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Mighty Myth Month: Girl in the Hood.

Little Red Riding Hood
Little Red Riding Hood

We all have to venture out into the world from time to time. For most of us, that’s everyday. We’re moving, walking driving, going, running, catching, all going to or coming from some PLACE. Unless we’re suffering from agoraphobia, we go outside. However, most of us don’t walk through dark woods to get there. Most of us are in a car or a bus. We usually don’t have baskets of goodies. And we’re not visiting sick grandmas.

But most of us want to get where we’re going alive.

And the world is still a dangerous place.

This cautionary tale of a small girl, sent off to run an important errand by her mom, involves, at the surface level, a wolf, a basket, a grandma and the omnipresent red riding cape/hood. (I hope she has a good dry cleaner, because dang, she NEVER takes that thing off. Must be getting pretty ripe by now. Stinky. Maybe that’s how that wolf snuck up on her. She didn’t smell wet dog fur. Sorry. Got off track.)

Anyway, this small girl, known by nothing else than “Little Red Riding Hood,” (not Becky, not Suzie, not Chloe) but LRRH, wanders slowly through the woods, and gives up too much information to a wolf. I should say Wolf. Because the animal represents the Bad Guy. Personifies “stranger danger! stranger danger!” Woof! All he wants, he says, are the goodies in the basket. A metaphor for something else? Perhaps. Red holds fast. She doesn’t give him any treats from the picnic basket she carries to her maternal ancestor’s home.

But Red is not too bright. The Wolf, getting to the final destination before Red, sneaks in the house, eats grandma, but WANTS MORE. He is insatiable! He cross-dresses, disguises, and morphs into a terrible impersonation of grandma. Red questions…but Wolf has a handy answer for everything. Finally, it is he who can’t take it anymore when asked about his teeth. His razor-sharp teeth, wanting nothing else than to chomp.

Some stories have a friendly woodsman saving the day, and getting grandma out of the wolf’s tummy. Other versions have grandma hiding in the closet during the drama. Regardless, the Wolf is vanquished. Red and Grandma are okay. Goodies are served. All is well.


don’t talk to strangers…

don’t give out too much information…(the Wolf is in the Internet now)…

and keep your hood safe.

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Mighty Myth Month: This is pretty grim.

Godfather Death

Before the Coen Brothers, before the Smothers Brothers, and LONG before the Jonas Brothers, there were the BROTHERS GRIMM – Jacob and Wilhem.

 Once upon a time, there were two brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm. They collected folktales and fairy tales as one might collect a bushel of berries. Many of us are quite familiar with the European tales from Germany, France, and other countries about girls with long hair, little evil sprites with identity issues, and the rule of “3,” “7,” and “12.” These fairy tales are as ubiquitous as your neighborhood wolf stalking a goody-basket laden girl. And most of us know these tales are darker, more visceral than the Disney-ized versions many of us grew up with: Cinderella’s sisters cut off parts of their feet to try to fool the prince (who is tricked until a talking tree clues him in), and Rapunzel is freely given up by her parents for stealing some lettuce. They never protest, but accept the child they longed for will be handed over for adoption to the witch next door, whose only advantage was having a better vegetable garden.

But, one thing I learned by reading this annotated version was how deeply racist some of these tales are. They were more than cautionary; they were examples of when modeling even the simplest acts (butchering a pig) can be a demonstration for murder.

The stories are timeless in their creepiness, horror, and forbidding. “Grimm” is indeed an apt name. Don’t go out in the woods alone, dear children. The wolf is waiting.

 A collection of the Grimm Brothers’ tales:

Grimms Brothers on National Geographic: