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Cindy Ella

Once upon a time, in New York City, la grande mela, there was a teen-age

girl named Cindy Ella whose widowed father had, after a humble beginning, made a great

success in the email spam address business. He

was a sharp man with few friends and the joy of his life was his

daughter. Cindy was beautiful, knew most of the consonants most of

the time, was capable of short interchanges, and bore the marks of her

father's barbed nature and his giving and generous love.

It came to pass that the father met, at a special-invitation party at

the Metropolitan Museum of Art, an elegant lady with two older

daughters and somewhat reduced circumstances. They married and the

combined family moved to a Duchy in Europe where the natives sometimes

wore costumes and the taxes were equally charming. The new step-mother

and her daughters received appointments at the National University. The

mother was a Professor of Art History, and her not so beautiful, but

bright and amiable daughters were, in this order, specialists in

Cognitive Science and in Animal Behavior. They were witty, kind

hearted, and often had long conversations using adjectival phrases,

sophisticated metaphors, and some trophes that were remarkably obscure.

The menage installed itself in an ancient castle rented from an

Australian newspaperman who also had tax issues. It had not enough

staff and much of the original plumbing, for this reason not quite

enough water, unless one counted a muddy mosquito swamp that had been,
in prouder and more hostile times, a moat.

The stepmother and Cindy's step-sisters worked hard at the University.

The father worked hard avoiding taxes and at a new found interest in

collecting 17th century Mannerist Slavic paintings that were not

difficult to find. Local dealers assured him they had incalculable

market potential.

"Could be worth anything," one said.

“Who knows in 5 years?" asked another.

Cindy was having a difficult time adjusting. She spent much time in her

room, trying new lipstick colors and watching for pimples. She so tried

the patience of the local International School, that even the promise

of a new soccer stadium could not keep her enrolled. The stepmother, to

correct her appalling laziness, and instill some idea of accountability, assigned her some light

household tasks. Since general provisioning was done by a servant at a mega-supermarket upon

whose board sat the heir apparent to the crown, Edmund Hapsburg-Hoehellenzern-Valois-Hanover-

Savoy-Rothschild, Cindy was charged with the purchase of the wonderful local cheeses (mostly

sheepmilk) and sausages the town market offered on Tuesdays. She was also assigned the task of

collecting ashes for the rose garden from the baronial fireplace. The stepmother used the ashes to

sweeten the soil around her special teas.

"Oh, Daddy, it's so dreadful here," complained the beautiful Cindy to her father.

"What's so bad?" he asked, "taxes are nothing."

"It's triple dullsville," she said.

"Go to Paris for the weekend."


"Again. I've been to Paris. Paris is superdull."

"Improve your mind," he said, "collect something."

"My mind doesn't need improving," she said.

Her father did not press the issue.

Cindy complained so poignantly of the burden of her duties at the

castle that the father spoke to the stepmother about the wisdom, after

all, of assigning Cindy household tasks.

"But darling," said the stepmother, "she does nothing."

"But she gets all black from the ashes."

"Because she leaves the flue open. "

"A regular Cinderella," the father said.

"Not exactly," said the Art History Professor who had her own views on the growing Mannerist

collection.

The father offered his daughter dancing lessons and a beautiful horse

and membership in the local Polo club and a Masaratti on the day she

was old enough to drive. But nothing improved the humor of the girt

except luring a visiting polo player to her bedroom and calling,

"rape." The magistrate would have locked the young man away until well

past the end of the Polo season. But happily, he owed the accused's

father a good sum because of expenses incurred in a relationship with

a young lady who was, in that country, illegal.


Finally, the Social Season opened. The Young Heir returned from New

York, the Grand Duke and Duchess returned from Tampa, and all the court

threw itself into the consolations of Old World culture. There were to

be balls and galas; concerts performed by non-union musicians; and

ballets performed by ballerinas who had been unsuccessful candidates

for the finest companies in the world.

The Palace was decorated with banners, the market place strewn with

lights and flowers, the First Ball was announced.

"Oh, my God," the stepmother said one morning at breakfast, looking at

an engraved elaborate card bearing the goat and zebra heraldry of the

Reigning Family, "The Academy Ball. What is it?"

"Royalty's night with the Herr Doctor Professors. Unavoidable, I'm

told," said Cognitive Science resignedly.

"Absolutely?"

"You're not serious," sighed Animal Behavior.

"A Ball," Cindy trilled over her eggs, "how wonderful, when is it?"
"Tuesday a week," the stepmother said.

"I'll have to get to New York for a dress," Cindy said.

"But its not for you, lucky girl," the stepmother said.

There was an echoing clink of dropping fork as Cindy stared at the

woman, her eyes narrowed and ominous. Cindy turned to her father in

frenzied appeal.

"But why can't she go?" the father asked in a voice that had intimidated

anti-spam reformers in the past.

"But dear, the invitation is for Academy members brain-dead at least 50

years.

"Must be a way around that," said the father.

"Cindy might qualify on a technical point," offered Animal Behavior.

"Won't all the Smart People be there?" Cindy asked.

"No," said Cognition, "the smart people will find a way not to go."
"But, oh, daddy, dancing and champagne and caviar."

"For this lot more likely punch and low fat foods," said Animal

Behavior.

"And the Prince," Cindy said, turning again to her father.

But father had lost interest and was surrounding a kipper. Cindy

shrugged. She would have a dress and shoes made locally. Just in case.

Something might well come up.

II

The big night came. The father sat in the study sipping Bourbon, wearing

a pre-nuptial red dinner jacket and paisley pants which had led his

wife to think on her blessings and the difficulties of times before the

marriage. She and her daughters had not prepared much for the event.

The stepmother had seen a coiffeur who had advised what should be worn

to the Academy Ball in a small but under-taxed and landlocked country.

" More Fifth Avenue than Soho," summarized the mother to her daughters.
Cindy was put to use. In a frenzy of last minute concern, student papers

and research put aside, the ladies asked her fashion advice, for the

loan of stockings, and for help with unwilling zippers. Although she

was thanked profusely for each service and congratulated on being young

and beautiful enough not to go the Academy Ball, she took the

preparations very badly. She was in her foulest mood as the unwilling

celebrants walked out the door. The Masaratti was in the shop. She had

no way of going to the party or to places in town which, although

watched carefully by the police, amused her.

"Damn it," she cried to the high ceiling and tapestry of the Great Hall

and ran, sobbing to her room. She lay on her bed dreaming of the Ball

and of the Princeling, or of the general concept of Princelings. The

opportunity was too great too miss. The gardener had a Volkswagen. The

gardener was a negotiable man. Smiling, humming "Isn't it Romantic?"

she dressed and chose her spectacular hand made velvet (verre is

velvet) shoes.

"Left directional don't work," the gardener said, putting a 10,000

schilling note in his pocket.

"Never use them," Cindy said.


"Must be back by midnight," said the gardener.

"Why?"

"Restriction on the license at your age. Take it seriously in my car."

"Damn," Cindy said again.

When she arrived, the Academy was ablaze with light and ashake with

music. Limousines rolled to the entrance discharging gentlemen with

white heads and large medals with ladies baggy, perhaps, but coutured

to the limit. Cindy parked the Volkswagen down the block and walked to

the Academy. She was not questioned at the door. The Footmen assumed,

rightly except in this instance, that no one not obliged would be

entering the Academy that night. She was in a ballroom complete with

mirrors, crystal chandeliers, rosewood floors and on one end a raised

platform for their Highnesses. Except for an odd smell of moth balls,

it was a setting from a story ballet. It was just as she had dreamed

it. She saw her step-sisters talking with a young man. He was golden

haired, slender, tall and entirely without expression. Cindy's young

heart told her that this was the Princeling.

"So you were in Delos," said Animal Behavior to the Princeling.


"Djes."

"Did you enjoy it?"

"Too many old stones."

Both sisters winced. They both thought his uniform was a costume from a

Lehar operetta they had seen in New York. There was a silence while

they sought an alternate line of conversation with the Heir. One

thought of something personal, "what is that cologne?" The other

thought of something sporty, along the lines of, "what is your favorite

game?"

The Princeling, smiling graciously and wisely, excused himself and

walked disinterestedly around the room. The two sisters looked to the

ceiling and went to seek the comfort of the punch. Cindy tracked the

Princeling with the precision of a reconnaissance satellite and set on

a course that guaranteed an intersection.

"Hello," said the Princeling, interested in the moral philosophy of a person

whose dress stopped about 6 centimeters above her belly button and

whose eyes were shining and vacant.


"Hello," said Cindy, aware she was wearing the lowest cut gown ever in

the records of the Academy Ball.

"Deadly party," said the Princeling.

"They made me come," said Cindy.

They danced together, speaking no more. They had already revealed the

depths of their souls. Cindy and the Princeling were in each other's

arms, destiny about them, their passion pre-ordained, their pelvises in

intermittent contact. They were of one heart and mind. Like Cindy, the

Prince had had limited success with his academic career. There was a

successful participation in a marijuana experiment at Princeton and a

not bad session with Para-psychologists at Duke, but all the rest was

not at all distinguished.

The young couple floated enraptured, inscribing wider and wider circles

until they had forced the tentative, older, weaker couples from the

floor. These lined the sides, glad to be safe, and formed an audience

to the first moments of true love. Cindy's family did not recognize

her. Her father, drunk and bored, was not watching closely. The charm

of a young prince waltzing with a mystery beauty was not a collectable


and consequently of no artistic importance. Her sisters had found a

visiting Physicist from Bologna who was trying to explain to them about

'strings.' The stepmother was having a truly good time chatting with an

expert in Byzantine Art with a specialty in Bulgarian Ikons.

The clock began to strike midnight.

"Oh, oh," Cindy muttered. She ran from the Princeling's arms out of the

Academy and down the block to the car.

"Stay," the Princeling called after her, "you won't turn into a

pumpkin."

Cindy did not hear these bon mots as she ran down the street, losing her

fashionable, expensive, and uncomfortable shoe. The Princeling came

out. He took no notice of the old Volkswagen that coughed down the

block, stripping its gears and not using its directional signal at the

corner. But he saw the shoe in the street. He walked to it, picked it

up and pressed it to his heart. Around him all nature seemed silently

observing the gentleness of his heart.

"I have found my own true love," the Princeling said next morning over

eggs.
"Is she from a great family?" the wise Grand Duchess said to her son.

The Duke listened carefully. He had long wondered why his passive

subjects, with this Heir in sight, did not stage a violent revolution

and had considered raising taxes sharply to foment one, it being his

view that all the revolutions he had ever heard about were ultimately

about taxes,

"I met her last night at the Academic Ball,"

The Duchess misunderstood, but anyway did the right thing,

"I only asked," she said, "that you live out of the country."

The Duchy was searched high and low for the beauty who had lost her shoe

but won the Princeling's heart. He went to a Council meeting with the

shoe, put it on the table and gazed at it in rapture through the

session. The Prime Minister was astonished at this unprecedented focus

of attention.

The Heir appeared on the Six O'clock News. He read a poem by Browning

from cue cards, held up the shoe and beseeched his lost love to call
one of three numbers that flashed upon the screen. Cindy called the

first number. The Princeling, the Cabinet, and a good portion of a

very bored diplomatic community arrived at Cindy's home. The lovers

were again in each others arms, fondling so affectionately that French

Ambassador blushed deeply.

Cindy's father, his attention now caught, was proud of his sweet

daughter.

"I always knew you would turn up well in the end," he said.

"I denounce the throne for the woman I love," announced the Princeling

from the balcony of the Palace. The applause and cheering of the

populace, if ambiguous, was thunderous and the music and cannon

exploded with apparent joy.

The young couple lived happily in Monaco on an allowance of public funds

voted by the King's Council, causing a modest raise in the taxes. The

father invested most of his remaining funds in Ottoman manuscripts

that turned out, on his death, to be written on paper with recent

watermarks. The Slavic paintings did turn out to be worth something,

but not quite as much as the cost of removing them from the castle. The

stepmother returned to New York without them. Both daughters stayed,


one marrying a Senior Professor of Philology, and the other a plumber

specializing in renewing the plumbing of old castles.

When the Duke died ,a Republic was established in a bloodless revolution

lasting about 90 minutes in which the Chief of Police hurt his toe. The

first act of Parlement was to reduce taxes and revoke the allowance of

Cindy and her Princeling. They were never heard from again. But it is

assumed, to the extent either was capable of an actual abstract

emotion, and given the dividends from the super-market, that they lived

happily ever after.