When I was a child life made sense. But as I’ve grown older I’ve found myself questioning why so much of life seem so very hard. How did it get so difficult? Who’s to blame? Who’s going to stand up and take responsibility for the wreck that has become my life? I’ve waded through years of self-reflection and decades of memories, but have yet to find the source of the malaise that marks my life. The only thing I’ve learned for sure is this:
It’s somebody else’s fault.
(A part of me wants to blame the voices in my head, but my therapist says I shouldn’t listen to them. He says they’re a manifestation of the chemical imbalance within my brain. He says that as long as I’m sufficiently insured he expects us to take many years to sort out the deep pathologies harbored within my psyche. He says he’d tell me more, but our hour is up.)
In the end (and my therapist agrees), I don’t think there’s anyone more to blame than my parents.
Don’t get me wrong, my parents were and are nice people. They spent most of twenty years overseas, sacrificing their time and energy for the betterment of human kind. They raised three kids to be fine upstanding citizens (with no felony convictions and only one investigation still pending). But they’re stinking liars. Filthy, dirty, rotten, no good liars. And I want to set the record straight. So, at the urging of my therapist, I did some research. Here’s what I learned.
Little Red Riding Hood is a lie.
According to my parents Little Red Riding Hood was gobbled up by the wolf and only rescued when a handsome, rugged, outdoorsy-type woodcutter happened to come along and notice a rather plump wolf dressed in Granny’s nightgown. So, the woodcutter did the only thing a man of his superior intellect knows how to do…he chopped at the wolf like a butcher on amphetamines. I guess he figured he might rescue whatever had already been shredded by those pointy teeth and was now stewing in the wolf’s acidic digestive juices. According to my parents’ lies, Little Red Riding Hood popped out along with Granny. Everyone lived happily ever after. (Except for the wolf, who, according to my parents, received a nice settlement from his insurance company, but had his suit against the woodcutter dismissed.)
Little did I know that until that “…happily ever after” line my parents got it pretty much right. But they never discussed the aftermath. Here’s what they left out:
Little Red Riding Hood did not skip home after the ordeal. She was horribly disfigured and, when she finally returned to school six months later, was ostracized by her former friends. Her parents, sensing the trauma to which their daughter was daily exposed, pulled her from the public school and taught her at home. This act, though attempted in all kindness, only served to alienate the few friends she had made. Little Red was further distanced from the relationships she so desperately craved. She became a recluse and is only now beginning to emerge from her hermit-like existence. She is currently taking online courses and hopes to land a job in the lucrative field of data entry.
Granny fared little better. She complains bitterly to this day about the earring she lost during the ordeal. It was from her late husband, Elmer, and she has not been able to forgive her granddaughter for so recklessly abandoning the search for the earring in favor of the warm confines of the ambulance. Granny and Little Red remain estranged with slim hope of a thaw before ol’ Gran gets swallowed by the big wolf in the sky.
The woodcutter (he of ruddy cheeks and brawny arms) didn’t get any smarter after his foray into butchery. Thinking the key to fame and glory was to chop up random animals he became a neighborhood terror, resulting in no less than four counts of animal abuse, three convictions for stalking pets and one charge (not yet taken to trial) of using a common garden spade to forcibly extract a partially digested Pekinese from a Doberman.
In the long run the wolf that came out best. Oh, he’s got a few scars (battle wounds, he calls them) to prove he’s not just telling tales around the pool, but he’s living the high life on an (undisclosed) island in the Caribbean. He’s turned his ordeal into a book (with signing tour), an appearance on Oprah (“The True Cost of Being a Carnivore” in which he tearfully repented of his little-girl-eating ways) and an endorsement deal with a food preparation device (“…a slicer and dicer extraordinaire, with teeth so sharp it can chop a pound of carrots or a small child in under ten seconds!!!”). Yes, he still suffers from the occasional traumatic flashback and longing to nibble the tender flesh of a plump child, but overall, the experience played out well for him. He’s happy and healthy for the first time in his life, ready to attack (in a non-violent, life affirming manner) each day and finally happy with who he is.
So, what did I learn from researching just one of the tales my parents told me as a child? I learned not to trust barrel chested, flannel wearing men around my pets. I learned sometimes the bad guy comes out on top. And I learned to question all the things my parents told me. Maybe they weren’t the omniscient dispensers of knowledge I thought them to be. Maybe they were just making things up as they went along. What if the Little Engine couldn’t? Was George always that curious? Why are there always more ducks than geese? I need to do more research.
Next up…are raindrops really God’s tears because I disobeyed my parents, or could there be something to that meteorological explanation?
The Higgs Weldon is an online humor magazine with funny articles, cartoons, and one liners. It was founded in the Los Angeles stand-up comedy community, but takes submissions from everybody. Please read and enjoy our jokes!