When we’re young and first exposed to storybooks, there are certain kinds of stories that we’re more drawn to. When I was a kid, there were basically four types of stories I could choose from before nap time. There were the animal stories, the rhyming poem stories, the Biblical stories, and the fairy tales. Nowadays they also have the space and video-game stories.
My brother loved the animal stories like Ferdinand The Bull and Tweet the circus calliope that gets attacked by a lion. Personally, I never liked the stories with animals in them because someone was always cruel to the animals, and I would cry. Maybe the people drawn to the animal stories would grow up to be hunters or farmers or zoologists.
The rhyming poem stories had beautiful pictures to go with them, but I didn’t find the stories to easily apply to my life and, frankly, they required more thinking to understand than I cared to muster. I mean, really, words like “muffet,” “tuffet,” and “curds” are just not part of our modern-day conversation. Maybe the people drawn to those stories grew up to become artists, teachers, or the deep, creative type.
Once in a while I would grab a Biblical story because it made my parents happy. Is it just me, or do all of those characters look oddly similar? I mean they all basically have the same outfit on, just in a different color. There were no blonde people in the stories, which makes it harder to tell the recurring characters apart. All of the men had long hair and beards except for Paul, who usually wore blue and had a horseshoe-shaped hairdo. Did all of the people drawn to Biblical stories grow up to be pastors or missionaries or wear the same outfit every day only in a different color?
Maybe the people drawn to the video-game stories will grow up to be computer programmers or accountants. Maybe the people drawn to the Lost In Space stories will grow up to become astronauts or physicists. I always considered these stories a little too over the top for my taste. Besides, they all wore tight outfits, and you can’t camouflage an eaten package of Mega Stuf Oreos in a painted-on outfit, especially in white.
And then there were the fairy tales. The stories of people in far-off lands that all wore different outfits. You could hide loads of cellulite under those puffy skirts. You didn’t have to think too hard to figure out who was good and who was bad. The handsome princes seldom had beards and appeared clean cut. There was a definite line between the haves and the have-nots. It was a really big line.
These are the stories that I was drawn to. They were the stories of men who instantly fell in love with women without even finding out where they went to school or what their favorite color was. Two pages later, they’re slaying dragons for her, and they don’t even know her last name yet. Nowadays, we would call that a relationship without a solid foundation that probably isn’t going to last past the honeymoon.
Needless to say, this is the type of story that I was drawn to as a child. It’s a story where the woman always marries a prince and goes to live in his castle where he will love her forever. There is not a single fairy tale that does not end in “happily ever after.”
Now that I’m an adult, I wonder if the “happily ever after” is as fictional as the dragons, witches, and magic that exist in the rest of the story. Is there really such a thing as “happily ever after”? And what did I grow up to be that relates to these stories? I’m not loved by a prince. Although I would like to be, I’m not a castle-dweller. I still have to work every day and not in a royal kind of way. I don’t even have a puffy skirt. So what became of myself and other fairy-tale lovers? Are we all floating around in no-man’s land?
Do people who were drawn to fairy tales as kids set themselves up for unreal expectations? Are we the chosen few who have set ourselves up to fail repeatedly because we’re looking for the life depicted in a fairy tale? Whether consciously or subconsciously, I think we’re all secretly looking for it in our own way. At this stage, I’m starting to wonder if maybe I should just make my own fairy tale. Maybe I’ll expand my horizons and mix some bits and pieces from the other story types into my fairy tale.
What has your story turned out to be? Does it resemble the stories you were attracted to as a child? Are you a cowboy? Are you a wicked wolf? Or did you find out how to become a princess? If so, please share your secret with me.
May you all find your very own fairy tale from the bits and pieces of different stories that you are drawn to, and may all of your fairy tales include good outfits.
My newest book, Before The Nine Days, is now available at http://www.amazon.com along with the short story The Back of His Mind.