Monday, April 10, 2017

Before You Meet Prince Charming: Chapter Five - Part Two

In the last post on this chapter, the Princess was still worried - and pining a tad - over Sir Eloquence.  The Queen told her to get over him.  The Princess voiced her concerns about how the People viewed her obsessive purity with a surprising amount of insight; the Queen declared that the Princess was wrong since the silent majority of people supported her...silently.

Now, at this point, the book has been pretty clear that the Princess doesn't really have any friends among the locals.  The Princess has mentioned that she worries about what everyone else thinks of her; her parents and the narrator insist that the Princess really doesn't give a shit about what anyone else thinks - but either way there has been no sign that the Princess has real friends who she sees on a regular basis.

Oh, wait.

Here's Maiden Flirtelia - a young woman who appears out of nowhere and is apparently unobjectionable enough that the Queen is fine with the Princess hanging out with her unaccompanied and unchaperoned while also being worldly enough that she gets the virtue signal name of "Flirt".
"Maiden Flirtelia and the princess spent the next few hours looking around Market Street, visiting the tapestry shop, and picking up some pastries at the bakery. They then sat down at Fountain Circle to talk." (pg. 87)
  • ROTFL.  This is a great example of how to insert anachronisms into writing.  
    • Step One: Write out a modern activity that your readers will identify with.  Example: "Goofus and Gallant spent the next few hours looking around the mall, visiting the poster kiosk, and grabbing a bite to eat at the food court.  They then sat down at the water feature to talk."
    • Step Two: Change the modern words into words that may have existed during the time period and voila!  You get something that makes NO DAMN SENSE.
  • I'd forgive a lot if 1) the rush of some livestock going to the fountain knocks both of the girls into the fountain and 2)Maiden Flirtelia has a deathbed conversion to purity while dying of typhoid fever contracted from her unplanned baptism.   (After all, if you're going to write an overly preachy morality story, go for the overly sentimental death scene.  That's a standard trope that is sadly missing from SAHD writings.)
Maiden Flirtelia and the Princess chat.
""I must tell you, I had the most wonderful time last evening at the Summer Ball," Maiden Flirtelia chattered excitedly. "You should have been there to meet all the enchanting young men. I had such a romantic time with Sir Striking."

"Flirtelia, thou hasn't changed at all! Can you think of anything else besides men, romance, parties, and weddings?"

"And you have not changed at all either," Maiden Flirtelia replied. "Will you ever grow up and start enjoying your life? In fact, I heard Sir Eloquence was seeking your hand. I cannot believe you would not even take time to consider him. Dost thou not know that he is one of the most popular knights?"

"Why take time for something one already knows will come to nothing, especially when it is neither wise nor safe?" asked the princess."

  • Being a princess and being kept isolated from all other people were the two reasons I thought the Princess had no friends.  I've added a third reason to my list: the Princess is a horrible conversationalist!  
    • Maiden Flirtelia starts off the conversation by clearly signaling that she wants to tell the Princess about the fun she had at the Summer Ball last night.  The Princess responds by chiding her friend for being flighty.  
    • Maiden Flirtelia didn't say anything about weddings so the Princess is not listening very well either.
    • The net outcome: the conversation pivots from Flirtelia's choice of topic to talking about the Princess and her life choices.  While this is somewhat forgivable as a plot device, it does not bode well for the socialization skills of the Princess.
  • Good for Maiden Flirtelia not being cowed by the Princess' nagging.  This does bring up a tangential point.  If Maiden Flirtelia and the Princess are friends - or even just friendly - why didn't the Princess get background information on Sir Eloquence from Maiden Flirtelia?  Sure, Flirtelia has a worldly bias - but a young adult like the Princess should be able to read between the lines to figure out if Sir Eloquence was a decent catch or a person to be avoided.
  • Why is the Princess compelled to talk like she's the Sphinx?  She could have simply said "We didn't click" and moved on.
  • Although Ms. Mally is unaware of them, there are actual rules for when to use "thou" and when to use "you" and the rules are not hard to follow.
    • In Old English, "thou" was used for second person singular and "ye" was used for second person plural.  In Modern English, we use "you" for both or "you" for second person singular and "you all, ya'll, yintz, you guys, etc." for second person plural.
      • Ironically, using this rule would have made writing the book very simple!  I haven't found a single second person plural in the book so every "you" should be replaced with "thou".  
    • In Early Modern English, "thou" was second person informal while "you" was second person formal.  This started because of the influence of the French court where "tu" was used for informal settings and "vous" was used for formal settings. 
        • This still exists in modern Iberian Spanish with "tu"  and "vosotros" as well; Latin American Spanish dropped the second person plural tense and replaced it with "usted/ustedes" or third person singular and plural for formal usage.
      • In the most sensible choice for this conversation, the Princess would use the informal tense of "thou" to address Flirtelia since Flirtelia is the Princess' social inferior.  Flirtelia would use the formal tense of "you" to address the Princess.  
      • In another more questionable choice, both young women could use "thou" throughout to denote an intimate relationship. 
      • Both women could use "you", but that would imply that they were strangers who had no way of determining relative social class.
    • There's not a point where having two characters switching randomly between "thou" and "you" makes any sense.
"Well then, you could have at least suggested that he get to know me!" declared Flirtelia.

"You may suggest it to him yourself if you like," said the princess with a smile. "You seem to have ample opportunities to converse with the knights."

"Are thou saying that thou hast no opportunities? You really should come to one of the dances. I'll arrange a match for you."

"No really, Flirtelia, you just do not understand, do you?"

"Understand? " asked Maiden Flirtelia. "No, I do not understand! Why would you say no to such a choice knight? Why would you miss out on so many fun and harmless activities? No, I do not understand at all!"(pg. 88)
  • The Princess' response to Flirtelia's joke that the Princess should have sent Sir Eloquence towards Flirtelia is condescending at best and passive-aggressive at worst.  Apparently, being CP/QF means never learning how to demur gracefully.
  • Flirtelia is a surprisingly good approximation of how some non-CP people interact with SAHDs.  Flirtella is being social and friendly towards the Princess in spite of the Princess' foibles.  She's even offering to smooth the Princess' transition into interacting with young men which is a sweet gesture considering the Princess has been self-absorbed and pedantic during this interaction.  (Yes, viewing every other human being solely as a potential convert to Emo-Pure is self-absorption.)
Logically, Ms. Mally has built up to the point where the Princess gives a whole-hearted, passionate and ringing endorsement of emotional purity.  Maiden Flirtelia has laid the groundwork; she's even stated that she doesn't understand why the Princess lives like she does and Flirtelia seems at least open to listening to the Princess' explanation.

Instead, the conversation stops dead when some horsemen ride into town and give a proclamation.  The Princess sees Sir Valiant who is heroic, loyal to the King, young and handsome.  The Princess doesn't interact with him in any way.  Without any explanation, the scene jumps to the Princess and Queen walking home while the Princess is distracted because she's having a full-on crush on Sir Valiant. 
  • The deus ex machina moment of Prince Charming .. *rolls eyes* I mean ...Sir Valiant saving the Princess from having to explain Emo Pure to her friend is telling.  Ms. Mally can't coherently describe her protagonist's motives!  That moment undermines the book's entire premise that the Princess is quietly showing the People how to live in emotional purity.  Instead, she comes across as socially immature (who wanders off without saying goodbye to a friend?) and incapable of explaining her most deeply held views.
  • Having a crush is normal and pretty awesome.  There is a bit of an issue here, though, because the Princess is now "nearly 18 years old" according to the Alligator.   Once a person gets old enough to get married, it's a good idea to channel some of the emotional energy used on crushes into real relationships with the good, bad and ugly that comes in all human interactions instead of the flawlessness of an imaginary partner.
  • I'm curious what Sir Valiant's flaws are.  Sir Eloquent was one big mess of flaws; he was affectionate toward the Princess, didn't want to jump through the hoops placed by the King and was a braggart.  Sir Valiant is one big mass of virtues so far - and let's be honest here - a person who has no flaws at all is as much of a red flag in a relationship as someone who is a hot mess.
  • Loyalty is a good virtue normally, but a scary red flag in CP land.  After all, repaying the kind acts of a follower by giving him your daughter's hand in marriage sounds great for the men involved - but isn't always in the best interest of the daughter.
The chapter ends with the Princess back at the castle yammering with the Alligator and daydreaming...again. 


  1. So... did I miss the part where the presence of a talking alligator is explained? Please tell me it´s not a a "wonderfully clever" pun, where an alligator is a reptile like a snake and starts with the same letters as "allegory".

    1. The Alligator just sorta shows up in the first chapter. I see the Alligator as the personification of the Princess' secret desires to break free of Emo-Pure.

      I might be a bit overly generous in calling this an allegory - but I think that's what the author was trying to accomplish.

      I would enjoy this book a lot more if the Alligator was an attempt at a clever pun like the Botkin Sisters did with limited success.

      Near as I can tell the thought process went like this: "Huh. I need something like a snake that lives near a castle. Castles have moats. A moat has water so there could be an alligator in it!"