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What were they doing indoors on such a lovely day!?“It appears we’ve become trendy,” Sagacia remarked to her friend one fine afternoon. She had spent the past hour channel surfing and, as usual, hogging the remote.

Which was fine with Simplia. All those buttons confused her. And her attention span would accommodate none of the programs. She was intent on watching Vasilisa’s cat, who was intent on stalking a squirrel, who was intent on stealing food from the bird feeder.

“We’re trendy?” she asked her wiser, more worldly friend. “Linsey-woolsey has finally come into fashion?”

“Yes,” said Sagacia. “But no! I mean, yes, trendy, but no, not fashionable. Our clothes are still frumpy.”

“Then how are we trendy?”

“Just look at all the television programs and movies about fairy tales! And articles in the newspaper. And bloggers writing about them. And storytellers discussing them. Why, I won’t be a bit surprised if Vasilisa’s advice column gets picked up for national syndication.”

“Speaking of Vasilisa, I wonder where she is now. I wonder when she’s coming home. I wonder when we’ll have to think about trying to answer another question.” There was a note of anxiety in Simplia’s voice.

“I’m not looking for anything til after the first of the month,” said Sagacia non-chalantly.

“You mean like around the second or third of the month?” asked Simplia.

“Yeah. Right about then.”

“Then that would be right about now. By my calculations, today is March 3.”

At that very instant, a bluejay divebombed the cat that stalked the squirrel that raided the birdfeeder that fell with a clatter that awakened the dog that scratched at the door that kept out the flies that buzzed ’round the heads that thought the thoughts that Sagacia and Simplia uttered.

When Sagacia opened the door to let him in, she noticed the corner of an envelope peeking out from the edge of the welcome mat. It was addressed to Vasilisa the Wise, with instructions in the postmistress’s handwriting directing the mail carrier to deliver it to the simpletons’ cottage.

Simplia looked at the letter and then at her friend’s face with an expression that said, “Told you so.”

Here’s what the letter said:

Dear Vasilisa the Wise,

Help! Last week, after a storytelling assembly where two hundred 6th graders were immersed in a program of fairy tales, one of the teachers told me he feared calls from parents complaining that the adult themes in my stories — family dysfunction, children abandoned by their parents, insensitive stepsiblings — were inappropriate for twelve-year-olds.

Then, yesterday I was discussing program possibilities with a festival director who told me she was certain that fairy tales would not be well received by her audience of intelligent, erudite, sophisticated adults.

For someone who talks for a living, I am hopelessly slow-witted when it comes to rapid responses, retorts and repartee. What would you have said to this teacher and this producer?

–At a loss in Altoona

Simplia’s eyes grew round.

“What do the big words mean?” she asked.

Sagacia said, “They’re not important. What’s important is that we post this letter on the Fairy Tale Lobby corkboard and see if our magical friends have any definitions … I mean wisdom … to offer.”

The dog’s tail wagged as he said, “I’ll just go fetch the leash.”

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