Monday, June 23, 2014

Goldilocks and the Ursine Trio Revisited

 Just for fun: A Leona version
   For mature audiences only

"Once upon a time there was this innocent little blond kid who wandered away from home while picking flowers and was guilty of trespassing, breaking and entering a private home in the woods which she pretty much trashed and got caught by the anthropomorphic ursine occupants who shouldn't have gone off and left food on the table and their house unlocked in the first place but she got away with the crime--it figures--and there must be a moral to the story somewhere."

This English fairy tale from 1837 changed considerably since the original version. At first, the main character was an unpleasant, malicious, intrusive, vagrant old woman who used bad language when things didn't suit her. And the house was owned by three bachelor bears. In the end the woman jumped from the's uncertain if she survived, at least she was never seen again.

In 1849 the protagonist morphed into a charming kid at first named "Little Silver-Hair." The bears had milk in their bowls not oatmeal. From a fearsome folk tale to strike terror into the hearts of toddlers, it got cleaned up into a cozy, more politically correct, family-friendly story. It was somewhat reminiscent of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in that the teenage girl was also an intruder whom the little people discovered under their roof. She had also fallen asleep in their absence. Must be something in the water. Not sure which fairy tale came first but you can't copyright a plot.

Later psychologists criticized Goldilocks as being a poor behavioral model for kids by evidencing such emotional immaturity. She was obviously an unruly, greedy, delinquent human antagonist. Film makers, cartoonists, and Disney came along deciding to remedy that and projected the age of the blond to late teens, and in some cases added a boyfriend to the mix, altered the plot, and changed the bears into human wolves. Apparently to add spice and appeal to adolescent readers.

So what can we glean of moral behavior from this story for kids of any age including adults? Perhaps we can learn something especially from negative examples.

Oh sure, the little blond innocently wandered off while picking flowers. Who knows, this might have taken place in her mother's flower garden and that was just the beginning of her illicit actions. No wonder she took off for the woods to avoid being punished. We can assume that Goldilocks didn't get her parents' permission to go off alone into the dark forest. Or perhaps she was warned of big bad wolves like Little Red Riding Hood encountered, but not about bears. From the beginning we can see she didn't respect authority figures or property

Where were Goldie's parents anyway? They must not have been very alert since we don't see them rounding up a search party when their daughter obviously disappeared for an entire day. Remember those late night flashes on TV? "Parents! Do you know where your children are?" I don't see such announcements anymore. 
Today we are more likely to ask,  
“Children, do you know where your parents are?” 
 Of course the story was written before TV was invented so we'll give the parents a pass on that one.
One thing always leads to another. As the plot unfolds, we see that Goldie's curiosity led to her being guilty of trespassing. The bears are not off the hook either. They shouldn't have left the house in the middle of a meal for a frolic in the woods just because of the temperature of the food. And they were too trusting by neglecting to lock their doors—an open invitation to burglary.

 Ah yes, we should beware of friendly, little cottages. They might not be as benign as they seem. They might become a crime scene in these days as in days of yore. The occupants could actually have been at home, she might have surprised them, and bad things could have happened. You could be in a heap of trouble if you encountered wild animals who are obviously hungry since they hadn't eaten breakfast yet. If curiosity could kill a cat, it could have been fatal to the little blond kid.

Other lessons to learn: Patience. If Goldie was so hungry after her long walk she could have waited on the doorstep for the occupants to return and invite her in for breakfast. But no, it doesn't even say she knocked, but barged right in and headed for the kitchen. Such poor manners to taste the food in everyone's bowl! Goldie appeared to be so fussy and hard to please. Didn't her mother caution her about eating food in a strange place? Who knows what kind of weird ingredients mama bear cooked up to make that breakfast food? Bears might be partial to savor such strange things like "Animal Crackers" made from real animals! And she ate the whole bowl of little bear's food. Greedy child! When you dally with little samples of forbidden things, before long you are unable to control yourself and go off the deep end with other temptations.

If you can't control your appetite for food, the next thing you know you will be tempted to disrespect the property of others. Here comes a teachable moment: The story goes that her feet were so sore from walking such a distance in the woods that she simply had to sit down. When she broke the cub's chair, Goldie apparently didn't feel any remorse nor make an attempt at damage control. I will have to agree that she wasn't a very good role model for kids since she didn't take responsibility for her actions or leave a note of apology or think about reparation for destroying furniture. Perhaps her conscience had not matured yet or she was just a mean little girl from the git-go.

When Goldie tried out both the parent bears' chairs, she must have displaced the cushions or mussed up things since the bears noticed it as soon as they returned. Or else they were incorrigible neatniks so fastidious and obsessed with order that they got all bent out of shape. Notice that these were talking bears, and the high-strung cub kept screaming—not unlike spoiled human boys and girls who stamp their feet and pout.

The bears must have been gone a long time to give Goldie a chance to fall asleep. Or maybe it was something in the oatmeal that made her drowsy. Did you notice in how many fairy tales the main characters keep falling asleep? Sleeping Beauty was another. At any rate, taking the risk of sleeping in someone else's bed—well, it's certainly not a good idea to curl up on other people's used bed linens. Didn't her mother teach her anything? Bears might have lice or fleas and she could have ended up scratching or worse. The story line goes that she "dreamed dreams of flowers and warm cookies"—yeah, right. Still no remorse to give her nightmares.

When she was discovered, I don't blame her for panicking when she saw three hairy creatures hovering over her. (Remember, they had not eaten yet!!) The story goes that she took off in a flash and made a bee line directly for her home (Ah ha! Goldie must not really have been lost at all, just making an excuse for wandering around in the woods.) In the conclusion, the story line was that she promised her parents that she would never go unaccompanied into the forest again. Here the author was moralizing. Kids will promise anything to keep from getting disciplined. I guess at this point I am supposed to say, "And they lived happily ever after" which is the way most fairy tales end.

So, my take on this tale will also end because tails are always at an end. I hope that my readers will have learned a few lessons from a wayward little blond. She was just lucky not to have ended up in the bears' oven like the hapless kids Hansel and Gretel. Did you ever wonder why nursery rhymes and fairy tales are so gory and scarey? And we think that there is too much violence on TV these days!

An epilogue-ish note: It was rumored among Dark Forest wild critters that Goldie, forever after, had "bear-a-phobia." She refused to visit the zoo, especially the bears' cages.

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