The Simpletons shuffled through the layers of notes pinned to the bulletin board at the Fairy Tale Lobby. ‘Found: glass slipper,’ one said. ‘Call Charming, 555-0859.’
“‘Lawn care,’” Sagacia read aloud. “‘Email firstname.lastname@example.org.’”
“‘New Clothes,’” Simplia read. “‘Stunning designs; best prices in Empire.’”
“So, it looks like we’re not finding fairy tales with the exact prohibition the professor was hoping for,” Sagacia sighed, flipping the papers. ”‘Lost: Firebird.’” She read soto voce. “‘Reward: princess and kingdom.’”
“‘Lost: Golden Ball. Believed to be in area near pond,’” Simplia related. Then suddenly she smiled and said, “But we did think of that myth about Orpheus and Eurydice and Susan McC remembered the Bible story about Lot’s wife.
Sagacia shrugged. “‘Fixer-uppers,” she continued reading softly. “1 straw; 1 stick. Make offer. Motivated seller.’”
“And we’re hearing about lots of those prohibitions, proscriptions, taboos, injunctions, cautions, and exhortations that Pragmatist in Providence asked for—remember?” Simplia urged. “‘Get the firebird but don’t take the golden cage,’ ‘Get the horse but don’t take the jeweled bridle,’ ‘Don’t administer the herb of life without my guidance,’ ‘Don’t look at a basilisk,’ Oh! And ’Don’t open the door this key goes to—See, Mrs. Bluebeard,” Simplia mimicked, “This key right here . . . “
Sagacia was squinting, still scanning the notes.
“Which reminds me of that other myth about Pandora,” Simplia continued. “Here, take this box. Oh, yeah, and don’t o-“
“Look! Look! Look! Here!” Sagacia erupted. “It’s from Csenge Zalka.” Her hands were shaking with excitement; she could hardly focus. “She’s talking about some Hungarian fairy tales she knows.”
. . . one of our versions of the Dancing Princesses gives three pieces of advice to the hero (from his mom): 1. Never eat from the table of the rich, not even cherries; 2. Never look back (see there it is!!!), 3. Always share what you have with one more person.
“Wow!” Simplia exclaimed. “There it is: Never look back!”
“I’ll send that to the professor!” Sagacia said proudly, tucking the message into her pocket. “I hope she gets in touch with Csenge about it!”
“Yeah!” Simpia agreed. “It didn’t seem like such a rare prohibition until we tried to track down an example.”
“So, what were you saying about prohibitions earlier?” Sagacia asked?
“Proscriptions, taboos, injunctions . . .” Simplia itemized.
“Cautions, . . .” Sagacia remembered.
“And exhortations!” Simplia concluded.
“Yeah, what were you saying about them?”
“Oh, I was just listing some examples, but surely there are more—you know—Things Not to Do in Fairy Tales?”
“And also Things TO Do in Fairy Tales,” Sagacia added. “Like sharing food with strangers and helping animals.”
“Or like gazing or not gazing,” Simplia said, tearing a message off the bulletin board “See this note from Jane Dorfman?”
I think, back to the original question, that many fairy tale characters fall in love from that first ‘gaze.’ It takes a gaze to be smitten. Then there is getting turned to stone by Medusa’s gaze.
“So,” Simplia concluded, “DO gaze if you want to fall in love; DON’T gaze if you don’t want to be turned to stone.”
“Yeah,” Sagacia said. “Like that.”
“And what are some others?” Simplia asked. “Some examples of things you should do in fairy tales?”
Sagacia looked blank. “I can’t think of any right now, but I’m sure there are some,” she said. “Let’s ask our magical friends.”
And as she said that, she was already lining out on a sheet of paper: “Fairy Tale Survival Guide.” With two columns. “DO” and “DON’T DO.”
“Now,” she said, holding it in place and pressing firmly on the thumbtack. “Let’s see if our magical friends can come up with more fairy tales where someone has Do’s or Don’t’s to follow.”
“Or maybe they could come up with their own Fairy Tale Want Ads?” Simplia suggested.
Sagacia rolled her eyes, but she didn’t disagree.