Simplia felt proud of her story loving hens as she gathered their warm brown eggs and nestled them in straw at the bottom of her basket. Underneath the last hen, she found something that was not an egg at all. It was a sheet of notebook paper folded into a tight knot, reminiscent of notes the Simpletons had passed back and forth under their desks when they were still in school. The handwriting was loopy, and all the i’s had been dotted with smiley faces.
Up at the house, while Simplia put the eggs away, Sagacia unfolded the wad of paper and read:
Dear Vasilisa the Wise —
I know this isn’t an advice to the lovelorn column, so I hope you’ll forgive me for writing to you. I didn’t know where else to turn. You’ve broken bread with Baba Yaga and lived to tell the tale; you went into the forest and came out again, not only alive but unhurt. I think you might be in a position to advise me.
See, there’s this guy I met at a Halloween party. He’s the cousin of a friend’s brother, and he’s about the most gorgeous man I’ve ever laid eyes on. Thick black hair and a well-trimmed beard, eyes the color of the sky when the moon’s full. If looks weren’t enough, his manners are so polished. He makes me feel like the most special lady in the world. Not only that, but he has fashion sense. And a hot car. AND…here’s the amazing part…he’s been calling me up and asking me out, and of course I’ve said yes, and then on New Year’s Eve he asked me for my ring size. Vasilisa, I think he’s going to ask me to marry him!
I know what you’re going to say. You’re going to tell me to re-read Bluebeard and Mr. Fox and all the other fairy tales about the handsome stranger who garrotes his girlfriends and hangs them on meathooks and bathes in their blood. I know. I know. I know he’s probably got a dark side, just like Bluebeard and Mr. Fox. But here’s the thing:
I live in a conventional household in a conventional city in a conventional part of the country, where I’m expected to follow in the footsteps of my mother and grandmother and all the other women who came before me. I’m suffocating here. I don’t see any other way out. If I were male, I’d just go ask my mother for an ashcake and a bottle of water and go out to seek my fortune. But women don’t set out to seek their fortunes, do they? And since I wasn’t lucky enough to have a step-mother (like some people I could name) to get the ball rolling by dispatching me on a visit to Baba Yaga, I figure maybe this handsome dude (His name is Crispin! Have you ever!?) is my destiny. My eyes are open, and I have a black belt in karate, so I think I can take him on if he starts exhibiting homicidal tendencies. Who knows? On the other side of my ordeal, I might marry a monarch, too! For all I know, Crispin might already be a monarch.
I’m leaning toward going with him. And if I die as a result, well, at least I won’t have died of boredom.
What do you think?
Adventurous Adventuress in Ada
“There’s someone with less sense than I’ve got,” Simplia observed.
Sagacia was outraged. “Does this fatuous question even merit a response?”
Ever the pragmatist, Simplia said, “It’s the only question we have to work with right now, so I say yes. Let’s tack it on the bulletin board of the Fairy Tale Lobby and see what our Magical Friends advise.”
On the way down the driveway for the second time that morning, Simplia said, “I thinks she’s a silly goose. But under all the goosefeathers, I think she has a point. Do you ever hear of a young woman setting out to see the world — just for kicks and giggles? Or going off to seek her fortune? In order for heroines to become heroines, the ones I can think of didn’t just leave their comfort zones, they had to be driven out.”
Sagacia said, “Well, if Adventuress in Ada goes through with her plan, she’ll be driven out of her comfort zone…by a psychopath in a hot car.”
Lang, Andrew, ed. The Blue Fairy Book. New York: Dover, 1965. (Original published 1889.)