CINDEROULA, a short story written by Stathis Kalogeropoulos and re-interpreted by Dena Kouremetis
Back in the 1950′s there was a beautiful, sun-kissed land where the waters stayed crystal blue all year long, the people laughed and enjoyed their families and life was good. It was a true beauty – just like Cinderoula, who had a ton of potential but had not yet found her true love. Just as in the fairy tale, she was very poor but had a devious stepmother (this stepmother can’t win a European soccer cup to save her life…)
In this version of the story, Cinderoula has all kinds of potential grooms knocking at her door.
Bill was a foreigner, who had courted her from across the sea. He lived in a place where shoes were just not a big deal – especially women’s shoes. Most of the girls back home wore clunky, ugly shoes, so it was only logical that when Bill saw Cinderoula in her ball gown and sexy high heels, he fell for her in a heartbeat. Soon they were engaged.
Despite the distance from home and the shortage of good movies in Cinderoula’s home town, he decided he would go to live in her house after they were married, . Because of the love Bill had for his new wife, he wanted to provide her with everything. He had pretty tacky tastes, though, and instead of dressing her in a few good pieces from Gucci or Yves St. Laurent, he showered her with clothes from a Marshall’s superstore. Most of these clothes ended up being worn by Cinderoula’s relatives, because she really didn’t care much about how she looked after she had hooked a husband anyway. (Those same relatives now have bank accounts in Switzerland.)
Cinderoula had convinced herself that theirs was the greatest romance on earth. She lived in a fantasy world (okay… this IS a fairytale) and stopped paying attention to a lot of things that used to be important to her. Some years passed and at one point she discovered that Bill, like too many other husbands, had an eye for the ladies – especially the curvy neighbor lady. ‘Roula tied to ignore it at first, but as time went by the affair became obvious.
It wouldn’t be long before Bill abandoned his wife and kids and moved in with the neighbor. It was awkward, because he and Cinderoula would bump into one another in the mornings, when Bill would haul out the trash from his new love nest. Out of guilt, Bill would pretend he cared. He would ask about the kids, trying to determine if the alimony he was paying was sufficient, etc.
The kids grew up. Some left the country and became restaurant owners in a new land, some stayed behind and became policemen, and others stayed behind with their mom, working here and there doing odd jobs around the house. Only a few went into business for themselves, but to their dismay, their mother and brothers labeled them tax evaders. Cinderoula had some political clout by then, so she made sure taxes were raised periodically on them to address this problem.
One day some decades later, the bank calls Cinderoula. “Sorry ma’am — but our records show you owe us 360 billion Euros. We have to cancel your credit cards.”
Terrified, Cinderoula goes to her soi (the Greek word for extended family) which by that time was bigger and stronger and had names like Jean, Frantz, William and Pedro. The soi wanted to help out. “We will lend you the money, Cinderoula” they say. “After all, that’s what families are for. But the deal is that you HAVE to put your kids to work. Our kids aren’t too proud to work so yours shouldn’t be, either. For cryin’ out loud, your house isn’t even that BIG that you should need all this help . .”
Cinderoula was rather taken aback. She was used to having what she wanted by now and ‘sacrifice’ was no longer a word in her vocabulary.
Her soi continue, “We understand since you started out as a maid, you feel a genuine compassion toward maids, but you certainly don’t need so many of them. Come to our houses and you’ll see how we keep them maintained with only about a third of the number of maids you have. To top that off, we are wealthier than you are!”
“Why is this happening to me?” Cinderoula asks. The soi reply, “It’s Bill’s fault. He started it. The guy is a womanizer. It’s not just your neighbor he was messing around with. Half the world knows Bill’s reputation. He has wives and kids all over the place and when he couldn’t keep up with all of it, he borrowed a skata-load of money and almost made the rest of us go bust because he couldn’t repay his loans.”
“Geez, thanks a LOT, Bill,” Cinderoula rhetorically says under her breath, exasperated. “What do I do now?”
Of course, you’d think all this would teach Cinderoula a HUGE lesson. You’d think she would get busy learning how to adapt in order to turn things around. She did get busy but not in a way that you would expect.
Cinderoula bought a newspaper and scanned it to find the next charity gala, where she could put on her ball gown and high-heeled pumps (she got them out of mothballs). Perhaps with a few alterations here and there, she could look fetching once again and perhaps she would be attractive enough to meet Bill #2.
“Hey, baby. I’ve still got it,” she said as she looked in the mirror (this was not a magic mirror that talked back, unfortunately). “Housewives are hot these days,” she convinced herself.
So she went to the first charity gala, thinking she would be able to snap her fingers and find another husband. To her dismay, however, the shoes she wore 50+ years ago weren’t making any heads turn. And her gown was totally out of style. The men there not only knew her as a ‘has been’, but they weren’t prizes themselves. By now, all the potential Bills were named Vladimir and smelled like vodka.
“What’s a girl to do?” says Cinderoula. “This is a lost cause.”
So Cinderoula returns to the house, turns on her flat screen TV and settles in to watch her favorite soap opera.
And everyone lives happily ever after.
Stay tuned for the launch of Kouremetis’ new eBook, Climbing St. Friday: A Coming-Of-Age Story, soon to be released through SmashWords.com and available for Kindle, iPad and most other formats.