I recently fell into a conversation with a friend about children’s stories. I can’t recall how the conversation came about, but for some reason I referenced “The Three Little Pigs.” I couldn’t remember how the story went, so I asked her to tell it to me. In her version, each little pig built houses, but only one of the houses was made out of bricks. The other two were made out of straw and sticks. The Big Bad Wolf went to the first pig’s straw house and blew it down, so the pig ran over to his brother’s house made of sticks. The wolf then went to that house, huffed and puffed and blew it down, so the two brothers escaped to the third brother’s brick house. Once they got there, the wolf tried to blow it down, but failed. That was the end of her story.
Needless to say, her story bored the crap out of me. I couldn’t believe that the once PG-13 story had now turned into a G-rated, soft-core fairy tale. It was as though someone had remade Psycho into a film about a boy who takes care of his kind old mother at a motel that had turn down service and continental breakfast for all its guests.
I told her that she had the story of The Three Little Pigs all wrong. I had to tell her the truth.
“Your version is crap.”
“No, it’s not. That’s how the story goes.”
“No, it doesn’t go that way. I’m not sure who lied to you about this story, but you have been misled.”
“Hey, my parents told me it that way.”
“Then your parents are liars.”
“No they aren’t.”
“Yes, I’m afraid they are. You have been sheltered by them, haven’t you?”
“Maybe I have. What is your version of the story?”
“I don’t remember it completely, but I think the wolf eats the first two pigs after he blows their houses down. In the end, the wolf fails to blow the brick house down, so he climbs down the chimney, but lands in a pot of boiling water.”
“Yes way. And I even think the pig eats the wolf. It’s twisted and awesome. Your version is watered-down and shitty. It’s like you have been misled your whole life, protected from knowing the truth. Wolves eat pigs and pigs eat wolves. That’s the circle of life in Illinois , so deal with it.”
She kept telling me that my story was sick. I knew that her new, vegetarian, eco-friendly outlook on life made her hate my version, but her idiosyncrasies had nothing to do with the correct version of this tale. I got online and confirmed my version of the story with her. Thank you, Internet!
I read her the story line for line. Needless to say, she was appalled and dismayed by the truth that I presented her. I told her to hang on, that she might be partially right, because I went to the most truthful site in all the land (Wikipedia) and found out that there is a modern, softer version of the story available to feeble parents who like to lie to their children so that they don’t have to explain how wolves masticate pig flesh and vice versa.
She was content, because we were both right. I wasn’t placated at all though. I don’t have children, but I sure as hell know that I think kids can handle a story with a little gore in it. What about Little Red Riding Hood? In that story, the wolf not only swallows the grandmother whole, but then cross-dresses and then swallows Little Red Riding Hood whole too. The only thing that saves the girl and the grandma is a hunter, who cuts the wolf’s stomach open and finds them both inside. Then, to get even with the wolf, they fill him up with stones and he dies. The story is messed up, but it is designed to scare little children; that is what makes it fun. And who can’t recall Hansel and Gretel? If there was ever a mean and twisted tale, it’s Hansel and Gretel. Not only are these impecunious children left to die in the forest by their parents, they make their way back home, thanks to the pebbles they dropped, but instead of the parents being happy to see them again, they instead lead them back out to the forest, where they are abandoned a second time. Then, they end up having to cook an old lady in a burning oven, after the lady preps them for her dinner. To this day, if I see a ginger bread house, I get a little tense.
I have no idea what the watered-down version of these stories might be like and I don’t want to know. It wouldn’t be entertaining to me.
I’m not sure who gave parents the right to hide the truth from their children, but I’m going to find them to give them a little piece of my mind. I don’t have children and I’m not sure that I ever will have them, but that doesn’t mean that I have to accept some diluted version of the real thing. Give me Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm or give me a turnip.