Story for the Day: Parental Humiliation
No matter how kindly or loving your parents are, they always manage to find the perfect moment to embarrass you. Even Frewyn's king is not immune to parental humiliation.
|Alasdair: the end of every jape|
The royal party was met with at the front gate, who were just returned from their visit to the Lucentian beauty merchant, Alasdair with his various serums and creams weighing down his arms,the others with their small boxes of beauty items, and Rautu with his trove of chocolates.
“I see you had a productive hunt this morning,” said Boudicca, with furtive smiles. “Did the chocolate give you good chase or did you stalk its habitat and strike when it was unaware?”
Here was a stifling glare, and Boudicca could not but laugh.
“Very well, Iimon Ghaala. I shall say no more about your hunt. I shall only congratulate you for such a formidable catch.” Boudicca held out her hand. “Where is my share? I had best ask for it now before it is carried away and buried beyond my reach.”
Rautu gave her one small box. “This is yours.”
“The generosity astounds.”
Boudicca examined the small box with a chary aspect. “This is vanilla, I know. Or is white chocolate, which is even worse.” She sniffed the box and was pleasantly surprised. “Oh, it’s something with fruit. Much better than vanilla in any case.”
“What is that?” the giant huffed, spying the box in his mate’s other hand.
“A cream made of mashed pig trotters that may or may not improve my complexion.”
“You do not need that,” Rautu asserted, with sobering suspicion, and then, when the idea had settled, he added, “A cream. Made from pigs.”
“Well,” said Alasdair, adjusting his parcels, “when you put it like that, it does sound ridiculous.”
“Apparently, this sort of thing is all the rage in the north,” said Boudicca, “grinding pig feet into a gelatinous mash and painting it onto your face. The practice is rumoured to carry away wrinkles and wrines of anyone willing to offer a few silver in exchange for a soft skin and half a promise. We went to investigate why there were no cuibrini on sale for the holiday this year, and our search led us down a well of Lucentian beauty products. Yours, however, led you to a chocolate haven.”
Chocolate was a necessary addition to life, as were the lines which time etches into the unsuspecting facial landscape, and while everyone was disposed to laugh at him for his habits, Rautu was cherishing very different feelings about hers. He stood closer and, motioning to the box in his mate’s hand, Rautu snarled, “Why do you have that?”
“We tried it at the shoppe, along with a few other items,” Alasdair replied.
The giant’s alae flared. “Did you order my Traala to do this?”
“Never, Iimon Ghaala,” Boudicca assured him. “It was insisted upon, but not by him. I did it as a dare, so I could make a bet with Alasdair and tease him about his mouth wrinkle. He was so determined to win against me in having the best complexion that he quite literally bought the farm, egg masks, milk washes and all. Now I have the lovely image of Alasdair sleeping cozily beside Carrigh with pig trotters tied to his face.”
A mirthless “Heh,” escaped the giant’s lips, and though everyone was disposed to laugh at Alasdair about his hysterics over one indiscernible line, why Boudicca should ever consider taking part in such a scheme was a matter of some concern to one who had always known her to be indifferent to her appearance. It disquieted him more than many other things could have done, so much so that when Prince Draeden came to greet everyone as they moved into the main hall, Rautu stepped back and watched her from the shade of the peristyle, waiting and listening.
“Hello! Hello, children! Happy Brigid’s Day! Happy Brigid’s Day, everyone!” Draeden cried, embracing everyone in the party. “Happy Brigid’s Day, Alasdair,” kissing his son.
“Thank you, father—“
“Since there is no court today, and I thought we might all enjoy an evening out—well, not Martje, because I don’t think she likes much to be away from the hearth—and not Searle, and probably not Aldus—but as most of us could do with a celebration out of doors after the recent excitement we have had, I thought we would do well for a dinner at the Errant Fox.”
Glinks and glances were exchanged here, and Alasdair hemmed and flushed as he spoke. “We could go to the Fox,” said he hesitantly, “but I think there are some stipulations for our going there-- meaning your going there, father. Your history with that eatery has been well documented. Did you notify them ahead of time that we would be coming?”
“Yes, yes, Alasdair. Of course I did, you need not worry. I sent a message half an hour ago, and that should give them more than enough time to get together a good meal for us by evening.”
“But is that really enough time for them to get together a good meal for you?”
Draeden appeared to think about this. “I believe so, unless their larders are poorly stocked, which the Fox’s never are. And did you have a delightful time in the square? Lovely morning we’re having. It feels nearly like spring. Bryeison has been complaining about it something dreadful for the last three hours. You know how he loves the cold. What have you got there, Alasdair?” inspecting the parcels in his hands. “Are these—is this a-- night cream?”
“Yes,” said Alasdair nervously, “and a few other similar items.”
“But you do not need those, Alasdair,” Draeden implored, with paternal solicitude. “Why should you have those?”
“Because your son believes he needs them to maintain his handsome features for as forever as possible,” said Boudicca.
Alasdair groaned and hung his head, mumbling, “Everyone is going to laugh at me over this.”
“We were already laughing in the shoppe, Alasdair.”
Alasdair glared at her and was exceedingly unimpressed.
“Really,” said Boudicca, laughing, “you should not mind what anyone thinks, Alasdair, whether about your creams or your wrinkles. There are many Frewyns who follow generous beauty routines. Pastaddams sleeps with teabags on his eyes, many of the recruits use bathing salts when they want scrape the dirt and grime from themselves, and Count Rosse walks about the garden with cucumber slices plastered over his face.”
“I know,” Alasdair sighed, “I just panic about looking older than my age.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Alasdair,” Draeden scoffed. “You look no older than thirty, even with the line on the side of your mouth.”
Alasdair grumbled a begrudging, “Thank you, father.”
“But it hardly matters, my son. Do not be so distressed about it. You are Frewyn’s king, you see? It does not matter if you have a wrinkle or if you’re horribly misshapen or even if you wear a pair of unmatching shoes. Dealac the Ugly was one of our most revered leaders, and yet he did not mind his gross disfiguration.”
The chief of the party turned away to hide a smile, and Alasdair stared at the floor and hated everybody.