“Are you ready, Sylvia?” my camera man, Stuart, asks, pulling my mind back from the daydream it was on.
“Yes, of course” I reply, plastering a smile on my face. I am not really ready to do this but it is the whole purpose for us standing here in the cool breeze in front of the large house in the trendy leafy suburb of Daydreams. What a strange name for a suburb. Maybe that is why it is so hard to keep my mind on the job. No, there is more than that to my problems. Deep inside I am tired of acting like a ditzy blonde with nothing more exciting in life than reporting on royal events and celebrity scandals. When I left school I had wanted a more meaningful career, one that gets to the bottom of a story and not all fairy floss, sweet and fluffy. That is not what is happening here though.
I look at Stuart and nod. His short brown hair is just showing from behind the camera, making it look like an alien mask. For a second I imagine the long lens is his nose but then force the image out of my mind. I can’t get distracted again. He is concentrating like the true professional he is. Boring. He has been married to the same girl, working for the same company, going through the same routine day after day, year after year. Doesn’t he ever get bored? Feel restless? I have to remember to ask him that after we finish here.
Here we go!
“Hello viewers and listeners, ABC Celebrity News Reporter Sylvia Stark here. It has often been said there are two basic stories that define the imaginary perfection of men and women.”
“For men it is Superman, the ultra powerful male figure who saves the world against evil. He is rich yet humble, powerful yet caring, extremely handsome and yet not conceited.
“For women it’s Cinderella, the lowly downtrodden young maiden who suffers the injustice of others with grace, never getting angry, always beautiful and dignified. She embodies the ideal values of good, piousness and ultimate virtue. It is a story that lives in almost every culture around the world to this day.”
Slowly I walk up the driveway towards the house a few steps then turn around again, giving enough time for Stuart to adjust his equipment to keep up and then to scan the countryside. It is pretty here. My soft pink suit with its tight short skirt fits in this formal setting perfectly. Too bad my blond curly hair has a mind of its own. One small puff of wind and POOF! It leaps for joy in all different directions. I run my hand over it to bring a semblance of order before I continue. Blah, blah, blah.
“Many listeners to this report will know how the story goes from childhood fairy tales but for those who missed out, I will give a brief overview. The story starts with Cinderella living with her widowed father, Henry Baker. Soon after the death of his wife, Susan, Henry remarries a woman named Charlotte Johansson. After a brief period of marital bliss he suddenly dies leaving Cinderella to be raised by her wicked and unjust step-mother, who dotes on her own two daughters. I have to ask if she poisoned him or not. Oh sorry, the story continues. Cinderella is forced to do all the chores, the cleaning, sweeping and the cooking. Poor girl. No wonder she was so skinny! She had to wait on the rest of the household, all the while maintaining her sweet composure. I just want to give her a hug! She is so cute! Anyway one day the Crown Prince invites all the women of the countryside to a grand ball at the palace to choose his wife. For those of us lucky enough to be given the chance to report on the event, it was truly grand! Sigh! It was so romantic! I could have danced all night. I wasn’t really old enough to be there, of course. I’m not that old, really……Sorry, back to the story. However, the step-mother does not allow Cinderella to attend. The mean old cow. While home alone and almost giving up all hope, Cinderella is visited by a Fairy Godmother who temporarily transforms her into a vision of loveliness and transports her to the ball where she captivates the handsome prince. This is another thing I have to ask. Was this true? Stuart, make a note of that please. What? Get back? Get back to the report? Oh sorry, listeners, I seem to be easily distracted today. I do love a romance story.”
I brush my hair out of my face and smile at the camera again. I’m sure the viewers will think I don’t have two brain cells left inside my head by the time I am through this performance. That was fine when I started out but I am over this charade. If the ratings were not so good I would shelve it in an instant.
“As the clock approaches midnight, she must rush home before the spell is broken and she returns to her shabby clothes. She only makes it to outside the palace walls before, poof! It all vanishes. The beautiful gown, the horses and carriage, everything gone! I always feel like crying at this point! However, as she runs out of the palace she loses one of her glass slippers. Miraculously it is the only thing that doesn’t vanish. The prince finds it and makes a lengthy search for her. Finally he comes to her house and when her foot fits the slipper and she pulls out the matching one from her pocket, the wicked step sisters and step mother are furious but it is too late. Serves them right!”
“Cinderella and the Prince marry and live happily ever after. It is a theme about Good versus Evil where Good is always rewarded after many tribulations. It triumphs over injustice! It rises above adversities! Beauty conquers the Beast! What did you say Stuart? Get on with it? Oh, sorry, doing it again.”
“Everyone should read and listen to the story of Cinderella, if for no other reason than to gain a deeper understanding of the underlying values and perceptions that shape our modern world.
“Now, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I am outside the house of the Stepmother. Cinderella has been married for many years now and the wicked old lady is home alone, abandoned by her two daughters she has doted on to the detriment of our princess. It appears all her doting hasn’t bought her daughters’ affections. Serves her right. However in the pursuit of fair reporting, I have an appointment to discuss the story of her treatment of her step daughter with her. So, I am here to do the right thing. It is time to hear her side of the story.”
I pause for a moment and watch Stuart.
“What’s up, Syl?” he asks, lowering the camera from his shoulder.
I shrug my shoulders “Nothing. I just feel I am about to make the biggest mistake of my life. I’m going to need you to help keep me on track.”
“Gladly” he says, smiling mischievously.