Who does that smartypants think she is, anyway?

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The ultimate in cross cultural magical friends -- an Arabian Nights story set in China translated into English... Good ol' Aladdin.

The ultimate in cross cultural magical friends — an Arabian Nights story set in China translated into English… Good ol’ Aladdin.

Simplia was still fuming over the recent letter addressed (personally, but not so confidentially) to Vasilisa the Wise from a correspondent who signed off “Post Doc in Pasadena”?

“How do you know it’s a she?” asked Sagacia, not looking up from her knitting.

Simplia immediately backed down. “Okay. How’s this?: That smartypants Post Doc in Pasadena has a lot of gall, casting aspersions and flaunting a curriculum vita in an attempt to discredit us. We’re Simpletons, for heaven’s sake!”

Sagacia scooted her knitting to the end of the needle and stabbed the points of both needles into the ball of yarn she was working with. She lifted Murzik from her lap, stood up and said, “Come on. We need some chamomile tea and the company of kindred spirits. Off to the Fairy Tale Lobby with us!”

They were descending the front porch steps when Simplia noticed the Mailmouse coming across the road, just as a bicycle rounded the corner at top speed and was barreling toward the tiny creature.

“Watch out!” she cried, but neither cyclist or Mailmouse appeared to take notice.

Simplia dropped her bag, bounded down the porch steps and veritably flew to the middle of the road, where she scooped up the mouse and skidded to a stop at the other side of the road, just as the cyclist whooshed past.

Rattled, but grateful, the Mailmouse blinked up at her and said, “Wow, lady. That was impressive. I’d never have taken you for a sprinter.”

“Me either,” Simplia told him.

At this point, Sagacia had reached the road, relieved that no one had been harmed.

“My word! Where did that burst of speed and coordination come from?” she asked her friend.

“Beats me,” said Sagacia. “I guess I have an inner super-hero I didn’t know about.”

“A magical imaginary friend?” her friend suggested.

“Whatever,” said the Mailmouse. “Who cares how it happened? She saved my life. I’m grateful, lady. You wanna put me down now so I can get on with my route?”

Simplia made sure the coast was clear from both directions, and then she set the mouse down.

The mouse looked up and said, “You don’t have any mail today, but if that cat’s locked up I can take a short cut across your yard.”

“Go for it,” said Sagacia.

When the Simpleltons reached the Fairy Tale Lobby, they found the people they referred to as “magical friends” engaged in a lively discussion. And there in the middle of the table around which they were all gathered, was that letter, pulled from the public bulletin board, from Post Doc in Pasadena.

Mark Goldman wiped a little smear of birthday cake icing from the side of his mouth (“Oops!” said Sagacia. “I’ll have to send him a belated birthday card.”), cleared his throat, held up an imaginary dictaphone mike and began dictating an imaginary letter:

Dear Post Doc,
You state:
[How do those Simpletons use the term, Magical Friends? We who love fairy tales and have read a lot of them and have opinions and useful information to offer. But there is nothing “magical” about that.]

I beg to differ. (Actually, I don’t beg, I merely disagree.) 
It sounds like you have been listening ONLY with your ears. When you listen to storytellers (or what storytellers write) with MORE than your ears, there is ALWAYS magic.

How shall the character with long legs be any more magical than the teller with long years of experience? Why is the animal who gives advice any more magical than the newbie teller who “wonders if” things might be different?
 You say:
That is just normal! That’s just what we fairy tale people do for each other…
But who shall define “normal,” especially in the realm or fairy tales? What some see as “normal” can so often be “magical” for the one who is looking for help. Sometimes, just asking the right question can appear to be the magic that one needed to open their eyes or their mind to amazing possibilities.
Yes, we fairy tale folk do those things for each other. That’s magic! We tell fairy tales to children of ALL ages. That’s magic! We believe in those tales ourselves. That’s magic! Post Doc, open your ears, your eyes, your heart, your spirit – and experience the magic!


modhukori was nodding and smiling the whole time. When Mark put down his imaginary microphone she said, “Yeah. What’s not magical about us? and what’s not friendly about us?
”

Brian Fox Ellis spoke as he passed slices of birthday cake to the Simpletons:

(W)e as storytellers, have all created a magical moment when a seemingly random story choice made someone’s day, allowing the listener the magical moment because their life made sense, their problem smaller or solved, their crisis of the moment resolved. Even when sharing a non-fiction story, like: the tale of Watkewese, a Nez Pierce Indian who saved the lives of Lewis and Clark by sharing a true story about a kindness done to her by a white man 60 years ago which persuaded her village to not kill them, to help them, to save their lives because of kindness done 60 years ago… What kindness will we do today and what ripple will it have 60 years from now? Storytellers, by our nature, are magical friends.


“Okay,” said Sagacia. “I totally agree that we qualify as Magical Friends in the present tense. Now I’m trying to conjure up actual fairy tales that feature Magical Friends as Post Doc in Pasadena defines them. All I’m coming up with is the Jack Tale, Hardy Hardhead. Anybody else got some?”

Adam Hoffman piped up immediately:

…How about a man who is incomparably strong, or a one-legged man who can run like the wind, or a man who can summon a blizzard by lifting his hat? Maybe a man with gale force lungs or eyes so keen he can shoot the left eye off a fly miles away (“How Six Men Got on in the World” Grimm). How about elves that make shoes? (“The Elves”, Grimm). Or beautiful fairies handing out hazel wands? (“The Wooden Clog-Maker and the King’s Daughter”, a French folk tale). Maybe a talking horse that’s really a cursed prince? Or talking flies, wolves or crabs (“Three Doves”, a Czech folk tale). How about old crones that give magical gifts like cloaks of invisibility (“The Shoes that Were Danced to Pieces”, Grimm). Would a Fairy Godmother count? (“Cinderella”, Charles Perrault).


Oh, and for the record Post Doc, I have been called many things in my life but “normal” was never one of them.


“Good start!” said Sagacia. “What other ones are out there? Do magical friends show up all over the world, or are they specific to certain regionals and cultures?”

The Fairy Tale Lobby grew still as all the magical friends began to ponder the preponderance of Magical Friends in fairy tales springing forth from their particular cultural roots.