“My, you’re up early!” said Sagacia, coming down the narrow stairs into the kitchen.
“I can’t explain it,” Simplia responded without looking up. “I just couldn’t sleep, and also I had an idea for an origami parrot. See?”
She held up a form of folded multicolored paper that did indeed look like a proud parrot, right down to the little feathers on his chest.
“Wow!” Sagacia gasped, unable to form a precise sentence before generalized gasping sounds emerged.
Simplia rotated the little fellow to show the back: smooth, graceful, bright, with the colors falling just so, suggesting a perfectly curved wing on each side.
“That is magical!” Sagacia went on. “I’d expect him to squawk out ‘Polly want a cracker’ at any moment!”
She reached over to touch the little creature, create-ure, and Simplia set it to rest on her finger. Sagacia squinted to see the details of its lovely coat.
“It looks like, . . .” she said.
“Like what?” Simplia asked.
“It looks like there are tiny words on the paper. See?” She moved it closer to Simplia again.
“Hm-m-m,” Simplia said, inspecting the model from all sides. She began to tug at the beak.
“Don’t tear it!” Sagacia cried out. “You’ll ruin it!”
“Oh, I can do it again,” Simplia said. “I mean, I have to, anyway, in order to really be sure I know how.”
She unfolded the paper into it’s original rainbow-like sheet and held it under the light.
“It is writing,” she said. “Sheesh! Is today the third of the month?”
“Well, yes, it is!” Sagacia noted with some relief.
Simplia squinted at the paper again and read.
Dear Vasalisa the Wise,
I like Fairy Tales, but you know what chaps me? The ending: “Happily ever after.”
Really?? I mean, I’m all drawn into this engaging quest and some enchantment and a happy closure, but ever after? Isn’t that asking just a little too much?
We all know there are going to be unhappy times with plenty of totally miserable and despairing moments to come. Even the wealthiest and most powerful kings and queens suffer deaths of loved ones, children with illnesses and deep needs, infidelities, knee surgeries, pirated ships, stillborn grandchildren, awful, awful stuff that will happen sometime during that “ever after.” Who do we think we are fooling here?
—Dubious in Dubai
PS: I loved you in “The Frog Tsarevna.” I’ve told all my friends to read it.
Sagacia was shaking her head. “Well, how ‘bout I take this over to the Fairy Tale Lobby to pin up on the bulletin board, and you can make another parrot!”
“I’ll go with you,” Simplia said, snatching up some squared rainbow paper. “I can fold and listen at the same time.”
And off they went. But seriously, magical friends, what do you think about that “happily ever after?” Meet the Simpletons at the Fairy Tale Lobby and comment all you like about it. Eight chairs; no waiting.
Thank you, Adam Hoffman!
Friends and readers, a couple of weeks ago from his remarkable blogspot at Fairy Tale Fandom, Adam oh-so-kindly bestowed upon us the beautiful “Very Inspiring Blogger” Award. How could we not be thrilled and proud and quite overtaken at the generosity and kindness of this gesture! So, there it is in our sidebar, and there it will stay!
One of the benefits of receiving it is the privilege of passing it along to some others whose words we admire, in particular some who were there before us and whom we have joined in the effort to spread the joy of storytelling and of fairy tales.
Charles Kiernan blogs at Fairy Tale of the Month/Reflections and Delusions. In discussion with one of the Grimms or his fair Thalia and her Teddy or any of several enlightened merchants or tradesmen in his village, Charles reflects upon a single fairy tale in three parts, three perspectives, three chapters, all posted at the turn of the month. If you’re working on a tale, you’ll likely find some compelling and unrushed insights about it there. Check the archive for your story!
Blogging at The Multicolored Diary, Csenge Zalka places no limits on herself! Mention Fairy Tales or other traditional stories ANYWHERE and she is right there bringing a bright eye and a quick mind to the issue. Movies, books, performances, television programs, graphic novels. . . None escape her probing. Csenge is also a co-host of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, and you’ve got just one month to sign up and join her in what has become a fun, world-wide endeavor.
Right now, Slavicist storyteller Priscilla Howe is in Sofia on a Fulbright, soaking up Bulgarian culture, but that hasn’t stopped her from continuing to blog in English about her life as a full time traveling storyteller at Storytelling Notes, and we more stay-at-home types can share her joy at the cultural discoveries of travel in South and Central America, Belgium, and home again in Kansas, reminding all storytellers of the forever-blending of our lives with our stories.
Very Inspiring Bloggers Charles and Csenge and Priscilla, you are now endowed with the privilege of passing the “Very Inspiring Blogger” award along to others who have inspired you.
Cathy Jo Smith said:
The Irish ending tends to be just “Sin é”–meaning “that’s it”.
There are lots of other signals you can use, though, because you do need something to say the tale is over and give closure–“and they never had to worry about (money, the ogre, hunger) again” also works, if you’re tired of “happily ever after.”
Julie Moss said:
Sometimes I use “happily ever after” to end a fairy tale for they are magical, after all, and magically things could be happy for ever after. But often I interject something like “with hard work and a little luck they all lived happily ever after” which is a little more realistic. Or I make a personal comment, this one is for the Lute Player: “And from then on the king always, without fail, asked the queen’s advice before discussing anything with the Council of Ministers.” The audience helps me decide which endings to use.
I agree with Csenge, ‘happy ever after’ is a way of saying ‘and now we’ll leave the story in the world of story and come back to reality.’ Another way I like to bring listeners back to the here and now is something like ‘And I was at that wedding and I handed round the sausage rolls, and if you look carefully you can still see some of the crumbs on my collar.’ Just as unlikely as ‘happy ever after’ but does the same job.
I completely agree that stories need closure, and that ‘happily ever after’ is a classic way to ‘exit’ a story, not unlike the famous invitation to story – ‘once upon a time.’ Still, Barry and I rarely say ‘happily ever after’ when we tell fairy tales, wonder tales, or other traditional tales. We find other ways to complete the loop for listeners. For us, that has been just as effective. It’s not that we disdain the use of traditional openings and closings, we just like to make our endings fit the language of the tale as we tell it – sometimes that language is spoken and sometimes it is done through a song from the told story.
Looking forward to hearing more. When I have time, I may sneak back and post again about this. The ‘happily ever after’ phrase is a big, analytical bite to take.
Priscilla Howe said:
Thanks for the honor, Sagacia and Simplia!
And as for “…happily ever after” I agree with Csenge that it’s an issue of closure. Even though as grownups we know that happily ever is evanescent, I still feel that satisfaction of having been on a difficult journey and then arriving home safely. It’s a way to offer comfort to the listeners in a world that isn’t always comfortable.
A few years ago, when it seemed that early childhood teachers were being scared (or shamed?) out of letting kids sit on their laps or giving hugs for fear of being accused of abuse, it occurred to me that stories are a way of giving metaphorical hugs, especially when they end on a comforting note like “happily ever after.”. (I haven’t seen teachers being scared like that for a while, thank goodness.)
Yup! :) Metaphorical hug, I like that.
Plus, I have never heard anyone say “I like fairy tales because they are so realistic.” Even kids know at a very early age that reality often sucks. We don’t turn to fairy tales to have that reinforced. We turn to them for the pat on the back that says “everything’s going to be just fine.”
As for “ever after:” I think it depends on the culture… In Hungarian we say “they lived happily until they died.” It sounds a little depressing, but I like it. Also, a lot of folktales pick up after the fairy tale marriage and throw in some of the possible problems (think of the ones where the scheming mother-in-law interferes, or where the child gets stolen, or they can’t have a child… etc.). Those still eventually have an “ever after” moment, but I feel like that’s an issue of closure: After going through so much, we feel like they deserve a point after which they are fine :)
Awww, thank you! Yes, come join the A to Z challenge, it’s going to be great this year! :) http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/