Lesson 1: Never Trust a Wolf.
People like David Attenborough would have you believe that wolves are harmless creatures, wonderful examples of nature at its finest – strong, noble, dignified. Well, he’s wrong. Fairy Tales have taught me that wolves are evil, nasty and cunning beasts who will stop at nothing to devour you whole. Not only will they give you false directions while you’re wandering in the woods, they will even dress up in women’s clothes in order to deceive you. If there isn’t a brave woodcutter nearby, you’re history.
And, needless to say, you don’t want to be a harmless old grandmother when a wolf needs your nightie… According to fairy tales, senior citizens the world over must be shaking in their beds dreading the knock that signals the wolf at the door. Fairy tales show us again and again the sheer cunning of these canines as they manage to get inside and then, it’s goodnight Granny.
And that’s not to mention the plight of those who choose to build their houses out of straw or sticks … Fairy tales demonstrate over and over that these harmless home dwellers are persecuted not just by an ordinary wolf, but by a Big Bad Wolf. And why? Is it just because they construct their houses out of substandard building materials? Is it because they don’t have the necessary council planning permits? No. It’s simply because those inside these flimsy houses taste so good, especially roasted in a nice hot oven and served with plenty of apple sauce and crackling …
But I digress. Fairy tales have taught me: never trust a wolf.
Lesson 2: Learn to tell the difference between a wolf and your granny.
It might sound obvious, but this may be a vital survival step one day.
Lesson 3: Names are important.
Fairy tales showed me just how important names really are. For instance, if a character’s name happens to be something like Rumplestiltskin, you can bet your bottom dollar that he’s not going to be the romantic hero played by Leonardo di Caprio in a soon to be released big budget motion picture based on the fairy tale of the same name. Or then again, he might, depending on what you think of Leonardo di Caprio. Whatever, a name like Rumplestiltskin would be like someone today calling their baby SnortyBottomFartyBreath and expecting them to grow up a well adjusted and rounded human being.
In fairy tales if your name is Jack, forget about having a dull life. I feel sorry for those males in fairy tales who happened to be called Jack, and all they wanted was to have a nice quiet life and grow up and become an accountant. Fat chance. Every Jack in a fairy tale is destined to become a Giant Killer, or to Be Nimble, or to grow enormous bean stalks and steal treasure, or to be Jack Frost, Jack Be Nimble or one half of Jack and Jill.
Let’s face it. If you’re a Jack in a fairy tale, you’re going to wind up an action hero whether you like it or not. When there’s Careers Counselling at Fairy Tale School, they don’t even bother with Jacks. They’re just pointed at the door marked Danger, Fame and Fortune and that’s that. If you’re a Jack, don’t even think about doing a traineeship at Target. Jack’s are glory bound, no questions asked.
And you have to be lucky with names in fairy tales, too. Look at Snow White and Rose Red. A bit unimaginative, don’t you think? It’s like calling your dog Mud Brown. But anyway I’m glad they didn’t have any younger brothers and sisters. What would they have ended up as? Sky Blue? Tree Green? Butter Yellow? Blush Pink? They’d start to sound like they should be in a paint colour chart not a fairy tale.
Whatever, Fairy Tales have shown me that names are important.
Lesson 4. Take Care of Your Feet.
You never know. They could be your ticket to marrying the Prince and living happily ever after, which sounds like a pretty good gig if you can get it, as long as he allows you your personal space with plenty of room to grow as a human being.
A note: the glorious illustrations above are by Virginia Frances Sterrett who died tragically young and really deserves to be better known.