I was thinking about Hansel and Gretel yesterday.
Which got me thinking about how stupid they were to use breadcrumbs to mark their path through the woods. Instead of saving food to eat, they mark a trail with it. I guess there could be good reasons for that.
But then they get to the witch’s cabin, made out of delicious candy and gingerbread and whatnot. Of course they’re going to dig in. And the mean old witch, well naturally she’s built said house to lure children to her so she can eat them.
And I’m like, whoa! Hold up.
Why does she need to eat children if she can make a whole house out of food?
The Brothers Grimm have some kind of explanation about how children are like a delicacy to these old forest witches. Steak dinner if you will, instead of eating that tough and nasty candy.
And, as my mind wanders in the strange way it does, I think:
Parents really like to scare the shit out of their kids.
Number one: I bet no parent, no matter how much of a folksy-peasant you were, really believed that there were candy houses in the woods. They knew there weren’t candy houses, otherwise they would mount candy-raids and steal those mouth-watering peppermint shingles and sugar window-panes.
Number two: Parents did know that there were starving animals, fast-flowing rivers, and poisonous berries. Plus, there were bad people (as there always have been) … though whether or not the witch label would apply is debatable.
Number three: Little kids are dumb. Like fall into the river while trying to get a berry to feed to a bear dumb. They have no common sense and some of them (like my daughter) have absolutely no concept of danger. So if you live in a time where mom has to be doing a long day’s worth of washing and cleaning and cooking, and dad has to chop wood and work the plow and whatnot, you really need to make sure your kids are at least not going to do the dumbest things possible.
So, at night, right before the darkness surrounds them and the sounds of wind and rain come raging against your little cottage, you tell them the scariest shit you can think of that sounds plausible.
Good work, parents. You kept your kids alive. We know, because none of the dumb ones lived to tell the story to their own kids.
This is one of those reasons why I love stories. Because we have the willingness to believe them and, sometimes, they save our lives.