Once upon a time – that is to say, when wizards freely roamed the earth and blackberries were fruit – there lived a handsome and sexy, but extremely vain (big surprise) and rather emotionally immature prince named Harry.
One day when Prince Harry was strutting through the woods, admiring himself in the hand mirror he always carried for solely that purpose, he came upon an elderly guy with a long white beard and a tall pointy cap on his head – a Wizard, of course – stooped over peering at the ground. Prince Harry, absorbed in admiring his reflection, looked down at him, shrugged, and began to walk past him.
“Excuse me, young man,” the Wizard said.
The Prince ignored him.
“I said, excuse me!” the Wizard shouted.
“What do you want? I’m busy,” Prince Harry said irritably.
“Do you think you could tie my shoe? My arthritis seems to be acting up.”
“No way!” Prince Harry responded indignantly.
“Please help me,” the Wizard said rather piteously.
“Okay, you asked for it,” the Prince said.
The Prince bent down and tied the Wizard’s shoe.
“There, it’s tied.”
“Thank you,” the Wizard said. “I am eternally grateful to you.”
The Wizard took a step forward and fell. The Prince had tied his shoelaces together.
On his back like a turtle, the Wizard moved his feet this way and that, trying in vain to pull them apart. The Prince laughed and cavorted gleefully like a child.
“Prince Harry, you are a vain and selfish man,” the Wizard said from the ground.
Prince Harry stopped laughing. “How did you know my name?” he asked uneasily.
Still on his back with his legs in the air, the Wizard replied, “I am a wizard. I know everything. Except how to tie my shoes. I hereby cast a spell on you that will make you as ugly on the outside as you are on the inside.”
The Wizard tossed some glittery stuff at the Prince, who flailed his arms wildly and fell to the earth, dropping his mirror, which miraculously did not break. He picked it up and scrambled to his feet.
The Prince raised the mirror to his face and screamed. There was a lock of curly black hair hanging from his nose to his waist. A large green leaf protruded from the lock of hair.
“Oh God, no!” Prince Harry cried in horror. “I have…a forest growing out of my nose!!!” He ran frantically around in circles with his hands to his face until he stopped, having rather stupidly given himself vertigo, and collapsed on the ground.
“Who will ever love me now? Who???” the Prince moaned.
The Wizard replied, “Good question. If you ever find a woman who loves you with a forest growing out of your nose, the spell will be broken. Good luck, and don’t forget to water.” And with that, the Wizard disappeared.
A year passed. The Prince’s nose hair had continued to grow until it was down to his knees, and several leaves protruded from it. He was also bald. He developed the habit of grasping the end of the nose hair and twirling it around the top of his head, applying tape to his head with a tape dispenser he always kept in his pocket.
One day as he was standing in his garden taping his head, he heard a woman singing the theme song from “Hair.” The Prince tiptoed stealthily in the direction of the singing, and came across a dismayingly beautiful woman named, a bit too obviously, Beauty. She had a huge red rose in her dainty hand. She turned to look upon him, and screamed bloody murder.
Prince Harry grabbed her arm roughly.”What are you doing in my garden, stealing my roses?” he roared.
Beauty recoiled from him.
“Yes, I’m hideous, aren’t I?” said Prince Harry. “Can’t stand to look at me, can you?”
“Well, you do have a forest growing out of your nose,” Beauty pointed out.
“Do you know who I am?” Prince Harry said rather huffily.
Prince Harry sighed and let go of her arm. “Never mind. Just call me Beast Harry.” His eyes narrowed. “Since you were trespassing, you are to stay here until you fall in love with me and agree to marry me.”
Beauty laughed derisively. “Excuse me?”
“You heard me.”
Beauty put her hands on her hips. “You cannot keep me here against my will, Harry Beast,” she said.
“It’s Beast Harry!!!” the Prince bellowed.
“I can do anything I want to,” the Prince said petulantly.
“No, you can’t,” Beauty said.
The Prince scrunched up his brows in thought. “I’ll give you two million dollars and chocolate every day,” he offered.
Beauty shook Prince Harry’s hand, and they walked off together into the forest.
A month passed. Beauty roamed the immense castle grounds, power-walked down the lush forest paths, ate chocolate bars the size of Florida, and schmoozed daily with Prince Harry. The Prince’s nose hair was now down to his ankles, with an abundance of leaves sprouting from its depths. He had taken to carrying a huge watering can around with him as if it were Gatorade, and frequently pouring water over his head to keep it green.
One day as they strolled in the garden, Beauty turned and stared into the Prince’s eyes. “You know, Beast, I must say, even with a forest growing out of your nose you’re quite charming,” she said.
“Thanks,” he said. “So what’s the story? Are you in love with me yet?”
“Not that I’m aware, Beast, sorry,” Beauty said. “And I’ve been thinking that I’d like to visit my sisters in Milwaukee.”
“But you can’t leave me now!” the Prince cried. “I’ll never see you again!”
“It’s just Milwaukee.”
“When people go to Milwaukee, they don’t come back.”
“I’ll come back,” Beauty assured him. “We’ll do lunch.”
“If you don’t come back in a week, I shall die,” the Prince proclaimed.
“Why a week?” she asked.
He shrugged. “Beats me.”
Beauty turned to go. “Goodbye, Beast.”
“Wait!” he cried.
He plucked a leaf from his nose hair and gave it to her.”When this leaf turns brown, I’ll be dying,” he said.
She trotted up to her room to pack.
Eight days later, after alternately giggling and bickering with her sisters for the past week, Beauty had pretty much reached her limit with the female bonding thing. She decided to pluck one of the moonstruck guys out of the line perpetually waiting outside her door, and soon found herself making out with him on the couch in her living quarters.
They tumbled to the floor, and Beauty suddenly noticed that the Prince’s leaf that she had tenderly placed on the coffee table was brown. She leaped to her feet.
“Harry Beast!” she cried.
“I just shaved this morning,” the guy said.
“I have to go!” Beauty ran out.
The guy rubbed his chin and shrugged.
By the time Beauty got back to the castle, the Prince was lying on the floor, with dead leaves piled around him. Beauty ran over and crouched on her knees beside him, taking his head gently in her lap. The leaves around his face crunched loudly.
“Oh, Harry Beast!” Beauty sobbed.
“Beast Harry,” he said weakly.
“You didn’t come back in a week,” the Prince said plaintively.
Beauty cleared her throat. “I was having such a good time with my, uh, sisters, that I lost track of time. Is it too late?”
“Not if you marry me,” he said.
“The combover thing’ll have to go,” Beauty said.
“I love you, Beast. Even with a forest growing out of your nose, I love you.” Beauty kissed him and sneezed. The Prince lovingly wiped her shmutz from his face.
A white cloud descended on them, then lifted. They both coughed and waved the smoke away. The Prince’s nose forest was gone. Beauty gasped loudly.
“What happened to your forest?”
“It’s gone,” said Prince Harry. “You see, a wizard cast a spell on me because…well, never mind that. But now that you love me even with a forest growing out of my nose, the spell is lifted. My nose is hairless at last. Until I’m 70 or so, then it’ll come back on its own. But we won’t talk about that now.”
“I love you, Hairy Beast,” Beauty whispered.
And lived happily ever after. Well, more or less.