Clean and Elegant

Clean and Elegant

Wednesday, 13 August 2014


In grade one, my teacher’s name was Mrs. Vanden Bosch. Every morning there was a special helper of the day that Mrs. Vanden Bosch drew from an envelope of cards with our names on them. The special helper of the day got to tell everyone about the weather and what day it was. Then the special helper picked out a question from another pack of cards that Mrs. Vanden Bosch kept in her desk. The cards had thought-provoking questions like “what is a private part?” and “what should you do if a stranger offers you candy?” I remember Mrs. Vanden Bosch holding out her arm. Her triceps sagged a little. “An arm,” she said. “Is not a private part.”

One day the question was, “Who is the most important person in the world.”

“My mom,” one little boy said.

“Jesus,” said my friend Ellen.

“You,” someone said to Mrs. Vanden Bosch. Maybe it was me. I was a nauseating teacher’s pet.

“No,” Mrs. Vanden Bosch said. “For Ellen, the most important person in the world is Ellen. For Cody it’s Cody. For Erica, it’s Erica.”

Now we were five or six years old, and suddenly we had become the most important people in the world.
Once I learned to write, I filled journal after journal with sappy suck-up letters to Mrs. Vanden Bosch. She wrote back saying how wonderful and special I was. So special that I got to go enrichment classes with a fellow social outcast. There we made picture books of stories that had already been written.  My drawings were awkward and one-dimensional, drawn in pencil and coloured in with pencil crayons.  They didn’t look that gifted. The first picture book I made was called, Mama, do you love me?  In the book with words, the mama would answer yes, and she’d describe how much she loved her daughter and it was something impossible.  The other picture book I made was Rumplestiltskin, about the miller’s daughter who was going to be allowed to be the queen if she turned a room of straw into spools of gold.  And the miller’s daughter wanted to be queen but she didn’t know how to turn the straw into gold.  Everyone thought she could but she couldn’t.

The miller’s daughter who wanted to be queen cried and cried in the room full of staw.   A little man came into the room and spun the gold.  There were three nights when the miller’s daughter had to spin straw into gold.  Each night there was more and more straw and the miller’s daughter cried harder and harder. 

The Miller's Daughter is sad.
I liked the story Rumplestiltskin because whenever the miller’s daughter cried she got wonderful things even though someone else did all the hard work for her.

In grade one I cried on Remembrance Day because we were cutting the green leaves out of construction paper and I didn’t understand what the shape was supposed to be. I was supposed to be this wonderful special enriched kid and I couldn’t even make a shitty looking leaf out of green construction paper. 

All the books I’ve ever read, it bores me to think of reading them again.  Except for Rumplestiltskin.  I want to read that story again.

Maybe you haven’t heard the story for a long time and you can’t remember what happened and you would like to hear it again too.

Well, as it turns out, everything was the Miller’s fault.  He told the King that his daughter could spin straw into gold.  And Rumplestiltskin didn’t do it all for free. First the Miller’s daughter gave him her necklace, and then her ring.  The third time she had nothing to give.  Just like the Little Drummer Boy had nothing to give to Baby Jesus. The Miller’s Daughter, the Little Drummer Boy, they were both empty-handed.  Rumplestiltskin said he would still spin the straw, as long as she promised him her first-born child.  A prince made by the miller’s daughter and the king.  She said yes because she had no other options.  She didn’t consider taking off her clothes and fucking the little man.  Miller’s Daughters don’t think of that.  And maybe the little man wouldn’t have liked that anyways.  Or maybe that's what he wanted all along. All that time, the Miller’s daughter didn’t know Rumplestiltskin’s name.  She just called him the little man.  When he left her with the spools of gold, she forgot about him and married the king and got rich and fucked the king until one day she made a baby.  Promptly the little man arrived and tried to claim the child.  The Queen said no.   First she laughed, then she cried, then the little man said that the only way he would let her break her promise is if she figured out his name.  She had three days.  Once again the Queen/miller’s daughter didn’t do her work for herself.  She outsourced, sending out messengers in the kingdom who tried to find all the names in the world.  None of the names were the little man’s name.  Then on the last night, a messenger saw a strange small man dancing around a fire. He just happened to be singing this song:

"Today I bake, tomorrow I brew, then the Queen's child I shall stew. For nobody knows my little game for Rumplestiltskin is my name!” Easy.  The messenger told the Queen and the next day the Queen told the little man his name. He got so mad that he broke the earth with his food and then he hurt his knee and then he snapped in two.   Perhaps he was annoyed that the Queen never fulfilled any of her responsibilities by herself and still she got the gold and the kingdom and the child.  But I guess it was all her father the miller’s fault so maybe that excuses her.  I wonder if the king ever found out that she was never able to turn straw into gold and if he did, I wonder if he cares. 

The End.

The Boatman has never drawn Rumplestiltskin before, but he has drawn this little man:

"Little People Living in Your Platform Shoes"
by The Boatman


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