My dad is sitting in bed next to me. I am 8 years old. He is telling me a story.
Once, there was a Prince, a tall, blonde Swede with wise, blue eyes, nicely-muscled physique, above average intelligence, with plenty of charm and grace and wit, who lived in a hovel.
The Prince’s degenerate mother could not afford better than a single mud-floored room, shared with a bunch of stinky swine.
Gross, I say.
Yes, gross, my dad says.
Why does the Prince sleep with swine, I ask.
To keep them warm in winter, my dad says, because they are very poor.
The pigs keep them warm, I ask.
Yes, their body heat, my dad replies, but you’re missing the important part of the story, which is the Prince, who lives in a hovel, instead of the castle he deserves.
Why does he deserve a castle, I say.
Because he’s a Prince, my dad says.
What makes him a Prince, I say.
My dad says: You’re supposed to be on the Prince’s side. He’s the hero. And look at our hero, reduced to living with swine, always smelling of shit. He does not deserve this station, that’s the point, he deserves much more.
So, day after day, my dad continues, the Prince shovels the pig shit out of the hovel and tries to keep the dirt floor clean, but leaves and twigs and more mud from outside keep coming in and the Prince can’t keep up with it all, so he gives up and heads off into the forest.
He does not tell his degenerate mother where he is going . . . .
Why is the mother degenerate, I ask.
Because she is poor. Because she cannot provide for the Prince in the manner appropriate to his station. Because they live in a hovel. Because she cannot provide a better life. It’s because she is lazy, but we will get to that, my dad says.
So, the Prince runs away into the deep, dark woods. The Prince and his mother live in the deep, dark woods because the degenerate mother cannot afford better. They live on the farthest fringes of…