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The grey wolf gave excellent, accurate advice, as Ivan Tsarevich learned by not following it. (Image by Viktor Vasnetsov, 1889.)

“I was just thinking . . . ,” Sagacia said.

Murzik and Simplia looked at one another anxiously. To the cat, that could mean that Sagacia was considering trying out a new brand of cat food for which she’d found a coupon; to the Simpleton, it could mean, well–who knew?—but definitely something complicated.

“Planning ahead . . ,” Sagacia continued, “Why don’t we knit Christmas stockings for our magical friends? I’m sure Kate Dudding would help us get started. I could make the stocking part and you could make random lace patterns to trim the cuffs with.”

Simplia and Murzik each breathed a sigh of relief.

“Great idea!” Simplia said. When we go to the post office today to mail all these letters to Speculating in Spearfish, we could drop by The Knittin’ Kitten and pick up some red and green yarn.”

Upon hearing “Knittin’ Kitten,” Murzik got that anxious look again.

“Yes, and let’s also stop by PetSmart to get some cat food,” Sagacia added. “I have a coupon for Murzik’s favorite brand.”

Murzik relaxed, and, post haste, those two Simpletons set upon their stated itinerary: Post Office, Knittin’ Kitten, PetSmart and, for good measure, the ice cream parlor.

Back home, Sagacia admired the new yarn and picked up the folder of instructions she’d picked up. “Christmas Stockings for Knitters,” the cover said, and it showed three different choices of stocking designs.

She unfolded it and read aloud: “Dear Vasilisa the Wi–What the heck!!?” She turned the folder over to check the other side.

“Huh??” asked Simplia, startled. “What did you say?”

Sagacia flipped the folder back to the cover, then opened it again.

Then, “Oh, yeah!” she exclaimed, and they said together. “It’s the magical third day of the month!”

“Okay, now go ahead and read the rest!” Simplia said

Dear Vasalisa the Wise,” Sagacia began anew.

I’m not sure how those two Simpletons get your mail, but I am hoping that this is one letter that you see personally.

“Huh?” asked Simplia again.

“Shush!” Sagacia said. “Just listen!”

I’m not one to complain, and I’m certainly not one to try to get other people in trouble, however, I’m not the only one who has noticed that those two have been completely misusing a very important fairy tale term, and I’m not sure whether they should be trusted with the kind of sensitive information you discuss in your syndicated column. Either they don’t know, or they don’t care–I don’t know which is worse—but, you really shouldn’t leave your reputation as a respected authority in their bungling hands.

I am speaking, of course, of the term “magical friends.” As all of us extreme fairy tale fans know, ‘magical friends’ are friends with a unique ability or magical power which, at some point in the tale becomes critical to the hero completing his/her quest; it could be something like a man with extra long legs or an animal who gives advice. With such friends, the hero can get somewhere fast or discover how to be successful at a task. (I can’t think of any more examples right now, but you know what I’m talking about.)

So, how do those Simpletons use the term? Why, to refer to us! 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. That is just normal! That’s just what we fairy tale people do for each other, as I’m sure you know.

I think you should have a serious talk with those two or perhaps consider replacing them with a new assistant. (By the way, I have advanced degrees in English, psychology, and world cultures, I type 90wpm, and I happen to be in the job market at the moment. I am strongly motivated, punctual, and I don’t waste time knitting or doing other silly, distracting activities.)

Yours truly,

Post Doc in Pasadena

By the time Sagacia finished the letter, both Simpletons were steaming.

Huffing,

Panting!

Pacing!

Simply sizzling!

“Who is this?” Sagacia asked, flipping the paper over again.

“Let me at her!” Simplia fumed.

“Who does she think she is, anyway!!?” Sagacia insisted! “Someone who can only think of two examples of magical friends, and she wants OUR job!”

“We’ll show her!” Simplia affirmed.

“Right!” Sagacia asserted. “We’ll turn her over to OUR Magical Friends,” she said. “They’ll show her a thing or two! Why, they can come up with dozens of magical friends and the fairy tales to go with them in no time flat!”

“With one hand tied behind their backs!” Simplia added, stamping her foot!

Murzik jumped. Not his best day, he thought. Still and all, there was that fresh supply of his favorite cat food.

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