Prince Charming is extinct

Stabroek News
November 28, 2000

Remember Prince Charming? Hundreds, no thousands of years ago, possibly before the birth of Christ, this paragon of chivalry and his kinsmen would ride up on white horses and rescue damsels in distress. Unasked.

The Messrs Charming would be handsome, rich, kind. They would sweep the forlorn damsels away from their pathetic circumstances, even if it meant fighting a dragon or two. And these gentlemen proliferated. For each damsel there was one, sometimes two Princes. The damsel never had to choose. The Princes would fight a duel and the best man would win. And they lived happily ever after. But something happened when BC turned AD. And like the prehistoric dinosaur, the Messrs Charming became extinct. They went to live in the damsels' memories and when they could no longer remember what they were like, to pass down the stories to posterity, they made them up. And therein lies the genesis of the fairy tale.

Soon, men were making them up too. Well read story tellers like Hans Christian Andersen and the Grimm brothers dipped deep into the wells of their imagination to come up with characters that could be believable. However, the evolution of the male species over the centuries has made them more and more fiction-like.

Reality check. Today's charmer comes in three main types-the corner rum-shop aficionado, the 'sweet' man and the provider/house husband. There are also variations on these types.

The corner rum shop aficionado lives from pay day to pay day. His first commitment on receiving his salary is settling his weekly beer debt and starting next month's. This is the type who will beat his wife if she raises an eyebrow at his financial contribution, if the food is cold or not cooked to his liking, or if the rain fell and soaked his favourite Saturday night shirt after she had lovingly washed it.

This man is to be avoided like the plague. How does one spot him? If ever a date ends at the corner rum shop for a 'washdown', run!

The `sweet' man is mostly irresistible. He is handsome, glib and suave and knows all the right people and their wives. Compliments come easily to him and he manages to make them sound sincere. He falls in love with every woman he sees. He might hardly beat his wife-wouldn't want to injure his hands or his image, but his infidelities do the damage.

This one is easy to spot. He will make advances in full view of his wife/partner and when he has moved on he will ultimately get your name wrong. If you feel you must touch this fellow, use a ten-foot pole.

The provider/house husband hurries home to help his children with their homework. He confers with his wife on family values and discipline. When he plays with his children, he is genuinely pleased to do so; it is not for his friends' amusement. His children's friends secretly wish he was their dad. He works hard to provide for them and looks forward to spending time with his family. He is as much at home in the kitchen as he is eating its produce.

Unfortunately, quite often, this backbencher goes unnoticed. But he has also been classed as an endangered species as there are not many of his type to be found.

There ought to be invitations out to tender for the production, grooming and maintenance of this third type. And while such a process could be interminable, with contractors needing to be carefully selected and specifications adhered to, it must be undertaken, since frogs remain frogs no matter how many times they are kissed.

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