Tony Deyal, Contributor
Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you
If you're young at heart.
For it's hard, you will find, to be narrow of mind
If you're young at heart.
I grew up in a grim neighbourhood, but it was not so grim that I did not have time for Grimm, the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm, who in the 17th century put together old German folk tales that have continued to fascinate children of all ages. Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Snow White and Rapunzel were alive in my imagination in the days before television. Life was tough, but I caught my Rumpelstiltskin.
My favourite stories were of quests and missions impossible, brave knights slaying dragons, and winning the hands of princesses and other fair maidens. That part of me, the incurable romantic, was formed then and has since obtained permanent residency status somewhere in my occipital cortex and hippocampus. I remain, like the Frank Sinatra song, young at heart.
The fairly tale that has stuck in my mind is the story of the little tailor who killed seven flies with one blow and made a belt boasting of his feat. However, he left out that it was flies he had killed, thereby conveying the impression that it was people that he had terminated with extreme prejudice. That was the fly in the ointment, and soon he had to fight giants, capture a unicorn and perform other tasks to win the hand of the fair princess.
The feat that really impressed me was when he pretended that a cheese was a rock, squeezed it until the liquid dripped out, and won a contest with an overconfident giant who quickly found himself between a rock and a hard place. This made the tailor even boulder.
IDENTIFYING WITH QUESTS
The Guardian newspaper published an article by Adam Phillips which claimed we can identify with quests because they satisfy two of our basic needs - how to protect ourselves, and getting married. In the first case of self-protection, I am not sure how much squeezing a cheese pretending it is a rock and getting some liquid out of it will deter today's heavily armed criminals, but fortune might favour the Brie. In the second, marriage and children might give me a little additional protection, proving the mozzarella the merrier.
Phillips summed up the essence of my generation of fairy stories. He said, "Each of the heroes or heroines is faced with a seemingly impossible predicament ... . The protagonists of these stories don't want to endure or merely survive, they want to triumph. To put it as simply possible, each of the heroes and heroines of these tales really wants something, and is determined and persistent in their quest."
Exit the dragon and enter the modern fairy tale. It huffs, puffs and blows your house of dreams and fantasy down. Even kids know that the word 'fairy' does not just describe a cute, little winged creature who grants you your wishes, but can also mean a male homosexual.
Here is an example of what has happened to one fairy tale. Once upon a time, a beautiful, independent, self-assured princess happened upon a frog in a pond. The frog said to the princess, "I was once a handsome prince until an evil witch put a spell on me. One kiss from you and I will turn back into a prince and then we can marry, move into the castle with my mom, and you can prepare my meals, clean my clothes, bear my children and forever feel happy doing so."
That night, while the princess dined on frog legs, she kept laughing and saying, "I don't think so."
MODERN FAIRY TALE
The words "I don't think so" can also apply to a modern fairy tale that, at best, involves a quest. Playboy Hong Kong tycoon Cecil Chao Sze-tung has offered a reward of US$65 million to the man who can woo his lesbian daughter away from her wife. Chao, now in his 70s, once boasted about having slept with more than 10,000 women. However, he did not like his daughter Gigi doing the same thing.
Chao, who never married any of the 10,000 women he claimed to have slept with, got upset when his daughter Gigi reputedly married a woman, Sean Eav, earlier this year in Paris. This nearly drove the multimillionaire Chao in Seine.
Sounding exactly like the king in the story of the little tailor, Chao spoke of the man he was seeking for his daughter: "I don't mind whether he is rich or poor. The important thing is that he is generous and kind-hearted." Sounding like a lonely hearts advertisement, Chao added, "Gigi is a very good woman with both talents and looks. She is devoted to her parents, is generous and does volunteer work."
From the time the news broke around the world, Gigi has been swamped with offers from places like Jerusalem, Ethiopia, Istanbul and even Brazil.
The question being asked is whether this fairy tale will come true. Is there perhaps a bold and venturesome man who will dress up in drag and woo the fair maiden in the guise of a woman? Think of Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis pretending to be women in Some Like It Hot or Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie.
Can they insinuate themselves between Gigi and Sean Eav and win the grand prize? Can Cinderella teach her fairy Godmother to suck eggs? Can anyone huff, puff and blow Gigi's sexual preference down? Will the Chinese Rapunzel let her hair down with a man? Sounds Grimm, doesn't it?
Tony Deyal was last seen heading to Hong Kong with a suitcase full of cheese. He has worked out that Gigi will go for a tall man, so as soon as he lands he will put his Stilton.