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Not everyone who sets out on the hero’s journey survives. In fact, not every Little Red Riding Hood survives.

Simplia stood at the Fairy Tale Lobby bulletin board reading the letter from Adventurous in Ada that was tacked up there along with the notices of property for rent and cauldrons for sale.

“Of course not!” Sagacia said.

Charles Kiernan seems to think so.”

“No he doesn’t! You need to read what he said more carefully.”

Simplia bent over the letter. She pointed at each word and her lips silentely created the shape of his words:

Events—the call to adventure—move them out of their castles, out of their hovels, out of their parent’s home into the wider world to face their particular challenges.           

In imitation of The Hero’s Journey, shouldn’t we, here in the real world, at times move out of our comfort zone, stop doing the same thing that yields the same results? Shouldn’t we turn to face the challenges that are following us?

The romantic in me says, “Tell her to cross the threshold, leave the conventional behind, go on The Hero’s Journey, and good fortune to her.”

On the other hand, and to be honest, if AA in A were my daughter I’d lock her in the basement until this thing with Crispin blew over. He sounds like a Don Juan at best.

Simplia had to admit, Mr. Kiernan never mentioned homicide.

She was also surprised to find MyLinda Butterworth, who had a daughter or two, come down firmly on the side of getting the heck out of Dodge:

It is true that women rarely leave of their own accord, but when they do, they do it with great relish. I remember hearing about a girl who left with a white bear, learned to love him and lost him because of peer pressure. That same girl spent years looking for him only to have to trick an old hag to have him returned. Women may not always be physically strong but they have their wits and besides your hen has her own kick-butt moves to protect her. Give her your blessings, a parcel of bread and let her create her own story.

From Erica (modhukori) came another nudge of encouragement…with caveats and a subtle reminder that stereotypes are unfair no matter which side of the gender spectrum you were born in:

How did we establish, this guy with the Godly looks, charming manners and hot car is a cad? We haven’t put him to the test…. the test which gives him a chance to show him up for who he is under all those layers of glorious packaging! Send him on an adventure, where his heart will be tested, and more importantly, AA, send yourself on an adventure…. waiting for the ring is not an adventure :) True, most heroines did not go looking for an adventure themselves, but neither did they have online access to Simplicia, Sagacia and the gang….. The point is, it’s the same world in many ways (there are princes and trolls. young woodcutters and kindly giants and BlueBeards) and it’s a different world in many ways (you do know karate, and you have the latest technology at your finger tips)…

“And that brings us,” said Sagacia, “to the letter I found scotch taped to the inside of my menu just now. Some guy named Ben.”

Dear Adventurous Adventuress in Ada –

 I recently stopped in at the Fairy Tale Lobby and as I was drinking my tea, my eyes wandered to the bulletin board, where I saw your letter asking someone named Vasilisa the Wise for advice about this dude you just met – Crispin?  You’re hoping he’s your ticket out of the doldrums. Maybe you’ve been to community college and you took a humanities class where they talked about The Hero’s Journey. Obviously, you’ve been exposed to some B-flick versions of fairy tales where the heroine rides off into the sunset with her prince with whom she lives happily ever after, arranges a bloody and dramatic end for her treacherous lover, or makes a beautiful corpse.

 AA in A, I’m here to tell you your chances of any of the above happening with this Crispin fellow are zero, zip, and none. You get yourself hooked up with a prince, you’re going to find out soon enough that he stinks up the bathroom and has a million irritating habits that drive you crazy…right about the time he finds out that you stink up the bathroom and have a million irritating habits that drive him crazy. You run off with an outlaw, you’re going to find a lot more drudgery than adrenalin, and you’re going to experience how lonely it is to live with someone full of secrets. If it turns out he’s a full blown psychopath and you end up dead, there will be nothing pretty about the waste of a human being – you! — who was so anxious to avoid an authentic Hero’s Journey that she took a deadly shortcut through an enchanted forest.  

My advice to you: Pack your bags. Go! Set out on your journey. You’re obviously ready. But go alone. If you need to use another person as a crutch, a shield, a ticket out, you’re not hero material. You’re a manipulator…who is probably being manipulated in turn. And don’t kid yourself — whatever you leave home to get away from, you will encounter IN SPADES along your path. Sooner or later, you’ll have to come to terms with the very conditions, issues, people, and attitudes that sent you packing.

Whatever you decide, I hope you turn out to be one of the survivors. 

Ben N. Dunnit

Simplia wondered, “You think the Adventurous Adventuress will pay any attention to what anybody has said so far?”

“I doubt it,” said Sagacia. “We wouldn’t have when we were young. I’d sure like to hear from her in about fifteen years’ time. See what she did. What the upshot was.”

“Yeah,” said Simplia. “Assuming she does indeed survive.”

***

Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Charles Folkard, illustrator. London: Adam and Charles Black, 1911.


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