European Diary

The New Cinderella

The salient difference between Cinderella and her sisters, unfortunately for all you defenders and upholders of the Protestant work ethic out there, is not that she eats her bread in the sweat of her brow while they eat sweetmeats, try on varicolored gowns, and loaf about.  The salient difference between them is that Cinderella is pretty, and they are ugly.

Had Cinderella the opportunity, a doubter such as myself might argue, she would lead a life every stitch as idle.  While, conversely, in their heart of hearts her plain sisters would happily scrub floors if they could but have her flowing gold tresses in recompense.  In fairy tales, tresses are always that color, to indicate the recessive gene and thus, possibly, to remind the reader that progress is a double-edged sword.

To change the subject slightly, I have been reading about the bedbug epidemic in New York City.  Apparently, one can hardly stay in a Manhattan hotel without bringing the bloodsucking critters home, whereupon within days the pestilence spreads to the entire building.  Newsreels roll to reveal the frantic paterfamilias putting saucers of kerosene under the legs of the matrimonial bedstead and other scenes of similarly medieval character.

When I lived in New York 40 years ago, it was the cockroaches.  Like the new plague, that old one “accepted not the face of man,”...

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