Simplia started flapping when she got excited, and she was flapping now.
“Calm down,” said Sagacia. “Or let me hold the Valentines until you’re finished flapping.”
Simplia took a deep breath and held on to the envelopes they were carrying to the post office.
“Okay,” she said. “This is me. Calm. I thought of a case of true love after years and years and years of marriage. Odysseus and Penelope. How many years was he off fighting the Trojan War?”
“Ten, I think,” said Sagacia. “And then it took him another ten to get home.”
“Yeah. So, he comes home, a hero, a rockstar. To a wife who is twenty years older than when he last saw her…”
Sagacia said, “Don’t forget, he’s got twenty years’ more wear on him, too. He was probably looking a little long in the tooth.”
Simplia agreed. “Yeah. And Penelope is still stalling those randy suitors who want her to give up on him and marry one of them, so she’s absolutely the picture of wifely devotion, but we already have examples of several devoted wives. Not so many husbands, though… Wait! Were Orpheus and Eurydice actually married?”
Sagacia squinched her nose in thought. “Only briefly. It was at the wedding reception that she got that snakebite.”
“So Orpheus doesn’t count.”
“No,” said Sagacia, “and I don’t think Odysseus does, either. Not for Margaret at Match.com. She was asking about fairy tale characters. You’re off on Greek mythology.”
“Well bother!”Simplia sounded miffed. “I’ve gone off on yet another tangent, and we’ve gone off route. Look. We totally passed the post office. It’s late. Now we’ll miss the last pickup, and our Valentines may not get where they need to go in time for Valentine’s Day.”
“And our friends will love us anyway.” Sometimes Sagacia was the very Voice of Reason. “Because they know we are devoted to them. Odd, don’t you think, that devoted friends get more front-page-above-the-fold coverage in fairy tales than devoted spouses?”
They reached the post office as the delivery truck was pulling away. It seemed unlikely now that their far-flung valentines would make it to their destinations on time. But the Simpletons forgot their disappointment when the postmistress handed them a small bundle of mail from some of their Magical Friends…all of it addressed to “Margaret @ match.com c/- Vasilisa the Wise c/- The Simpletons c/-Fairy Tale Lobby.”
Sagacia tore into the first one and said, “Yes! This is more like it. Here are some acts of spousal devotion that happen long after the honeymoon is over.”
“This Tarkabarka character appears to be a walking wikipedia of fairy tales,” said Simplia, and she read…
There is an Indian folktale about the girl who had three suitors, representing three different kinds of love. She does not want to disappoint any of them, so she kills herself (go figure). One of them grieves her and then moves on, one of them lies down on the grave and cries, and one of them goes on a quest, finds an herb, and brings her back to life. Alive once again, she chooses Prince 2, claiming that Prince 1 was the love of a child (moving on) and Prince 3 was a father (solving your problems for you) while 2 kept her company in the grave. I know, it annoys me too.
Another example for the man giving a sign of love: “The Queen Who Longed for Snow.”
“Is that an actual fairy tale?” wondered Sagacia. “The only version of it I’m familiar with is attributed to a guy named Walter Hackett.”
Simplia said, “I don’t know. But technically, since nobody was married yet in that Indian story, it doesn’t count, either. I’d like to check in with the happy couple after about their tenth anniversary… But here. Cassie Cushing proposed a couple of humdingers.”
The Castle of the Faithful Wives, which I first heard told by Mark Goldman, is an example of women showing their love for their husbands.
Time and the King of the Elements is a story I recently discovered in which a young husband searches for his missing wife. It’s a new story to me, so I’m still trying to figure out the crafting of it, but, among other things, it seems to speak to the determined dedication that goes into making a successful relationship – those gooshy feelings are nice, but a lasting relationship takes more than that: http://www.worldoftales.com/European_folktales/Slavic_fairy_tale_2.html
“And look! Sharon Gilbert reminds us of a classic…”
How about “The Lion’s Whisker?”
“…which sparked a connection from Megan Hicks…”
Perfect example! And you’ve just reminded me of “Savitri and the Lord of the Dead.”
“…though strictly speaking, Savitri and her husband were still pretty newly wed. It was on their first anniversary that she went toe to toe with Lord Yama.”
The Simpletons found themselves at their front gate, shadows lengthening, letters read.
Simplia turned to her friend and said, “I could use a cup of tea. How ’bout we go back into town and see what’s up at the Fairy Tale Lobby? Somebody there might think of some other stories for Margaret @ Match.com.”
“Let’s hope so,” Sagacia said. She turned up her collar, and the two friends headed back the way they had come.