While Kiva and I were volunteering for the female monk (Phikkuni), a male monk (Phikku) came to stay. Ourselves and the other volunteers were fascinated by him at first, he being far less conventional than the other monks we had met, what with the scattering of tattoos we would glimpse as he adjusted his robe as well as the sassy attitude that would leak out of him from time to time. There was indeed a large age gap between this Phikku and our Phikkuni, he being in his thirties, although he looked a lot younger, and she being in her seventies. This combined with the fact that he had only been ordained a year and a half previously made myself and my fellow volunteers less inclined to disapprove of his bending of the rules (making food for himself, smoking and skipping morning meditation being some examples).
However, as the days went on we began to notice an underbelly of resentment emanating from our Phikkuni. Her wish to help the man was stronger than said resentment, but we were interested to know her reasons nonetheless. It was all quite understandable: Phikkuni had worked hard to earn her place. When she came back to Thailand after spending about fifty years in America, many did not take her ambition to ordain seriously. Women are not even allowed to become monks in Thailand, she had to go all the way to Sri Lanka to carry it out! It is also far more difficult to become a Phikkuni in general, and once you achieve that place you are expected to remain a Phikkuni for life. Many men, however, tend to go through a stage in their lives where they think becoming a monk would be beneficial, whether that be to please their parents, earn respect from their peers, or to impress future in-laws. They can become a monk, then leave after a year or two, and come back if they feel like it in later life. Perhaps Phikkuni could have dealt with this injustice if the Phikku had taken his role seriously for the time being, but, as shown, he was doing no such thing.
Phikkuni was occasionally ashamed of her inability to control the temper which had built up over the years during her career as a doctor, but it was certainly effective for putting people in their place and letting problems out into the open. As a result she uncovered some details about the Phikku which explained his reluctance to engage with life as a monk.
The Phikku had until a few years ago been living in Hong Kong working as a model and a plastic surgeon (the latter of which explained his eerily perfect nose and chin). His parents, worrying about his ‘immoral’ lifestyle over there, demanded he move back to Thailand and find a girl to marry. They arranged the whole thing, but he ended up divorcing the woman after two years… he being homosexual and all. He promptly began dating a man, whom he loved deeply, but that romance ended equally unhappily.
Soon after these unsuccessful relationships his parents dropped him off to a nearby monastery, and after having spent a few weeks there he decided out of his own accord to try and become a monk to deal with his (very understandable, in my opinion) anger issues. He, like Phikkuni, was not taken seriously by other Phikkus, his youth and his tattoos being some of the reasons. Phikkuni decided to do her best to help him, despite the few hiccups along the way, the principle of these being the visits of his beautiful leather-clad ‘friend’. They did not do anything to break the Phikku codes of conduct of course, but Phikkuni could sense the tenderness they felt for one another. The woman was open-minded for someone of her age and role, but whether he was straight or gay there was no way she would condone that sort of behaviour while the man still wore the Phikku robe.
I began to imagine the Phikku in terms of Disney. Which character would he be? What if he still had a role in which he had to hide his sexuality, how would he deal with this? I was also quite interested in the Phiku’s two-year marriage- how had he and his ex-wife related to one another?
The following screenplay was inspired by these questions… as well as the most noticeable of his tattoos, this being an elaborate crown on his upper right arm…
I hope you enjoy this different twist on a (constantly retold) tale, and that it satisfies any cravings you have for the exploration of homosexual Disney characters after LeFou’s characterisation in the latest Beauty and the Beast!
INT. CINDERELLA’S ATTIC BEDROOM – DAY
CINDERELLA’s face is partially visible under the covers as she sleeps. Several animals fly and pace about the room, including JAQ and GUS, her loyal mice.
Gus reaches to touch Cinderella’s hanging hand, but Jaq grabs him round his belly.
Don’t be disturbin’ Cinderelly, GusGus!
But she looks so… uh… sad.
The ball wasn’t what we all thunk it’d be, GusGus. She gotta sleep.
Why I’d like-a take that Princeroonie and… just… just… Why wouldee not love Cinderelly?
(pinches Gus on the ear)
He can’t help it, silly!
Cinderella opens one eye, appearing to have heard them, but closes it again after a moment.
The mice sit in silence before Jaq perks up.
Wasn’t it fun bein’ horsies, GusGus?
I was scared at first, but then I was so big! Wasn’t scared anymore!
Lucifee was though, wasn’t he GusGus?
Yes, yes! It was his turn to be scared of us! I wish Lucifee’s lady had been there too…
The two of then get on all fours and kick out with their back legs.
Remember we saw her coming out when we waited for Cinderelly?
Jaq styles his ears into the shape of Lady Tremaine’s hair, and takes two female mice by the hand, pretending they are Anastasia and Drizella, storming down imaginary stairs.
(in an eerily accurate Lady Tremaine voice)
All those curtsey lessons for nothing.
The mice erupt into laughter. Zoom in on Cinderella, who struggles not to grin through her sleeping façade.
Without warning, FAIRY GODMOTHER appears. Jaq and Gus scream.
Cinderella does not turn around to greet the woman, but opens her eyes.
(with as cold a tone as she can muster)
You tricked me. You knew about him. He told me everything.
Fairy Godmother looks down at her godchild sympathetically, and then reaches into her lavender robe to pull out an envelope. She places it on Cinderella’s bed side table.
I am sorry you feel this way, dear… but I am not sorry that I helped you meet the Prince. I hope that someday you will see as well as I do that Happily Ever After will not always come the way you expect…
Fairy Godmother vanishes, and Cinderella closes her eyes again.
Each animal returns to their own conversations, except one bluebird, who is still staring at the envelope. She furrows her feathered brow, takes off from the window ledge, grabs the envelope in her talons and drops in on Cinderella’s head.
Cinderella sits bolt upright and is about to lightly scold the bird, but allows her gaze to linger on the envelope instead.
The animals watch her, and Gus approaches the bed tentatively.
W-w-w… will you read to us, Cinderelly?
Cinderella hesitates, but then scoops Gus onto her lap.
Anything for you, Octavius.
Cinderella breaks the royal seal on the letter and unfolds the letter enclosed. She scans the page briefly, her face unreadable, and clears her throat…
“Dear Cinderella. I would like to begin by saying I am so sorry for springing so much information on you in those few minutes leading up to midnight. You were just so honest with me about your upbringing and about how your stepmother and stepsisters treat you that I wanted to live up to that honesty. You were correct in saying that there was an instant connection between us, perhaps because we share the same Fairy Godmother, and the fact that I am attracted to men does not diminish that at all-“
Cinderella looks visibly upset, but she opens her mouth to continue. The PRINCE’s voice continues the letter instead through voiceover.
PRINCE – V.O.
I wanted to write to you to emphasise that our night dancing together was not an elaborate hoax arranged by myself and our Fairy Godmother… Well, to some degree it was, but it was a hoax that was meant to benefit you. My travels allowed me to hide from my father’s gaze for this long, but now that I am ready to come home and rule there is little way I can do that. He immediately latched onto a cure for what he deemed to be my ‘pickiness’: he would invite all the maidens from all over our kingdom. Surely then, he said, I would find a suitable Queen. I was not ready to explain to him the reason I would refuse the advances of each and every one of those girls… perhaps one day I will be… but in the meantime, Fairy Godmother suggested I use my predicament to assist someone else with theirs. She told me your story, Cinderella, and I ached to help you, and seeing you across the ballroom intensified that longing all the more. I know you would probably prefer to marry your true love, and I will go to every effort to ensure that you find him- or anything else you want out of life! First, however, you need to let me get you out of that hellhole. Did you see the look on your step-mother’s face when I barged past your step-sisters towards you?-
Gus snorts with laughter and Jaq pinches him on the ear again. Cinderella continues reading the letter, her voice taking over.
“Well I am giving you the opportunity to show them it was you who danced with me and to increase that look tenfold. Remember the slipper you left behind? The Duke is putting on an elaborate show with it all over the kingdom as I write, but I have told him where to find its owner. What do you say? Will we give your family the shock of their lives? I hope the friendship I offer is enough to persuade you, and I apologise once again for giving you the wrong impression. I hope to be as honest with the rest of the world one day as I have been with you, and if you assist me in that feat I promise that I will repay you one hundred times over. Beautiful Cinderella, will you please consider becoming my wife as at least a stepping-stone towards happiness?”
She finishes the letter and a hush settles over everyone in the room.
The silence is broken by the ringing of the doorbell from downstairs.