Popular Children’s Fairy Tales Reimagined Using Members of My Family.
BY ERIC SILVER
Cinderella—starring my sister-in-law as Cinderella.
Summary: After Cinderella’s father dies, she decides to passive-aggressively punish her stepmother for having the indecency first to marry her father after her mother died, and then to outlive him. So she begins to clean the house, following everyone as they walk around, loudly moaning about how much she suffers because of all the housework she does and that it isn’t helping her thyroid problem. Cinderella is the kinder nickname she is given for her fixation on the fireplace that no one uses, because “Obsessive Shrew-Bitch” wouldn’t jive with the Disney people. On the night of the prince’s ball, her fairy godmother comes and, to shut her up from complaining, buys her new clothes, gives her taxi money, etc. Cinderella goes to the ball, where the prince asks her to dance. She accepts, remarking that since she’s been on her feet all day, a few more minutes wouldn’t make a difference. As they dance, she critiques the furnishings of the castle, then wonders aloud if all princes attend their balls without having shaved that day, or if it was just this particular prince. The prince politely excuses himself and starts up conversation with one of his advisers, even though it is the one with bad breath. Cinderella sits and scowls at the rest of the ball because they “don’t know they have it so good,” then takes a cab home before midnight because otherwise her eyes look puffy in the morning.
The Little Red Hen—starring my mother as the Little Red Hen.
Summary: The hen asks who will help her get the corn, take it to the mill, grind it, make flour, bake it, and whatever else she was saying while my father and I were trying to watch the Twilight Zone marathon on the Sci-Fi Channel. My father tells her she’s in front of the television. The Little Red Hen comes out after the eighth or ninth time Rod Serling pulled one of his clever twists where everybody was an alien, and asks who wants some bread. We grunt. She brings us the bread, but I see she threw raisins in, and I detest raisins in bread, unless it’s cinnamon bread, so I say, “No thanks.” She in turn gives me the typical guilt-trip about how it’s fine that even though she’s been making the damn thing from scratch all day from a recipe she found in the Times, I won’t even eat one slice. My father eats most of the bread and has stomach pains the rest of the night. I go a few more rounds with Rod before I pass out on the couch. In the middle of the night I wake up hungry and settle for a slice of the raisin corn bread. I will vehemently deny this in the morning, even though I am found on the couch with yellow crumbs on my shirt.
Peter Pan—starring my brother as Peter Pan.
Summary: Peter used to leave Never Never Land a bunch of times to visit the real world, but when he came to visit Wendy and the other orphans, he left increasingly upset, because they always seemed to be judging his lifestyle. Whenever he came flying in, he always picked a thunderstorm, and when John asked him why he didn’t check the weather before he went flying, Peter flipped out on him and said he would fly whenever he damned well pleased, and he had his own reasons. The kids didn’t even say anything about Peter growing up and acting like an adult instead of throwing tantrums, but Peter, perceptive as always, senses these judgments and stops going to the real world. He also informs Wendy that she has been a constant source of aggravation and pain to him, and that he will no longer tolerate her abuse. He runs into Cinderella on one of his fairy-dust binges, marries her, and goes off to Never Never Land, where they will bicker because he’s off fighting pirates while she’s cleaning the forest all day. Wendy, John, and Michael, who was previously trying to remain unbiased about the whole thing, think Peter is a jerk.
The Tortoise and the Hare—starring my father and his Honda Civic as the Hare.
Summary: Both animals agree that they will meet at a Greek restaurant for dinner. They leave the house at the same time. The hare does not actually travel any faster than the tortoise, but he speeds up to brake fast at stop lights, makes wild, hairpin turns, and switches lanes compulsively looking for the easiest flow of traffic. He also has his own special shortcuts to get to the Greek restaurant that involve charging through the library parking lot at manslaughter speeds. The tortoise is trying to decide between the dolmades and a moussaka platter when the hare comes in, finishing his point to onlookers that his shortcut was really not much slower than the normal route. The hare orders a gyro, with the yogurt sauce on the side, and tells the tortoise that he’ll just share the tortoise’s salad with him.
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