Repost: Ruminations on Ashputtle

Everyone knows this story, right? Wrong!

I’m not feeling well today. This is a repost of something I wrote back in September of 2007:

One of the books I bought at the used bookstore in Eugene, OR was a collection of the Brother Grimm’s fairy tales. I’ve been flipping through the pages randomly looking for fodder and boy is there a lot of it. Either living in the 18 century was much more surreal than it is in the 21st, or the Brothers Grimm knew some sick fucks. Take for instance that most famous of disneyfied story, Cinderella, except her name isn’t Cinderella, which at least sounds pretty, and really what 5 year old, No, what grown person raised in a first world country knows what a cinder is? So you can ignore where her name comes from. The “ella” adds a little sophistication to the name. Ashputtle though? Nothing attractive about that name, I can’t think of a worse name than Ashputtle, Ingrid and Gretchen are pretty bad, but Ashputtle? Worse name ever!

So the story starts with a rich man’s wife dying. The dying mother tells her daughter that she should pray to God for anything she might need and He and herself would watch over the girl. We never learn her real name. The rich man remarried, having a nice wife must have been really boring because he married a crazy bitch. Who of course had two daughters who also happen to be crazy. Crazy is just the beginning though, all three of these women are also vindictive, shallow, spiteful, on and on. The two ugly girls in the Disney movie don’t come close to what these two were. Worse than this though is the apathetic father, who does nothing to protect his first daughter?! Where is this man? When his daughter is forced to pick food out of the ash in front of the fireplace, and then forced to sleep there and wear the same clothes over and over? The man is pretty much a non-event. I guess it is true that Men will do anything for a little tail… Sigh. He does provide a branch of the first tree he brushed against on one of his trips, which Ashputtle takes and plants on her mothers graves. She waters the branch with her tears and it grows into a tree, which she visits everyday. The birds that live in her tree provide her with anything she wishes for. Which is nice I guess, too bad she never wishes to get out of her shitty life. Which just goes on and on… Until the prince of the realm holds a ball to find the most beautiful woman in the land, who will become his wife, because this is how royalty finds its next member… Do you see any beautiful people in the House of Windsor? Of course not, because every royal is inbred. Their the human equivalent of show bred dogs, and about as clever which is apparently why they’re all still swimming in the same stinking, shallow genetic pool, common blood would corrupt it. It is nice to see that someone besides fundamentalist Christians are sticking to obsolete ideas… That is a completely different subject though, back to the folktale.

The Prince throws a ball, the step sisters get Mommy and Daddy to spend ridiculous amounts of money on them so that they can impress his Highness. Ashputtle though can’t go because she looks like a extras reject from a made for television Dickens’ drama. Lucky for us readers Step-Mom is crazy and though she has no intention of letting Ashputtle go, for all she knows they Prince has some sort of dirty slave girl fetish, she pretends that if Ashputtle can complete impossible tasks she may go. So she dumps bags of dried lentils on the floor and tells her she has to pick them all up. Then the stepmother disappears confident that there is no possible way her step daughter can collect them all, having all the confidence of a James Bond super villain. Ashputtle has the birds clean up the mess and takes it back to her step-mom, who now dumps two bags and tells her to clean up, again she leaves?! Again the birds save the day, again Ashputtle is hot down. Then everyone goes off to the ball leaving Ashputtle at home. Ashputtle goes to her tree and cries and through the magic of trees that grow on your mother’s grave, a beautiful dress and fancy shoes fall down and she goes off to the ball, where she has a grand time and makes the prince fall in love with her, it gets late, Ashputtle wants to go home so she runs away. Prince follows but loses her, this whole thing repeats itself two nights in a row, each time Ashputtle gets a fancier get-up, each time she escapes, the third night Ashputtle loses one of her shoes because the stairs were covered in pitch. The prince shows up at the house of Ashputtle, cause he knows she lives there, he followed her twice to it before she disappeared…

At the house he tells the Mother and Father that he is going to marry one of their daughters if the shoe fits, which is gold by the way not glass (both being equally ridiculous as choices for cobblers). The eldest step sister tries it on first, and you know it doesn’t fit, what you don’t know is that crazy step mother tells her own flesh blood to cut her toe off?! “You won’t need to walk when you’re queen”. So she does?! I don’t care how much I love my mother I’m not cutting myself just because she told me so, even if I do get to be queen! (Don’t read in to that statement). So now the shoe “fits”, the prince takes the girl away to the palace but on the way those birds tell the Prince to look at the his bride to be’s foot. He sees the blood and turns around. Wash rinse repeat with the younger step-sis, except cut your heel of this time. Now the prince wants to know who is left, no one the father says and now I’m quoting from the actual text, “There’s only a puny little kitchen drudge that my dead wife left me. She couldn’t possibly be the bride.” Again, give this man Father of the Year award!

So the Prince and Ashputtle get married, and the step-sisters get their eyes picked out by birds at the wedding, beautiful. I love how at the end the story tries to teach a lesson, their eyes were picked out for being false and wicked… Nothing is said about the step-mother and father, so I guess being piss-ass poor parents is okay, in fact it should probably be rewarded. Just don’t try to cash in on your step-sister becoming Queen after you were mean to her, cause then you lose your eyes. Recap: shitty, scarring, permanently damaging parenting is okay. Trying to mooch off of the in-laws eyes PECKED OUT BY BIRDS!!

Gotta say I love that message.

Author: Jonathon

Would rather be out swimming, running, or camping. Works in state government. Spent a youth reading genre-fiction; today, he is making up for it by reading large quantities of non-fiction literature. The fact that truth, in every way, is more fascinating than fiction still tickles him.

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