan it can’t possibly fail. The truth is most men hate having to bow down and pay tribute to a king, especially one who’s enough of an idiot to cut down all the plum trees in the kingdom. They’re just too afraid to say it out loud or do anything about it. But  the women in these men’s lives can give them the encouragement they need. Or possibly a few lousy meals and a couple of nights spent sleeping on the couch with the dog. One way or another, I’m sure the people will eventually come around to your way of thinking.”

“But no woman has ever served as a governor before,” said Prince Bongo. 

“Who do you think is really responsible for running the kingdom now?” asked Scarlett. “Mom is the one who balances the King’s ledgers, and washes his underwear. She’s the one who makes sure that all the King’s horses and all the King’s men get fed. She’s the one that gets him to go back to sleep when he wakes up in the middle of the night and wants to declare war on the neighboring kingdom because they won’t turn the music down at their Friday night bacchanalia. If it weren’t for Mom our heads would have been on pikes a long time ago. And throughout the kingdom there are thousands of other women who are just as savvy as she is. Imagine if they were all able to serve together and make plans for everyone. We might become the most powerful nation on Earth! At the very least we’d wind up with clean sheets once in a while.”

And so it happened one day that King Boysenberry choked on a plum pit and Prince Bongo became the last King of Cheshire and helped transform his country into a model for democracy. Bongo now works in retail, and is thinking of starting his own line of sweater vests and custom knee socks. Scarlett rebelled against becoming the bride of Prince Hubert and was disowned by her father and cast out to live among the commoners. There, she helped found the People’s Food Co-op and is now studying to become the first High Priestess of the Church of the Nine Worlds and a Deli. Brothers John, Paul, and George work at the car wash and have a little band that plays in the local pubs on weekends. They are desperately looking for a drummer. And Queen Priscilla has been recognized for her true leadership skills and is currently in her second term as the Chairwoman of the Board of Governors. 

— The End —

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