Today, because a friend of a friend posted this find on Facebook over the weekend:
(photo credit Chad Peterson)
I was going to tell you about how I once ended up going to a Hanson concert for free even though I’ve never been a Hanson fan (neither before nor since). But then I realised I couldn’t write about it in such a way as both to 1. make you laugh and 2. not insult the friend who provided the experience, if I told the story in such a way as to make you laugh. So instead I’m going to post another story I ran across this weekend, which I wrote in high school based on a recurring dream I used to have when I was 3 or 4–or 6 or 7. It recurred for a long time.
The Jack and the Beanstalk Dream
I didn’t remember climbing the beanstalk, but somehow I knew, by the sinister, orange-red glow filtering through the mousehole, that I was in the giant’s castle. I did not want to emerge from my hiding place, but a horrible feeling of curiosity seemed to be eating me from the inside out. I decided it couldn’t be much worse for a giant to eat me from the outside in, so I cautiously crept to the opening and peeked out.
Suddenly, the ground began to tremble, and so did I, partly because the floor was, and partly because the most enormous, most hideous creature I had ever seen had just stomped into the room. It was the giant! He was taller than our school principal, Mr Batson, and greasy, tousled black hair dangled in his face. Hi eyes seemed to bulge through the matted snarls, and saliva dribbled from his horrible red mouth. “Fo fee fum fi!” he roared.
Jack and the Beanstalk Giant – Project Gutenberg eText 17034.jpg. Illustration by Arthur Rackham, 1918, in English Fairy Tales by Flora Annie Steel
Something was not quite right.
My 6-year-old perfectionist mind was uncertain whether to correct him or to stay hidden. Then the giant’s wife magically appeared in front of me, concealing the mousehole with her skirts. My problem was solved. “Fee fi fo fum!” I whispered. She repeated what I had said, and then she and the giant began to argue about the correct order of those blood-chilling syllables. Part of my brain said I could escape down the mousehole while they fought, but something else, I never knew what, said I couldn’t. It was against the rules.
Finally the giant bellowed, “I don’t care what it is! I smell someone’s blood, and I’m going to catch him!” So saying, he stormed out of the room.
Now he was gone, but I was still not feeling very brave when I crawled out of the mousehole and the giantess led me to the huge, grey kitchen. “Okay,” she said, “You’re Jack . . . ”
“No, I’m not!” I protested indignantly. “I’m Jennifer!”
“I know,” she soothed. “But you have to be Jack anyway.”
“But I’m not Jack!” I persisted. “And besides, I’m a girl!”
“Yes, but you have to pretend to be Jack,” she argued obstinately. “Now quick! Hide in this pot!”
I knew if I kept disagreeing, the giant would eventually return and find me. But I also knew that you cook things in pots, the giant wanted to eat me, and if I hid in that pot, all he would have to do was light the stove. I was beginning to explain, when the ground started shaking again.
“I know I smell the blood of someone!” The giant came charging through the door and up to his wife. I hid behind her skirts again. The giant lifted the pot lid. “Hey!” he cried. “Where’d you hide him this time?”
I dashed out the door, but not before he saw me. “There you are!” he shouted with glee. He got off to a very slow start, and I was well on my way down the dark and gloomy halls before he got out of the kitchen. But I was terrified anyway, and I kept running. I heard the giant ranting and raving in other parts of the castle, and I couldn’t tell where he was. He could be at the end of any of the corridors, and I wouldn’t know it until I got there, but I kept running.
My legs felt like “Silly Putty,” and I was sure I would collapse, but then I rounded a corner and noticed a door opening on a brown bedroom.
Thanks to Robin Raskin for this retro image–as an aid to you whippersnappers who don’t understand the above reference…and probably still don’t.
I dashed inside and slid under the bed. This was the kind of hiding place I wanted. Any first grader knows the benefits of hiding undera bed, as long as there are no alligators under there. There didn’t seem to be any under this one. But then, with a sudden feeling of panic, I remembered that the bad thing about this kind of hiding place was that everyone always seemed to look under beds first.
Just then, the giant entered the room. I wriggled against the wall and then stopped breathing. The edge of the bedspread rose, and an enormous face peered at me. It was the same giant, but he certainly had changed! He was dressed differently, and was also bald as an egg, and much fatter than he had been.
“Hi there!” he beamed. “You’re not Jack after all!”
“No,” I gulped, trembling.
“Why don’t you come on out? I’ve found you now.”
“What are you going to do to me?” I asked with a feeling of dread, sure already of the answer.
“Nothing at all, my dear,” he said. “But we–my wife and I–would like to invite you for lunch.
“No thank you,” I said, at the same time trying to devise a way to escape.
I paused, took a deep breath, and said, “Because the bad guys in stories always say that and then the good guys go and the bad guys eat them for lunch.”
“I wouldn’t do that!” the giant laughed jovially. “My wife made us all some nice peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and you can eat with us, and then we’ll send you home.”
“But you’re bad!” I protested. “You tried to catch me and eat me!”
“My name’s Peter,” he explained. “So of course I’m not really bad.” I didn’t quite see the connexion, but I decided not to let on. “And that chasing you around the castle,” he continued, “well, that’s only a game. Come on, my wife’s got lunch ready.”
I figured my chances of getting destroyed were just as great under the bed as they were at a lunch table, so I got out and followed him. I managed to have a nice time with the giants after all. “Maybe they really aren’t so bad,” I thought to myself as I began to wake up. “But all the same, I’d better not tell them I’m sick of peanut butter . . . ”
I could go for one right now, though…