Once upon a time, there was a rich gentleman who lived in a huge house. Having made his fortune as a government-linked contractor (GLC), the gentleman was already in semi-retirement when suddenly his wife died from an artichoke overdose.
He was obviously very sad after the demise of his wife. While the late wife was not exactly a looker, she was very useful around the house, and being a bit of a male chauvinist himself, the rich gentlemen loved her dearly, for the old cove liked being mothered.
What was there not to like, he would often argue. His shirts were always nicely starched, his trousers neatly pressed and the house smartly scrubbed. He never had to call pizza delivery since there was always half a turkey waiting for him when he came back home after a hard, long day at work.
After one too many lonely nights, the rich gentleman decided to marry again, so his lovely daughter, Cinderella, could have a mother to care for her. After a few months of frequenting the hot spots about town and getting back into the whole dating game, a candidate was identified whom he thought would be perfect for him.
Unfortunately, his choice proved to be a monumental cock-up, as he chose a proud and selfish woman with two daughters just like herself. She did not reveal her true character until after the wedding. Once they are officially married, she ordered Cinderella to work in the kitchen and live with the servants, while she and her daughters enjoyed a life of splendour.
When Cinderella finished her work, she would sit in her little servant’s room and try to catch some sleep after a long day of unpaid slavery. Her clothes were dirty and ragged, but she was far prettier than her sisters in all their designer clothes.
One day an invitation arrived from the palace. The King was giving — and presumably, having — a ball in commemoration of his son’s birthday. The evil sisters could not have been happier. They talked of nothing but what they would wear, and ordered beautiful dresses, complete with Manolo Blahnik shoes and top-of-the-range Rebecca Minkoff handbags from the best stores in the land.
Cinderella would have loved to go to the ball as well, but the wicked sisters teased her mercilessly saying that there was no way that their Mum would allow Cinderella to dress up in fine clothes, ride in a carriage to the palace, and dance with rich men, let alone the Prince himself.
This, of course, did not help with Cinderella’s already low self-esteem. Experts at the time agreed that if the bullying persisted, there was a good chance that, despite her undoubted beauty, Cinderella would grow up to be an awkward girl with no self-confidence and self-regard.
In short, Cinderella could grow up to become a supermodel.
It was widely known that the Prince was in search of a wife, and Cinderella’s mean stepmother had high hopes for her daughters, despite them being ugly as sin and having the intelligence of a flock of sheep.
Soon, the great day arrived and the air was pregnant with excitement and sense of anticipation. Cinderella was kept busy all day — dressing her sisters, polishing their shoes, combing their hair, trimming their nose hair and shaving their armpits. When the splendid carriage arrived to take them to the ball, Cinderella dutifully arranged their gowns so they (the gowns, not the sisters) would not crumple on the journey.
When they were out of sight, Cinderella sat down alone to listen to her iPod, and began to cry. All of a sudden, her Fairy Godmother appeared and said, “Why are you crying?”
“I wish I could go to the ball,” sobbed Cinderella. “But I have no new dress, no shoes, and no public transportation to go to the King’s castle.”
“Well, then, I guess that is something that we shall have to remedy. Now, be a good girl and do as I say. And you shall go to the ball!” said the Fairy Godmother, grinning and displaying her extra-white teeth.
“What’s the catch?” asked Cinderella, giving the Fairy Godmother a suspicious look.
“There’s no catch, you daft git!” retorted the Fairy Godmother, slightly annoyed. “Run along to the garden and bring me a pumpkin.”
Cinderella found the biggest and best pumpkin in the garden. She brought it to her Fairy Godmother who touched it with her magic wand. With one deft, Harry Potteresque flick of her hand, the pumpkin instantly became a beautiful golden coach.
“Now bring me the mouse-trap, and open it very carefully,” said the Fairy Godmother.
Six mice ran out of the trap, and as the Fairy Godmother, wearing a pair of gloves and a surgical mask, touched them with her wand, they turned into fine white horses.
Cinderella was then sent to find a hamster, which the Fairy Godmother later turned into an affable – if slightly goofy – postilion. Six lizards were turned into smart footmen with no personality.
“Well now, will that be fit to carry a lady to the ball?” asked the Fairy Godmother, as she and Cinderella looked at the gleaming, turbo-charged, Lotus-tuned golden carriage.
“Oh yes. It’s wonderful,” replied Cinderella. “but…”
“Aha! Don’t worry my child. I know from the hesitation in your voice that you are wondering what you’re going to wear, are you not? Of course we wouldn’t want you to look like Lindsay Lohan at a Hollywood red carpet event, would we? Hmm… let’s see, what would suit you?”
With these words, she waved her wand over Cinderella and in an instant her rags became the most stunning dress you can imagine. Not quite Elizabeth Hurley in that gorgeous black Versace number that she wore to the 1994 premiere of “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, but Cinderella looked resplendent nonetheless. She was wearing the most costly jewels in the world, and on her feet was a beautiful pair of glass slippers.
“Off you go now,” said the Fairy Godmother, “but don’t forget that you must leave the palace before the clock strikes twelve, or all this magic will be undone.”
“You mean, this whole thing won’t last forever?” asked Cinderella, trying to comprehend the situation.
“Honey, of course it’s not going to last forever,” explained the Fairy Godmother calmly. “Even the oil price rally cannot last forever. It’s just not sustainable. If any investment banker tells you otherwise, it’s absolutely bollocks.”
Cinderella promised to obey, and set off in her golden carriage and arrived at the castle fifteen minutes later. When she appeared in the ballroom, everyone fell silent and the music and the dancing stopped, for she was the most beautiful young woman in the room.
Every woman looked at her with envy, while the men were on their knees trying to retrieve their tongues and jaws from the ballroom floor.
The young Prince took her hand and led her out to dance with him, as techno and rap songs playing loudly on the ballroom tannoys. The Prince danced with only Cinderella and no one else the whole evening.
When they sat down for the feast, the Prince was so completely besotted and kept looking at Cinderella the whole time that it was becoming a little creepy. He did not eat a thing, and he wasn’t even on an Atkins diet!
The dancing continued immediately after supper. Cinderella was so happy that she danced every dance and did not even feel tired. But there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and while she was really in the groove, she heard a clock striking the hour.
“It must be eleven o’clock. It cannot possibly be midnight yet,” she said to herself, mindful of her Fairy Godmother’s warning.
As she turned and saw the clock, Cinderella got the shock of her life. She gasped with fright when she realised that it was already midnight, and ran as fast as she could from the ballroom.
The Prince followed in hot pursuit to ask for Cinderella’s mobile phone number as the clock continued to chime, but failed and pulled his hamstring. Clearly, he had not been frequenting the gym the past couple of months.
As Cinderella ran through the door and down the steps towards the golden carriage, she lost one of her glass slippers, and at the very moment that the Prince bent down to retrieve it, the clock struck twelve.
As he stood up, the Prince did not see his beautiful dancing partner, and the coach and horses had completely vanished. There were only a bunch of car jockeys chatting and smoking next to a fleet of new Toyota Camrys near the water fountain.
What the Prince could not see was Cinderella hiding behind a hedge in the garden in her ragged, dirty clothes clutching a pumpkin. The mice, the hamster and the lizards had scurried away. When she was certain that the Prince had gone, Cinderella made her way on foot as fast as she could.
The music and dancing would have continued until morning, but the Prince was in no mood for celebration, and all the guests were sent away. He took the glass slipper to the King, who promptly asked, “Have you got a shoe fetish now, son?”
“Don’t be silly, dad. I am going to find the groovy chick whose foot this slipper fits, and when I have found her, she will be my bride,” explained the Prince.
“Ah, of course. That’s a relief, it truly is,” said the King.
A search team was dispatched from the castle together with the Prince, and they went looking for the Gadis Misteri for days across town.
Everyone was following the team from house to house that it was beginning to look like a by-election campaign. There were not only local girls but also girls from neighbouring towns who didn’t even attend the ball who came to try their luck anyway, crowding the place as if it was an Isetan pre-sale at Suria KLCC.
Cinderella’s stepmother grew very excited when the Prince arrived at their house. “It’s only a shoe,” she said to her daughters “so one of you should just shove your foot into it and bag the Prince.”
But deep inside, the stepmother knew that it was not just a shoe. It was her very own passport to untold riches and an early retirement without having to rely on her EPF money.
The ugly sisters tried in vain to squeeze their big, clumsy feet into the tiny, dainty glass shoes, to no avail. The Prince was becoming increasingly desperate and cheesed off.
“Are there any other young women in this house or should we call it a day?” asked the Prince. “I can certainly use a pint or two at the pub.”
“Well, only Cinderella,” said the stepmother, opening her big mouth “but she works in the kitchen, and we didn’t take her to the ball.”
“Bring her here anyway,” demanded the Prince.
It was the moment of truth, not unlike in the movies when the footage goes slow-mo with dramatic music in the background.
When Cinderella tried on the slipper everyone cried, “It fits! It fits!” while the stepmother and her daughters went all sorts of colours and then fainted.
The Prince looked into Cinderella’s eyes and recognised that she was indeed the hot stranger he had danced with. He was so elated that he took her away to be his bride.
Good thing Cinderella was already over 18 years of age or there would have been some legal complications.
They lived happily for many years in the great palace, and the Princess, who later became Queen, was always kind to her servants, and invited them to attend the annual ball where everyone was asked to wear glass slippers and bring a pumpkin.
Some of you may wonder: whatever happened to Cinderella’s dad, stepmother and stepsisters?
Well, who cares?
The main thing to remember is, always wear comfortable shoes or you will run the risk of injuring your feet and back, which is bad news given the fact that the average medical cost in this country escalates at 14 per cent per annum.
 It may sound outrageous in this day and age of gender equality and political correctness, but this story took place a long time ago. So please, no angry e-mails and Facebook postings from angry female readers.
 Obviously after a drink or three at the pub and the occasional golf, despite the wife’s protestation.
 Actually, his decision was not entirely selfless. He also wanted to marry a hot, new wife just like other Datuks in his circle of friends. Just don’t expect him to admit to this.
 Legally employed and have valid travel documents.
 Of course, this was in the days before NGOs against child abuse came into the picture.
 Bas Mini Wilayah was only introduced in 1975 and the four-coach LRT system would only arrive many years later.
 Readers will probably find the Fairy Godmother’s choice of creatures to work her magic on suspiciously unsanitary, but folks, this is a fairy tale we are talking about.
 The sports car company, not the Formula One team.
 The Safety Pin Dress was voted ‘Best Red Carpet Dress of All Time’.
 A 1994 British romantic comedy film directed by Mike Newell and starring Hugh Grant.
 Don’t ask.
 Cue ‘Lady In Red’ by Chris De Burgh.
 Well, almost everyone. The unemployment rate was really high at the time, so people didn’t have much to do.