I was visiting with the family, and one of my young cousins was watching TV while lying on two mattresses stacked on top of each other (they’re moving stuff around). I made some joke about the fairy tale of the Princess and the Pea. He looked at me with a blank face. I asked him if he had heard the fairy tale before, and he hadn’t. So I proceeded to tell him the tale (from what I could remember as a kid).
For anyone who has never heard it, a Prince has a hard time finding his Princess to marry. He can’t find a woman who is definitely a Princess. Randomly, a young woman seeks shelter in the castle with the Prince. She says she’s a Princess. The Prince’s mother decides enough is enough and she’s going to find out if the woman really is a Princess. So she puts a pea in the bed the supposed Princess is supposed to sleep in for the night. They cover the pea with lots of mattresses (thus the joke I made to my cousin). In the morning the supposed Princess mentions that she couldn’t sleep all night because her bed was so uncomfortable. The Prince and his mother rejoice because only a real Princess would have the delicateness to feel a pea through all of those mattresses (holes in my memory were filled in by Wikipedia).
While I was telling him this story, it occurred to me how offended many people would be by the overall message of the story. I interrupted my tale to inform the young lad that the message was not one that people would probably want to share these days. In fact, there is probably a reason that it is no longer a popular fairy tale. My explanation was laced with words like ‘misogynistic.’
He gave me a confused look and went back to watching TV. Well played, kid. Well played.