Sunday, February 26, 2006

Tell a Fairy Tale Day, February 26th


Tell a Fairy Tale Day

I was really excited when I first read about this day, a few weeks ago. I had plans to write a fairy tale and post it, and feel all good about myself for accomplishing something. Yeah, I forgot.

So then, last night while I was trying to quickly write something, I came up with the idea that I would start a story like this:

I was a child back in the day when wishing wells were dug at every corner, and one could drop a penny or two in them on their way to their daily chores and still believe that the magic would be worked through by the end of the day. I was the youngest of seven beautiful daughters of a King. I was not considered as beautiful as the rest because I read too much, and asked too many questions. I was even getting crows feet at the tender age of 15 because of my late night power reading. My mother worried about this and one morning took away all my books. She sent me out to the wishing well, underneath a lemon tree, in the royal gardens, with a golden ball to keep me amused.
I would then encourage my blog readers to continue the story. That was my plan. But last night I teetered back and forth, worried that not enough people would comment to complete the story. And I hate unfinished stories. Today I realized that I need to get over this. The nature of this medium is that it is random, and that is one of the reasons that I like it. If people feel so inclined, please continue on with the story, if not... I will finish it myself.

(Oh, and sorry Master Fob I didn't see your comment until this morning, or I would have tried harder to get this out last night. But if you dreamed about the Frog Prince, then the ESP connection has not been broken.)

The Frog King

This is my favorite fairy tale. And not the one where the girl kisses the frog and he turns into the prince, the one where she throws him against the wall, which is how the Grimm Brother told the story. I think that this story got re-told to make the princess look better mostly because women fairy tales are geared toward little girls these days, and little girls want to be princesses. Never mind that princesses are more likely to behave in the way that the Frog Prince princess behaves, we have created a mystique around the idea of being a princess. Disney has picked this up and marketed it quite well. Anyway, I like the original story, because it shows real human behavior, in all it's ugliness. It tells us to be better princesses, nicer princesses, because the frogs that we are dealing with might turn out to be enchanted princes.

My absolute favorite retelling of this story, isn't really a retelling. It is sort of an analysis of the story... well, it is retold, but we get a psychological perspective of the two characters. Anyway, it is The Frog Prince: A Fairy Tale for Consenting Adults. I have two copies of the book, I like it so much. Here is an excerpt:
THERE ARE TWO KINDS of women: those who marry princes and those who marry frogs. The frogs never become princes, but it is an acknowledged fact that a prince may very well, in the course of an ordinary marriage, gradually, at first almost imperceptibly, turn into a frog. Happy the woman who after twenty-five years still wakes up beside the prince she fell in love with. Entropy is the name that our scientists give to this phenomenon, the irreversible downward slide of events: life becomes death, order becomes disorder, princes become frogs. That is the way of the world, scientists say, and most of us solemnly nod our heads in agreement. But the rules of physics, though they resemble the rules of an ordinary marriage, do not at all correspond to the rules of the human soul. There are no exceptions to the rules of physics, whereas the rules of the soul consist of nothing but exceptions. That is why I want to tell you a different kind of love story, about a frog who became a prince.
Now, don't be afraid of the sub-title "for Consenting Adults," it just means that it isn't a children's book.

My next two favorite retellings are: A Frog Prince, by Alix Berenzy and The Frog Prince Continued, by Jon Scieszka. Both books are children's books, and both challenge the "happily ever after" idea of fairy tales.

So, I hope that everyone goes out and tells a fairy tale today! It's a good day for it.

5 comments:

LL said...

While sitting in the shade of the tree in the royal garden, our princess was contemplating the concept of gravity when something hit the top of her head. She looked up in an attempt to discover what had happened. Sadly, however, long years of copious reading had made our heroine near-sighted and she could not spy anything but a blur of green above her head. When she looked down, however, she found that next to the golden orb in her lap had appeared a second of the same color. Delighted, she ran to her mother believing she would be equally excited to hear that under her care, the golden orb had magically become two.
The queen, it turned out, was not pleased. In fact, she had a rather sour expression on her face when her daughter showed her what she had obtained with the golden orb. The queen sent the princess back out the doors of the palace, telling her to try harder.
(I am so happy for you that this day exists so you can revisit this old favorite.)

Master Fob said...

Sitting the next to the well, the princess saw... something. Actually, being near-sighted and all, she wouldn't have noticed there was anyone there had she not heard a voice say, "Hey, babe, you come here often?"

"No," she said. "My wicked stepmother [this is where we learn the queen is not her birth mother] sent me out here because she's jealous of my intelligence. I caught her once looking into the mirror, saying, 'Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the smartest chick of all?'"

"Whoa," the blur croaked. "Dude. That's heavy."

"Yeah, and one time I met this prince at a ball and we had a great discussion about Pearcean semiotics. He said my first of thirdness complemented his secondness. He was tired of all the ditzes who couldn't carry a decent conversation. Anyway, I left him one of my glass slippers so he could find me later. You know, sort of a riddle he'd have to figure out. I knew he'd dig it. But when Stepwench found out, she locked me in the basement and sawed off her daughters' toes just so they'd fit the slipper. As if he wouldn't notice."

"Ribbit," the blur said. "Did he ever find you?"

"Yeah, but after a while I realized he wasn't right for me. He could talk linguistics, but what I really wanted was a man who loved literature. And besides, he wasn't that great a kisser and he was kind of nerdy looking."

"Really?" said the blur as he hopped closer. "Do you think I'm nerdy looking?"

"To be honest, I can't say. My vision's horrible and the stepmom says we can't afford to go to an optometrist. Why don't you come closer so I can see you?"

The blur hopped closer.

"My," the princess said, "what a big... green... mouth you have."

"All the better, my dear, to kiss you."


[Sorry, Absent, no frog prince dreams. We'll have to work on that interblog psychic connection.]

Th. said...

.

What the princess did not realize is that frog's tongues are useful for many more things than just catching flies (though it never looses that minty muscine flava). In fact, many frogs are employed by the devil to snatch souls from anyone princessy enough to openmouth an amphibian.

Of course, our heroine had read all about this and if she had realized her new suitor was a frog, she never would have made such a grevious error.

But alas.

Now, the princess was without a suitor and without a soul (frogs having learned that a princesses soul is worth more on the black market than her dowry anyway) and with only one possible avenue of recourse available before her:

Her devil-affiliated stepmother.

Surely her stepmother had the connections to get her soul back.

edgy killer bunny said...

The princess approached her stepmother with a newfound boldness. (Apparently one of the results of having no soul is a sudden burst of brazenness.)

"Stepmother, you're looking ever so beautiful today. Your skin radiates with warmth and goodness." (I guess you also discover that it's easier to lie. And besides, the Stepmother isn't so much evil as misunderstood.)

"What do you want?" her stepmother asked, wary of her sudden change in deportment.

"I'd like to invite you out to Ye Olde Coffee Shoppe for a grande chai vanilla latte. We have important business matters to discuss."

Intrigued by her offer, Stepmother consented.

Once they had settled down with their drinks and apple fritters, the princess put forth her proposition. "Stepmother, dear, I seem to have lost my soul to a frog, and I desire to have it back. Now, I know you know people who know people who know people who know people--that is, after all, why you're my stepmother. Could you perchance arrange to have it returned to me?"

The stepmother demurely dabbed the crumbs at the corners of her mouth. She smiled. "I can't help you if I don't know which frog has taken your soul." Thinking she had successfully managed to still her stepdaughter's soul, the stepmother began to get up from her chair.

"Well," began the princess. "He had a big green mouth. His skin was the color of a ripening cucumber with speckles of harvested olives." (Apparently, when losing her soul, the princess regained her vision, which I believe serves to say that those who seldom read are soulless freaks of whom we should all be weary.) "He had a tattoo of a wolf on his left forearm and the name 'Aurora' tattooed across his right bicep."

Shocked, but pleasantly surprised, the stepmother sat back down.

b said...

"What an observant child!" exclaimed the misunderstood step-mother. "I told you reading was no good. Now after one morning of senseless thought, you can see clearly at last. Now leave the matter to me, dear, and I shall find out this rogueish frog and make him return what is yours."

The misunderstood yet miserly step-mother than made a quick exit, without chipping in halvsies. As our heroine paid the bill, she reflected on her late comanion's turn of demeanour at the mention of the frog's tattoos.

Would it suprise you, gentle reader, to now discover that the soul-snatching frog was in the employ of non other than Kevin Bacon? After all, when the misunderstood step-mother thought that she must know someone who knew someone who knew someone who knew someone who knew the person who had the soul in question, it of necessity had to be Kevin Bacon.

In summary, Kevin Bacon is the devil.