Once upon a time in a land far, far away there lived a young woman so beautiful that all the other women felt like slapping her, or at least saying mean things about her personality. But they didn’t. They just bit their tongues so hard that when they finally had to open their mouths to eat, the menfolk could see that their teeth were all bloody. The beautiful young woman’s perfect teeth looked really white by comparison.

Once upon a time this peasant woman gave birth to a child the size of a thumb. Back then, people needed lots of children because there was so much farmwork to do. Today, we’d call such a thing a miscarriage.

Once upon a time there was this queen who used to talk to her mirror all the time. At least, that’s who she said she was talking to. Whenever she did this, her ladies-in-waiting would roll their eyes. I actually feel quite sorry for the queen, who had a difficult second marriage and, as a result, a lot of blended family type issues.

Once upon a time there lived a farmer who had three sons. The two older sons had dibs on everything, so the youngest son, who was the cleverest and best-looking one anyway, went off and won some kind of contest put on by the king. He made a great deal of money and got to sleep with a lot of women. But he died young. The two older sons had been quite bitter about their younger brother’s success and felt vindicated in the end, despite the fact that things had been totally unfair — and in their favor — from the very beginning. Except for the genetics.

Once upon a time a woman had two daughters — one beautiful and hardworking, the other ugly and lazy. Inexplicably, the woman loved her ugly and lazy daughter more. I really like this woman.

Once upon a time a well-behaved servant girl with small attractive feet married a prince with no outstanding qualities. The prince was unbelievably wealthy, though. Anyway, after they married, the two of them lived happily ever after. Which is really boring, and the reason people didn’t talk about them much after that. They just watched them all the time, with dark eyes, waiting for something bad to happen.