Hans Christian Andersen wrote the story of the Princess and the Pea about a prince searching for a true princess with whom to share his life. One appears on his doorstep on a stormy night asking for a bed. His mother, the Queen, decides to test her claim of royalty and makes her sleep on a bed of multiple mattresses and puts a pea under the bottom bed. The princess sleeps horribly and the next day the queen proclaims that only a true princess could have felt the pea through so many mattresses. The prince and princess marry and live happily ever after.
Why would a man decide to take a woman he doesn’t know as his wife on his mother’s say-so? Moreover, why would his mother tell him to take her after one bad night of sleeping on a pea? I keep turning it around in my head and the only conclusion I can draw is that the prince was a Mama’s Boy. This strange and unknowable male is the one of modern love tragedies. But what if the idea wasn’t as modern as we suppose? Maybe Hans was on to something with his story. Here’s my take:
The Tale of Mama’s Boy
I’m sure you’ve met him once or twice
Helped him, loved him and paid the price
But no matter what you do
Mama’s Boy cannot love you.
“It’s not my fault,” he’ll often say,
“But Mama does it another way.”
Nothing you do will ever compare
To Mama’s tender loving care.
His patron saint if you chance to look
Can be found in the pages of a book.
In a time long ago and far away
Once upon a time under skies of gray.
A prince returned from a restless quest
To find the princess he liked the best.
One too thin, one too fat
One too loud, one to quiet.
One was short with hair of gold.
One was tall with thoughts too bold.
One whose laughs were quite improper.
One whose shape was like a stopper.
Search he did and found he none
To compare with his perfect one.
He would say with little drama
None are like the queen, my mama
So he returned much dejected
And pushed away all he rejected
Back to mama who spoils and coddles
Her precious prince, her darling idol.
Yet their homecoming came to a halt
Pausing the balm to so much salt.
A rap at the door on a night so dreary
Stood a lass, soaked through and quite weary.
“I’m a princess,” she said, “let me in for I’m cold
And a royal family lives here I’m told.
I apologize for looking a fright
But perhaps I could stay for just a night?”
“A princess? That’s doubtful,” said Mama Queen
“But I have a test that will make her come clean!
Of course dear, please stay and we’ll find a bed
A place to lay down your most delicate head.”
Mattresses were stacked one on the other
‘ Til there were twenty altogether.
Coverlets topped the fluffy tower
All constructed in about an hour.
“And underneath a test,” Mama giggled.
With her hand she pushed and wriggled
A pea the size of a pinky nail.
“A test she will most surely fail.”
Climb she did to the top of the bed
To rest her wet and weary head.
She tossed, she turned, she curled up and stretched out
But all she could do was sit up and pout
Meanwhile, Mama dear and son
had a little one-on-one.
“My darling boy, never fear
For Mama knows and I am here.
The test she takes, I’ve taken too
and will tell us if she’s a princess true
Her face is fair, her shape is pleasing
her manners are fine when she’s not sneezing
I only want the best for you
it’s what any mother would do.”
Junior crowed, “You’re more than any other mother
like you there will never be another.”
The morning dawned, the skies were clear
Into the room Queen Mama peered
Alas she found the lass a mess
Her hair! Her clothes! She looked quite stressed.
“I hate to be a world-class bitch
but I would have slept better in a ditch
I did not sleep at all last night
Something stuck me like a stalagmite!”
The queen was pleased, the prince elated
to see the princess so deflated.
“I found my wife, my mother’s match
and of course dear Mama made the catch.”
They soon were wed, but princess found
the ring did not mean that she was crowned
in his affections. Despite their joy
Princey would always be Mama’s Boy.
So even is you’re hand picked
don’t be fooled, don’t be tricked,
Because no matter what you do
Mama’s Boy cannot love you.