twice-told tales

  1. The little lame boy in the Pied Piper of Hamelin

who gets left behind when the others are led off to their magical fate, weeps and weeps as if his heart were broken. He can never be comforted, because he sees it all; he knows what he has missed. Since he could not follow the music, he will have a long, boring, sated life, without wonder in it, marked mainly by isolation and mild contempt disguised as pity, in which each day is nothing more than a series of moments existed through until there are no more moments left for him. While his lost companions will go singing and dancing wildly into an invisible shining world full of mystery and marvels – even if it seems to the fearful, hesitant, grasping townspeople that they are being led away to bitter death.

  1. The Grandmother in Little Red Riding Hood

What was she doing living out there on her own in the woods? There’s always been something suspect, something louche about her. If she’d just agreed to live in town with her daughter and son-in-law, none of this would have happened. But it may be that the grandmother is a kind of bohemian, an independent-minded sort who doesn’t really get along with her children that well, and her granddaughter loves to visit her because she can’t wait to get away from her oppressive, boring parents, with their chores and nagging. Anyway, as the grandmother knows, sooner or later we’ve all got to face the predators out there; we’ve got to succumb to them or become them; c’est la vie. And it’s a wise child who knows her own grandmother.

  1. The animals in all the tales

The goats, pigs, spiders, geese, cats, donkeys, mice, rabbits, deer, foxes, swans, chickens, crows, eagles, ants, serpents, bears – extras, walk-ons, or stars, they all leave the set each night exhausted, muttering glumly, knowing they’ll never get anything like what they’re worth for their work; they’re just being used for their exotic qualities. But their real lives are never shown, never make it into the tales that light up the big screens. It’s always all about these rich, self-absorbed apes, with their clever tongues, draped bodies, and busy hands. The other animals wonder how it all came to be this way, and how much longer it will go on being this way. They take their meager pay and trudge stoically back to the tattered fields and woodlands at the edge of town, to watch and wait.