When Crown Prince Allen SilverSpoon turned 20, his royal parents, King and Queen SilverSpoon, told him he should get married and preserve the Royal Line. A kingdom without an heir would rapidly degenerate into a despotism or a democracy, whichever came first. The Prince heeding his parents wishes, took notice of all the eligible Princesses the ministers paraded in front of him.
The Prince saw first hand the ravages of royal inbreeding. Some were comely but with a vacant look in their eyes, indicating that there was no one upstairs. Others had a permanent lurch that could not be hidden. Some were so ugly as to bring you to tears. Others had the eyes of lunatics. The Prince was rumored to have have a drooling brother, locked in a castle tower in Germany. How was he, Allen, spared this fate?
Prince SilverSpoon had been romancing serving girls and downstairs maids since the age of 14. It was called Royal Privilege; others called it whoring. More than one serving girl or downstairs maid had been packed off to another country with a monthly allowance, and told to never return. Royal Privilege, indeed. Anyway, when it came time to produce an heir he was up for the job.
The Royal Physicians looked at Allen’s genetic makeup. They decided that New Blood was needed to keep the crazies at bay. He must marry a Commoner, a blow to Tradition.
If he must, he must. But they would do it his way. He would throw a grand Masked Ball, inviting the most beautiful Commoners in the Kingdom. Not only that, but each woman had to drive her own automobile. That would be included in the Prince’s decision as the most desirable wife.
The Prince was a racing enthusiast. He built a 2-mile, oval course paved with cobblestones, called “The Stone Yard.” Each year they held the “Stone Yard 600.” It was an endurance test, entertaining but hell on suspensions. Prince Allen in his Dumbfounder always gained the the pole position and thundered on to the Winners Circle. There were parts of less sturdy cars everywhere, including the stands.
That the Prince was a collector of fine automobiles was known far and wide. He had a 20 car garage, filled with exotic cars. He drove each one at least, once a week. His favorite was an 8 cylinder, 800 Hp, streamlined Dumbfounder. His love of cars sparked a similar love in the populace. Exotic cars became commonplace.
And so, besides sex, he wanted to be able to discuss over-head valve timing with his Princess. Everyone would drive their finest car to the Ball. All the final candidates had to pass a written automotive test, given by the Royal Mechanic.
The whole Kingdom was in a dither. Young, and not so young women took night school courses in Auto Mechanics and learned tune-up tricks. Cars were re-painted, or polished to a mirrors gleam. Everyone would drive their finest car to the Ball. Plugs and points were filed. Only the highest octane gas was used.
VAROOM! was heard throughout the land.
Cylinderella was a beautiful girl, but to look at her you would never know it. She was dressed in rags and looked like a scullery maid. For indeed that’s what she was to her vicious stepmother and her two pampered daughters. Cylinderella had to do everything. Clean, cook, sew, and scrub the floor on her hands and knees. For her birthday, she got a used apron. At Christmas time, they went all out, and bought her a new mop. A life hardly worth living.
None of the three were beautiful. The most generous thing you could say about them is they were not ugly. Of course each including the mother, thought that they would be God’s gift to the Royal Family. They were excited about the Prince’s ball. They bought expensive gowns and had new hairdos. The daughters drove matching Porsche 911’s. The mother drove a Mercedes Benz. Cylinderella didn’t even have a car. Just a worn-out pair of slippers. No Masked Ball for her.
On the big night they filled up with premium gas. They told Cylinderella to make sure everything in the house was sparkling for their return, and off they went. Cylinderella was so downhearted she wept bitter tears into her mop bucket.
Suddenly there was a big flash of light. A man holding a jeweled torque wrench appeared. “Why do you cry, Cylinderella? You are a beautiful girl. Why don’t you go the ball?”
“Oh! Mr. Bugatti! ( for it was Ettore Bugatti) “My step mother and sisters went, and left me to clean up.”
“What a shame, such a pretty girl like you.” With a wave of his jeweled torque wrench, POOF! A brand new Bugatti Chiron appeared at the curb.
“This is my latest design. An 8 liter, 16 cylinder, turbocharged engine, with 1,500 Hp. It’s handmade, and only costs $ 2,600,000. Don’t have a lead foot on this baby, or you’ll wind up in the next country. You drive it to the Ball, and it will drive everybody crazy.”
“Oh! Ettore, may I call you, Ettore?”
“Such a beautiful girl like you, can call me anything you like.”
“Oh, Ettore, I can’t drive, and know nothing about cars.”
“Don’t worry.” He touched his jeweled torque wrench, to her forehead, and she had all the knowledge of an automobile engineer, mechanic, and race car driver.
“Thank you, thank you!” She gave Ettore a demure kiss on the cheek. “but I still don’t have anything to wear.”
“Not to worry your pretty head. In closet is Ball Gown with Diamonds and rubies all over. Also special shoes that let you dance like a Fairy Queen. But one thing I got to tell you: The car must be back before midnight, or it turns into an ugly Yugo. Remember, Midnight.”
It was a beautiful, be-jeweled, automotive genius that slid behind the wheel of the throbbing Bugatti Chiron and sped off to the Ball.
All of the parking lot attendants were Master Mechanics hired for the evening. They waved and conducted into place every type of luxury car that was ever made. Ferrari 485s, Lamborghinis, Maserati Gran Turismos, Rolls Royce’s and Bentleys, BMW Z28’s, Porches and a Koenigseggs; a car collector’s wet dream.
The Chiron turned everyone’s heads as the attendants directed it to the left side of the Grand Staircase. But when the beautiful driver got out glittering with jewels, a gasp went up. No one recognized this glorious creature.
The Prince arrived in his newly gold plated Dumbfounder to survey the parking lot. He was wearing his ’StoneYard 600’, racing outfit, and was fashionably late. Everyone pointed to the Bugatti and told him of the beautiful driver. He strode inside and saw only one person. This beautiful jewel-encrusted creature. She wore a small black mask that showed off her sparkling blue eyes, but didn’t cover her pert nose, ruby lips, pearly white teeth, or tiny, bite-able chin. A Goddess.
They danced all night. Of course he asked her for her name, and of course she wouldn’t tell him. And of course he decided that she — whoever she was — would be his bride
Suddenly she saw it was 2 minutes to 12. She ran from his arms to the parking lot, the prince right behind her. She jumped in the Chiron and burned rubber as only 1500 hp. could do, and screamed down the highway. The Prince struggled to keep up. But let’s face it, 800 hp is no match for 1500, and she pulled away.
The Prince’s Racing Rolex dinged 12 times, midnight! To his amazement the Bugatti Chiron turned into a small mud-brown car, that was perking down the highway at 42 mph. To say that the prince was flabbergasted, is putting it mildly. He had to swerve hard to the right to avoid smashing into this brown midget. He ran off the road into a corn field, ripping out the fence, and his brake lines. With no brakes, all he could do was to hold a straight path through a mile of fresh corn, before the tall stalks could bring his dented Dumbfounder to a halt.
They called the heavy wrecker from the Stone Yard 600, which crushed more corn. They looped nylon slings around the car and hoisted it up. It looked and smelled like an ear of golden corn.
The Prince didn’t recognize the tiny car and no one else had seen it. He consulted the the Royal Mechanic who got out his Rogues Gallery of Automobiles. It contained mug shots, front and rear views of every car that was manufactured. The Prince went through it page by page. He recognized the rear end of a YUGO.
OH! the shame! He was bested by the Worst Car in the History of the World. The Yugo was made in Yugoslavia by booze-swilling, drunk assembly line workers, whose Soviet motto was; “You pretend to pay me, and I’ll pretend to work.” The fruits of their labor went out the door with rust spots showing.
He checked the Royal DMV, but there were no Yugos registered. It must have been snuck across the border. An alien, and illegal auto.
The Prince told this transformation tale to the Kingdom’s Wise Men, Advisors, Soothsayers and Astrologers. They all came to the same conclusion; It was an updated Cinderella story. Instead of a Coach and Pumpkin, it was a Bugatti and Yugo. The only thing to do was to duplicate the classic story and hunt for Cinderella.
Easier said than done. Ettore Bugatti had been dead for years. And the Chiron, another alien, illegal auto, was nowhere to be found. The only thing left was a house to house, or garage to garage search of the Kingdom.
The Crown Prince decided to conduct the search himself. Only he would recognize those blue eyes, that pert nose, those ruby lips, pearly white teeth and tiny, bite-able chin.
He started a search of every garage in the kingdom. He made some great barn finds but no Yugo. No one was poor enough to sink that low. There were some English Austin’s, and three-wheeled Cycle-Cars for the old folk. Aston Martins and Ferrari’s for the sporty crowd. Bentleys and Rolls Royces for the filthy rich.
He finally came to Cylinderella’s house. The step-mother and evil sisters, had locked Cylinderella into the pantry. They were all a twitter as they opened the garage with the matched Porsche 911’s and the Mercedes Benz. Alas! the wrong house again.
Then he noticed some thin tire tracks in the mud leading to a shed. He broke open the lock, and there it was; THE YUGO! The sisters and mother were as shocked as he was. They had no idea what had happened when they were at the ball.
“Who owns this?” he thundered.
The mother and daughters were at a loss. “Nobody owns it!” They had no idea where it came from.
“Who else lives here?” The Prince demanded.
“Only a very sad creature who cleans up around the house.”
“Bring her out!”
Reluctantly they dragged a sobbing Cylinderella out of the pantry. IT WAS HER! They fell into each others arms and kissed for 20 minutes straight, much to the disgust of the venomous family.
King and Queen SilverSpoon declared a National Holiday and a Concours d’elegance. If anyone thought that the Prince’s Masked Ball, brought out the exotic cars, it was nothing compared to the outpouring of priceless automobiles at the Concours d’elegance. Not only were the usual expensive cars represented but rare family heirlooms came out of mothballs. Duesenbergs, Isotta Fraschinis, Fagoni et Falashchis. Along with Maybachs, Delahayehs, Bugattis, Invictas and a Koenigsegg.
A Royal Wedding is always a magical affair. The heads of state attended with their wives and girlfriends. Gifts came from world wide. The spirit of Ettore Bugatti appeared, and presented the bride with the same, 1500 hp. Chiron she had driven to the ball, plus the jeweled encrusted gown for her wedding.
The Prince was handsome. The Blushing Bride was beautiful. You could have filled buckets from all the tears of joy. The honeymoon was; “Gazing down on the Jungfrau, in a Secret Chalet for Two.*” They spent an exciting three weeks experimenting with complicated sexual positions and discussing variable, cone-drive transmissions.
Cylinderella and Prince became King and Queen and lived in the Palace. They installed indoor plumbing, which became a craze throughout Europe. The Bugatti Factory built a line of Baby Bugatti’s for each of their children.
As for the vicious mother and two ugly sisters? By Royal Decree, they had to drive de-tuned Yugos for the rest of their lives.
(originally written July 7. 2016)
*from the song “Wunderbar,” written by Cole Porter for “Kiss Me Kate,” 1948