ONCE UPON A TIME
Once upon a time. I lived for those words when I was about five years old. Tell me a story. Please. I never found an in-person story teller, so I learned to read. I read everything I could find, cereal boxes, newspapers, my mother’s “True Detective” magazines. But what I really loved were the make-believe adventures I called ‘fairy tales’. The basic premise being: Something Bad is out there and it may get you.
The stuff considered bedtime-stories in the forties would curl your hair. Sort of the equivalent of letting the kids watch “Tales from the Dark Side” and then tucking them in.
The Brothers Grimm were responsible for a lot of that.
Child abandonment in Hansel and Gretel. (Now you know that Mom and Dad would like to be rid of you.) And oh yeah, Gretel pushes the witch in a red-hot oven kicking and screaming. Hurray !
Then there is the ever-popular Little Red Riding Hood:
Look over your shoulder, something is about to get you. He did what to Granny?
And the classic that put the adjective to Wicked Stepmother:
And also told little girls that all they needed was a handsome prince to solve all their problems. The first soap opera.
I say this now, but I read and re-read these amazing stories and lived the adventure each time.
With one exception. I never could buy into this legend, in fact I wanted to go on a little-kid lecture tour and tell my fellow Kids that they must not believe this story. Dare I reveal it? I’ve never heard another person on this planet voice this opinion.
Judgmental. He’s watching you. If you are not perfect, he’ll punish you. Do we get our first wrong impression of God from this myth? I think so.
Discriminatory. If your family is poor he’ll skip your house. I knew those kids. In fact I was one of club.
It’s all a lie. A fairy tale is not supposed to be true. But don’t betray the Santa myth, children must believe in him. I’m not sure why. Didn’t like that phony in the red suit when I was five, don’t like him now.
Okay, okay. I won’t attack baseball and apple pie.
He’s making a list, and checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty or nice……