A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster
I was surprised the morning of February 26th when the CBC’s Wei Chen (I believe she may be from Dublin – somewhere in Ireland anyway) announced that it was National Tell a Fairy Tale Day. Someone should have told me.
I have often wondered if today’s parents still tell fairy tales to their kids or whether they just buy the little nippers a $2,100 computer and sit them in a playpen.
We all read Grimm’s fairy tales when we were kids, or the delightful stories of Hans Christian Andersen (old Danish Bleu Breath as we fairy tale writers called him). Hans wrote over a hundred stories and the Brothers Grimm, Jake and Crazy Will, published stacks of folk tales amounting to several hundred yarns that the old perverts collected over a lifetime. A few were actually clean enough for children.
Some of their offerings really were grim. Telling your kids about Rumpelstiltskin or Hansel and Gretel almost guarantees little Nigel and Penelope will be in therapy for the rest of their bed-wetting lives. There was always a villain in their gory stories, and a bad son or a daughter-of-a-bitch he or she usually was too.
Rumpel locked Rapunzel in a tower spinning gold out of straw (a common occupation in the 1700s apparently and will be once again now that the average Canadian’s retirement is based on winning the Lotto Max). Rapunzel got away, if you will remember, by letting her hair down, but the handsome prince who rescued her was one of the Royals who liked to wear pink tights and sequinned boots. She eventually died of loneliness, surrounded by a stack of Harlequin romances, a bitter and unsullied maiden of some 80 summers. She would have been better off with Rumpelstiltskin at least he knew what his equipment was for.
The wicked witch with her gingerbread house planned to serve Hansel and Gretel for lunch the next time her sister dropped by. The story ended well but it forced General Electric to add a little snippet to their instruction booklet – Never bend over and look in an oven if there are two kids standing behind you.
Hans Christian was a little kinder with his tales and rarely scared the crap out of the children of Copenhagen. His stories were mostly just sad, but they too occasionally had disastrous endings.
The Little Match Girl froze to death on Christmas Eve, which is not an ending that will leave ‘em laughing as they used to say in Vaudeville. The Little Mermaid and The Ugly Duckling seemed to finish happily, but research proved that this was not so. Granted the ugly duckling did turn into a beautiful swan, but he later died in the Copenhagen Zoo when the crocodile sharing his pond fancied a fowl supper.
The little mermaid, bless her bare chest and fishy bottom, was caught in a gill net off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and served to a bunch of Cape Breton Islanders on a bed of wild rice with a jar of Heinz tartar sauce.
One of his most famous tales, The Princess and the Pea, was later made into a porn movie and renamed the Princess has a Pee. I don’t think we need to go into any more details except to say if you ever have a chance to meet her, wear rubber boots.
All these delightful stories were written long ago, when life was much simpler, as is the person writing this. But where are the stories for today now that the economy is in the tank, the stock market is shaky and the liquor stores are closed on Mondays?
People are no longer worried about Sleeping Beauty. If the lazy bitch won’t get out of bed, let her lie there, we have a living to earn. Well not me, I’m retired, but the rest of you should be up and at ‘em. If Little Red Riding Hood is afraid of getting mugged on the way to Grandma’s house in this, the Third Millennium, she can carry an AK-47 or a machete in her picnic basket, like the kids do in downtown Toronto. It is not our problem; we have Doug Ford to worry about. (All of a sudden he is a hero – what’s the world coming to?)
The billy goats Gruff had to battle a flippin’ ogre who lived under a bridge. I still speed up when I approach an underpass on the 400 in case he is waiting (no, not billy goat Gruff, the ogre – pay attention).
Pinocchio was an interesting story; he was made of wood and every time he told a lie his nose would grow. If Trump was inflicted with the same problem, he would be in the Oval Room; his nose would be through the Rose Garden and half-way down Pennsylvania Avenue. Alas Pinocchio had a tragic end; you probably didn’t hear about it. He stepped on a match and burned right to the ground. With any luck, The Donald . . . I better not finish that we may be going down there in the fall.