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My childhood room would be only scarcely lit by a bedside lamp when the time would come for me to take off towards the dreamland, albeit – the land of fears haunted by bulged eye monsters would be a more realistic description.

In the silence of the late evening, upon hearing my mother’s hurrying steps approaching the room, i would pray to my childhood’s god to spare me, at least one night… But, mother was determined and ruthless. She would open the door swiftly and with that look in her eyes which i feared more than anything, in a voice that sent galloping chills down my spine she would exclaim: Sweetie, it’s time for your goodnight story!

PleaseGodSpareMeAtLeastThisOneNightLetMeSleepWithoutNightmaresOfMonstersWithBudgingEyes – my personal mantra had failed miserably once again. Mother was punctual – and inconvincible: one story every night.

Every single night, every bloody night she would read to me those horror tales of mistreated orphans and evil step-mothers and wicked old witches and people who were turned into beasts… In shivering voice, i would ask: Mom, could we skip one night, please mommy…

But, nothing could change my mother’s resoluteness, firmly grounded on books by Dr Spock and other luminaries of the time. Also, given that the point was for me to be bilingual – the stories would be read twice, first in our language, then – the same blood chilling story, only in another language, just in case some intimidating detail of neglected animals and bullied children had bypassed my ears.

I would pull my green plaid blanket over my face and i’d squeeze its ends so strongly that my fingers would become almost numb from the grip. That blanket – it had a soul, you know, and it had a name too – Beche. The blanket was my friend, the only one i had in those difficult times, except the toy dog with an unpronounceable name; the three of us were united in the late evening’s suffering.

After having carried out the usual bilingual reading punishment, mother would kiss my wet from tears cheek, she would wish me good night and go away, closing the door behind her. She betrayed me night after night. She would go to the fully lit living room to laugh at TV sitcoms with her accomplice, my father, while the blanket, the dog and i would be left at the mercy of the silent, dark night and creepy fairy tales characters who seemed to come alive in my turbulent dreams…

That being said, remember the movie “Talk to Her”? It’s one of my all time favorites, and Pedro Almodóvar is one of my favorite directors, i just adore what this guy does.

Anyway, in his movie shot in 2002, Benigno, whose name implies he’s harmless, benign  – in his capacity of personal nurse – is looking after Alicia, a ballet dancer who fell into coma. Have you seen the movie? How did it make you feel, the realization that Benigno, harmless as he was, debauched the unconscious woman? Creepy, right? Awkward enough for Almodóvar to shoot the movie about it? Oh, really?

And the charming prince trying to make it out with comatose Snow White, that does not make you sick in your stomach? How hypocritical is that?! To me, the latter fact was utterly disturbing – and one of the main reasons i weeped during the infamous repetitive story telling  in two languages…

And what about Hansel and Gretel, the poor kids abused by evil step-mother while their biological father stood and watched, who were later on in the story stalked by cannibalistic witch? The only meaning i could make of that one is that it’s really bad for you to eat sugar and white flour on empty stomach!

Not to mention Bearskin, who suggests that the only way to earn fortune and marry the love of your life is to skip showering for seven years , that’s – after having sold your soul to the devil… The fact that his bride’s both sisters – quite expected, if you ask me -committed suicide, does not seem to cast a tiniest of the shadows on the newly wed’s beaming happiness! I mean, why would it?!

Here me, o, peeps! Unless you plan to be covering the overpriced, long lasting and quite ineffective psychoanalysis once your children grow up to be anxious and neurotic adults – spare them of Brother Grimm, La Fontaine and other usual suspects!

It’s the new era, at bedtime, read to them James Finn Garner instead! In the stories of our times – Snow White and the queen become good friends and contribute to the sisterhood, while earning world-wide fame and the prince gets a real job at the spa (as a tennis pro – and that’s fairytale-ish enough for a bed time story!)

The Little Red Riding Hood, a feminist of third generation, is taking an immune system boosting brisk walk through the environmentally protected woods and carrying gluten-free low-carb snacks for her grandmother, a mature adult perfectly capable of taking good care of herself…

That’s a kind of story you want to tell your kids at bedtime in 21st century and, to illustrate the narration, you can pull a Tarot card along the way…

L.R.S.

Fairy tale Tarot ; Magic Realist Press and Baba Studio Prague

 

Fairy tale Tarot; A.Ukolov and K. Mahony, artwork by I. Triskova

Little Red Riding Hood – A Politically Correct Fairy Tale by Jim Garner

Snow White — A Politically Correct Fairy Tale