#2: Beauty and the Beast: Reloaded

Once upon a time (or maybe twice), there was a merchant who had three beautiful daughters. Predictably, as in all fairy tales, the two eldest sisters were ugly and despicable, and cared only for fine dresses and jewels.

The youngest was called Beauty — for obvious reasons — and had a kind and gentle heart, and was especially loved by her father. She was also intelligent; an engineering Major who graduated summa cum laude[1] from a premier university that shall remain unnamed.

One day, the merchant was going off on a long business trip, and he asked his daughters what they would like him to bring home.

“I’d like a fine, emerald necklace,” said the eldest, although she was a little bit on the plump side and really had no neck.

“And diamond earrings for me,” cried the second, although she really should have asked for a liposuction.

“What about you, Beauty? A humongous, over-priced diamond ring, perhaps?” asked the merchant.

“I just want you to have a safe trip and to come home soon,” said Beauty, “and if you can find one, I would like a white rose or maybe a purple tulip.”

The merchant set out on his business trip and months passed as he went about his business of raising funds, buying aircrafts, haggling over landing rights at airports worldwide, buying a football club or two, and negotiating for sponsorship deals.

Finally, it was time to come home. The merchant did not forget his daughters’ requests, and before returning home he bought an emerald necklace and diamond earrings at Kedai Emas Mohamad Bin Yusoff at Jalan Temenggong, Kota Bharu, Kelantan.

Unfortunately, nowhere could he find either a white rose or a purple tulip for Beauty, for it was winter and snow was falling heavily. He searched high and low, even travelling all the way to Keukenhof, but alas, to no avail.

As he was nearing home, the merchant missed his way in a snowstorm, and could not tell where he was. He was soaking wet up to his underpants and cursing the damned satnav, which was not working properly and kept pointing towards the general direction of Bukit Jelutong.

Just as he was about to give up, he saw lights ahead, and soon found himself at the door of a great castle. He was mighty relieved and hoped that perhaps the owners of the castle would offer him shelter for the night. In fact, he wouldn’t have minded paying the rate of a local bed-and-breakfast for a hot shower and a warm bed.

He went to knock on the door, but it was already open. There was not a servant in sight, so the merchant invited himself in and wandered around the castle. He walked along the dark halls, looking at the frameless, nameless portraits on the walls, until he reached a huge hall. There he found a splendid supper laid out, so he sat down, and enjoyed the feast.

In the corner of the hall was an open door, and when he looked in, he saw a bedroom that looked as if it had been prepared for him. There was even one of those little chocolate mints you sometimes find at posh hotels on his pillow.

The merchant was very tired, so he went to bed and slept soundly. In the morning a fine suit had been laid out for him to wear, and a hearty breakfast awaited him in the hall. He would have liked to thank his kind host, but still the merchant saw no one, and he was awfully disappointed not to be able to leave behind the customary twenty per cent tip.

As he walked through the garden on his way to the stable to collect his horse, he spied a beautiful rose bush covered with white flowers. Thinking of his daughter and her request, he reached out and picked a single rose.

Suddenly, he heard a thunderous roar from the bushes and a huge, ugly beast sprang out.

“Who is stealing my white rose?” he (the beast, not the merchant, obviously) growled, putting on his fiercest possible face.

The poor merchant trembled and could barely speak. “I did not mean to steal. My daughter begged me to bring her a white rose and this is the only one I have seen. You see, Beauty is my bright little girl and she was actually the first one in the family to go to university. And I don’t mean just any university either, because we are talking about proper education and she’s into all the wireless communication systems and all that, you know…”

“Dude, that’s too much information. Anyway, it is my favourite rose and anyone who touches it must die!” barked the Beast.  “But I will let you go if you promise to bring me the first thing that runs to meet you when you get home.

The merchant agreed to this rather arbitrary deal, and they both shook hands and signed all the necessary legal papers to make sure that their agreement was binding and watertight.

As he made his journey home, the merchant desperately prayed that it would be the cat that first came out to meet him, and not his beloved dog. Maybe it would be the milkman, or Mr Reidweiderlinger, the old kook who walks around town in a yellow track bottom and is rumoured to be the acid splasher at large and wanted by the police.

But as he approached the house, he was horrified that it was his little daughter Beauty who came running towards him. It certainly was a bit of a bummer, and the merchant turned so pale that when she saw her father, Beauty thought he must be very sick.

The merchant gave Beauty the white rose and took her hand. He told her what happened to him at the castle and the promise he had made to the Beast. “But I will never, never give you up Beauty,” he said “not to that beastly Beast.”

“But Father, you must keep your promise,” said Beauty, “and I don’t want you to be like those politicians who make all sorts of promises before general elections and then disappear once they are elected into office.”

The merchant was adamant that he wasn’t going back to the castle but Beauty assured him that everything was going to be fine and perhaps the Beast would not hurt her. So they prepared to return to the castle, and then they rode silently through the forest, for they were too sad to speak.

At the castle they found the front door open and a meal laid out in the hall, only this time the table was set for two. They sat down, but Beauty and her father could not eat. They both had long lost their appetite, and it didn’t help that they were served broccoli for dinner.

At nine o’clock, they heard a great roar and the Beast appeared, wearing pajamas. He spoke gently to them, saying to the merchant, “You may stay here tonight, but tomorrow you must go home. Do not worry about your daughter; she will have all she wishes for here.”

Father and daughter parted with great sadness, but Beauty tried not to think too much about the separation.

Soon, she became quite contented with her life in the castle. Her room was tastefully decorated, complete with a 42” Samsung™ flat screen TV. She also got cable with uninterrupted transmission even during a heavy rainfall,[2] broadband Internet connection that was actually high-speed, and a Nintendo Wii U, the eight-generation home video game console by Nintendo Integrated Research and Development, a company founded by Satoru Iwata.[3]

There were roses outside her window, and on a table stood a wonderful mirror. In golden letters on the mirror frame was written, “See your wishes, here enshrined; what you long for, you will find.”

At first glance, this may sound like a line from rapper 50 Cent’s new chart-topping single, but all it meant was, whenever Beauty was unhappy, she could look into the mirror and wish herself home.

The mirror would then do real-time video streaming and Beauty could see what her father and sisters were doing at home, except when they were in the toilet taking care of the most personal of personal errands.

Often, this was how Beauty spent her days amusing herself, although she also maintained a personal blog and a Facebook account with the appropriate privacy settings.[4] She also occasionally uploaded her photos so that all her 3,237 friends could ‘Like’ them if they wished.

In the evening, Beast would join Beauty for supper, and after they had eaten Beauty would sing to the Beast, often choosing to belt out the whole Aretha Franklin song catalogue in her attempt to kill him softly with her songs.

The Beast was always considerate enough to not serve any food that contains butter, which may not be safe for consumption unless certified so by the relevant authorities.

One night, Beast asked her, “Do you think I am very ugly?” Beast’s voice sounded so sad and deflated that Beauty found it hard to answer him.

Everyone knows that there is only one correct answer to this kind of question. It is a lot like being asked by your girlfriend/wife/spouse whether or not her arse look big in a new outfit. The honest answer may be “enormous” or “somewhat massive,” but all men know that “not at all, honey” is the only universally acceptable answer.

Following an uncomfortable silence,[5] Beauty – choosing her words carefully – finally said, “You have a very kind face, but let’s just say that you won’t be getting any modelling contract anytime soon.”

Tears ran down the Beast’s cheek, and Beauty felt so sorry for him.

“I do not think you are very ugly, but it’s subjective, really. After all, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder and also only skin deep and all that. It’s not about looks, and I care more about personality and character and all that good stuff,” Beauty gently explained to the Beast, mindful not to sound too much like a beauty pageant contestant.

“I do like you very much though,” she assured him.

“Then will you marry me, Beauty?” asked the Beast, in hope more than anything else.

“Oh, no! I could never marry an old beast. Let us just be friends,”[6] said Beauty. She was so shocked and horrified that she went straight to her room. She looked into the magic mirror and asked to see her family again. The mirror duly obliged and much to her shock, Beauty saw her dear father lying ill in bed.

The next day came and Beauty could neither play nor work, and could only wait until supper-time came when she could ask the Beast if he would let her go home for just one week to visit her father.

“If you go you will never come back to me just like some of them foreign maids,” said the Beast.

“I promise you I will come back in a week, dear Beast. Please let me go,” pleaded Beauty.

“Very well,” the Beast said, “but take this ring with you, and if you ever want to come back, put it on your finger when you go to bed, and in the morning you will find yourself here in your own room.”[7]

That night Beauty looked into the magic mirror and wished herself home. Still sobbing, she fell asleep on her bed tightly clutching the ring, and when she woke up, she was in her father’s house.

He wept with joy to see his daughter again, and he began to get well. One week came and went, but Beauty could not bear to leave her father. So she broke her promise to the Beast, and stayed another week, citing bad weather as the reason why she couldn’t go back as originally planned.

One night, Beauty had a dream about the Beast. She dreamed that she was back in the Beast’s garden, wandering about. As she walked past the white rose bush, she found the Beast lying motionless on the ground. She couldn’t find any drug around, so it couldn’t have been an accidental overdose.

She ran towards him and she heard him cry out, “Oh Beauty, you have broken my heart, and I shall die without you.”[8]

Beauty woke up from her dream and was overcome by a huge longing to see her dear friend Beast again. She reached out for the magic ring, slipped it onto her finger, and went to sleep. When she next awoke, she found herself back in her pretty room in the Beast’s castle, just as he had told her she would.

Remembering her dream, Beauty quickly ran out into the garden, searching for the Beast. True enough, she found the Beast next to the white rose bush, lying so stiff and quiet she couldn’t tell whether Beast was dead or was sunbathing in his Speedos. It was not a beautiful sight.

“Oh my dear Beast,” cried Beauty as she threw her arms around his neck. “Please don’t die, for I have come to take care of you, and I will marry you, for I love you with all my heart.”

She continued, “And please, try not to embarrass anyone by lying here wearing nothing but that carefully engineered piece of undergarment. Stop this atrocity, I beg you.”

She buried her head in her hands and wept ruefully.

When she stood up, she could not see the Beast, but instead, through the tears she could only see a handsome young Prince beside her.

“Who are you? And what have you done with my Beast?” asked Beauty.

“Do you not know me, Beauty?” said the Prince.

Beauty looked into his eyes and recognised someone she knew all along.

“I am the Beast you loved and to whom you gave life and happiness. A witch cast a spell over me a long time ago, making me a hideous Beast, and nothing could set me free until a beautiful girl loved me and promised to marry me. Now that the spell has been lifted, I will initiate legal action and sue the broom off the witch’s arse. We shall seek litigation cost, exemplary damages, sue for defamation, trauma, and everything else in between.”[9]

“If you really are my dear Beast, then I will marry you because I love you,” said Beauty.[10]

They got married the following summer and the wedding bash was held at Castle Leslie in Glaslough, County Monaghan, Ireland, and Beauty couldn’t have been happier.

She asked her father to come and live with her for the rest of his days in the castle. So he sold all his business interests and did precisely that and became an avid art collector in his retirement days.

The moral of the story is, wishes do come true and there is always a chance for everyone to live happily ever after.

Even if you’re ugly.

[1] Which is, of course, Latin for “without consuming too much alcohol.”
[2] Unlike some cable TV company we could mention.
[3] The name ‘Nintendo’ is commonly assumed to mean ‘leave luck to heaven’ or ‘leave one’s fortune in the hands of fate’, but this was never validated (not even by Hiroshi Yamauchi, the great-grandson of the company’s founder). So it could very well mean ‘Enjoy your smoked calamari salad’ in Japanese.
[4] Facebook’s recommended settings would likely result in her sharing more information than she would have liked (leading to identity theft, for instance) and might also invite unwelcome contact from casual acquaintances, randy stalkers and bipolar psychopaths.
[5] If this was a TV show, you would have heard the sound of crickets.
[6] Cue collective groan here. Being friend-zoned is never a pleasant experience.
[7] Teleporting technology, as perfected by the likes of Albus Dumbledore and the Star Trek crew.
[8] It does not get any more lame than this, does it?
[9] Yes, it was a long monologue.
[10] The fact that he is now a rich and handsome Prince didn’t hurt his prospects either.

#2: Beauty and the Beast: Reloaded

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