Her parents named her Cinderella for a reason. Well, of course there had to be a reason. One doesn't just choose such a name as one might choose Anne or Dorothy or Linda. No, Cinderella implies a host of meanings.
As she grew up, Cinderella Jones began to wonder about her name. She heard the fairy tale while seated on her mother's lap. Later she saw the Disney movie. Then she became obsessed with her heritage and read all the versions of the Cinderella story that she could find, from countries around the world, stories that often were more brutal than the sanitized version she first heard from her mother.
"Mom," she said one day, "why did you name me Cinderella? The kids in school make fun of me. They call me Princess sometimes and ask where my glass slippers are."
"Your father and I thought that if we named you Cinderella, you would have a charmed life."
Cinderella pondered that. The original Cinderella--and she was thinking of the heroine passed on by the brothers Grimm--didn't exactly have a charmed life. She was cleaning the fireplace and dealt with cinders, so that's how she got her name. And she had two wicked stepsisters. So for a long time she was pretty miserable.
Just like me, Cinderella thought. People make fun of me. They ask me if I've cleaned any fireplaces recently.
Epiphany Number 1: "What a great idea for a summer job! I'm only fifteen, so I can't get a regular job. I'll take this silly name of mine and turn it into something productive." And so she created a small, a very small business for herself: Cinderella's Fireplace Cleaning.
Before long, every house on her street had a very clean fireplace. Cinderella knew that by the following summer she would again be called on to clean fireplaces, if the citizens on her street in Ashleyville, Ohio did with their fireplaces what they were supposed to do in wintertime: use them.
Still, one can earn only a small amount of money cleaning neighborhood fireplaces once a year. The constant ridicule of her classmates remained, although there seemed at this point to be fewer references to hearths and cinders. "Where are your glass slippers? Did they break? Are your feet too big for them?" Such witty classmates, she thought. What to do? Then she had another epiphany.
Epiphany Number 2: Cinderella started searching in catalogs for shoes that looked like glass slippers and came up with nothing. Taking out a piece of paper and a pencil, she started to sketch a shoe that was totally clear. The upper part was made of clear plastic and the heel was composed of clear acrylic. She thought it was pretty. What should she name these shoes? She knew right away: Cinderella's Glass Slippers. She was now sixteen and smart enough to contact a shoe manufacturer about her new creation. Before long, it was possible to buy Cinderella's Glass Slippers in three designs right on the internet.
That quieted her fellow students for a time, but not for long. "Where's Prince Charming, Cinderella? Going to the prom with him?"
By now she was sick of their taunts and somewhat, but not entirely, immune to them. She was now a senior. Cinderella's Fireplace Cleaning had become a franchise, and Cinderella's Glass Slippers, Ltd. was doing a brisk business. But she knew that her classmates had struck a nerve, as they say. She had glass slippers to wear to the senior prom and she had enough money to buy herself a lovely dress, but she had no date. Then she had another epiphany.
Epiphany Number Three: At the beginning of the year, a new boy had joined their class. He had moved from a town called Seldom, Indiana to Ashleyville, Ohio. Cinderella had paid no attention to him, but she had noticed his name: Harry Prince. He was short, but not much shorter than she was, and he was chubby, but not as chubby as she was. She decided to ask him to the dance.
Up to this time, Cinderella had had crushes on various boys in her high school plus a movie star or two, but she had not gone on any dates. She felt that her name was a real deterrent to dating. Who wants to date a girl named Cinderella? Like nobody.
So one day she introduced herself to Harry, who was eating his lunch by himself in the cafeteria.
"Hi, Harry Prince. I'm Cinderella Jones."
"Why would I kid about a name like that? You mean you haven't heard the other kids make fun of me?"
"No, they don't talk to me much. Have a seat."
Cinderella sat down at the table across from Harry Prince. Some obnoxious junior walked by and taunted them: "So, Cinderella's finally found her prince."
She blushed, then scowled, then shouted, "Yes!" The junior turned around and smirked.
Then she got down to business. "Harry, I need a date for the prom. The kids are always making fun of my name and the fact that I don't have a Prince Charming. Then, suddenly, you show up and your name is Prince. Seems logical for the two of us to go to the prom. Cinderella and her Prince. Take that, mean kids!"
Harry was silent for a minute.
"Well? Am I that bad that you don't want to go with me? Do you already have a date?"
"No, and no. But I don't have the money to rent the clothes or buy you flowers or take you out to dinner. Isn't that part of the deal?"
"I guess so. But I have money. I own Cinderella's Fireplace Cleaning, and I design the shoes for Cinderella's Glass Slippers, so money is no problem, unless it's a problem for you, you know, taking money from a girl."
"Problem? Absolutely no problem. I'll be your Prince. Thanks."