Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
When I was just a little lad my mother would read to me from an illustrated book of classic fairytales. Each night I would listen intently to stories about giants, dragons, elves, talking goats and evil stepmothers (no comment on this last one). It was these imaginative fables that encouraged me a few years back to attempt to retool a classic fairytale to fit into our own upper Midwestern culture. As a result of this attempt I penned a story about a lonely old woman who wanted a child of her own, but because she did not have the ingredients to make a gingerbread boy, improvised and used the contents found in any good Scandinavian's fridge and thus "Pickled Herring Boy" was born.
I have since desired to rewrite more of the fairy stories told to me in my youth. But like the simian scientist Dr. Zaius getting his first bikini wax, I wasn't sure exactly where to start. (Editor'ss note: The management of this newspaper in no way condones the use of Mr. Fredrickson's obscure reference to a character from the 1970s classic sci-fi movie "Planet of the Apes," and would like to remind Mr. Fredrickson that further references of this sort will cause this newspaper to replace his column with reruns of "Peanuts".)
Anyway, I have been reading through several old fairytale compilations from my children's bookshelf and I think it may be more difficult than I had first thought to update these stories to fit into our upper Midwestern mindset. For instance:
Goldielocks and the Three Bears - This is a story about a bear family's shocking discovery of a presumptuous blond girl who had made herself at home, eating the bear's dinner and then taking a snooze on their beds. Other than the fact that nearly every girl living in the upper Midwest looks like she fell head first into a vat of peroxide, there isn't much else in the story that can apply to this part of the country. As most of us well know upper Midwesterners have a strong aversion to confrontation so I would surmise the bears would simply pretend the home invasion never happened and wait for her to finish her nap and leave. Then complain about the incident to friends (of course out of earshot of Goldie Lock's parents) at the church potluck the following day.
The Boy Who Cried Wolf - This is another story without gravity when placed in the upper Midwest because, had the boy cried wolf just once, the boy's father would have given him the keys to the gun cabinet, instructed him to grab the Bushmaster.450 Carbine with AR type gas operation for reduced recoil and Mark 3 tactical rifle scope and make the wolf wish he hadn't left his house. Not only would the sheep be safe from predators, but also those three pigs in the new housing development west of town would have slept very well that night knowing the little shepherd boy was exercising his Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
The Elves and the Shoemaker - In the original tale the shoemaker was visited each night by small, industrious elves that constructed shoes for the poor shopkeeper to sell the following morning. In the upper Midwest, the shoemaker would have dealt with a failing business model more proactively and would have outsourced shoe construction to equally small, industrious workers from China thereby enabling himself to compete in the free market ... despite a grievance by the United Union of Elves # 207.
And finally, The Emperor's New Clothes - This tale of a delusional despot who is convinced he has been arrayed in the finest outfit only to have a small child inform him he is buck naked could not have happened in the upper Midwest because, once the Emperor had stepped outside on a typical January day to show off his new duds, he would have quickly turned tail and headed right back into the palace to put on his Carhartt coveralls! www.nmfredrickson.com
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