Last night I heated up some left-over pasta and meat sauce in the micro-wave. When I took it out, it was too cold. So I put it back in for a couple more minutes. When I took it out again, it was too hot. So I let it cool for a couple of minutes and then it was JUST RIGHT. Naturally, this reminded me of Goldilocks (Goldie Lox) and the Three Bears.
I used to read this over and over and over to my kids when they were little; and, like all great fairy-tales, the story was always fascinating. Of course, the real secret to the fascination was/is that you, right now, are reading this to your daughter/son, right now. It’s the present, direct communication (usually accompanied by a little body cuddling next to a big one) that, in addition to the symbolic, dream-like quality of the actual story, bestows the magic.
So, Goldilocks… Here is this innocent little kid walking through the woods. She sees a snug little house and decides to go in. I forget if at that point she is hungry and/or tired. Maybe she thinks that since this looks like the kind of snug little Bavarian cottage she lives in in a snug little town somewhere, that there will be nice grown-ups inside to welcome her.
Anyway, Goldie walks in. I forget if the door was open, but maybe it was just shut and she opened it. Obviously, it was not locked or she couldn’t have gotten in. (Or did she come in through the bathroom window?).
The next part of the story is little hazy in my memory (but does that matter? After all, it’s a fairy-tale. I suppose it would be interesting to compare the actual story to my memory of it–but I’m not in the mood). So, back to Goldilocks’ immediate wants and needs: Was she hungry and went into the kitchen looking for something to eat? Is that when she found the porridge, or is that another fairy-tale? Well, let’s say she found the porridge sitting on the table–three bowls: A big bowl, a slightly smaller bowl and a very little bowl. So, she picks up a wooden spoon and dips into the big bowl. But that was TOO HOT! Then she tries the slightly smaller bowl, but that was TOO COLD. Then she tries the porridge in the smallest bowl and that was JUST RIGHT.
Then, having sucked up a good dose of carbohydrates (and having just recently wandered around in the woods for a while), she is overwhelmed by fatigue.She goes into the bedroom and sees the three beds–big, smaller, smallest. She tries the big one, the mattress is TOO HARD. She tries the next smallest–it’s TOO SOFT. Then she tries the smallest bed.. and the mattress is JUST RIGHT.
She falls asleep. Then–we don’t know how much time has passed–the Bear family (Papa, Mama and Baby bear) come back home. (By the way, did any of you ever read the Berenstain Bear books to your kids? It was written by Stan and Jan Berenstain. Were those their real first names? It seems too cute. Anyway, I hated those books. The father bear was a total jerk–passive, clueless and useless. The mother always knew what was right and treated the father–in front of the little boy and girl bear, mind you–like shit. This was one dysfunctional family of bears. They could have used a good family therapist.
My kids seemed to like these books but I felt like it was necessary to point out to them that not all fathers were shiftless and stupid as this one was).
…But, back the original Bear family… I think they noticed that the door was open because Goldilocks had forgotten to shut it behind her. She’s a kid–what are you gonna do?
The Bears go into the kitchen and Papa bear notices that somebody has dipped into his porridge. He’s pissed. In a loud, scary, father-bear voice, he says: “Somebody’s been eating my porridge! Ditto, Mama bear: “And somebody’s been eating my porridge! Then Baby bear says, “And somebody’s been eating my porridge and it’s all gone!”
This is the first time–if some kid with an overactive super-ego hasn’t already noticed it–that there is some indication that an actual crime (first house-breaking, then porridge theft) has been committed here.
The bears go into the bed-room… Same thing: “Somebody’s been sleeping in my bed!” roars Papa bear. (Papa bear is definitely scary–subconsciously you begin to fear for Goldilocks’ personal safety). “And somebody’s been sleeping in my bed!” says Mama bear. “And somebody’s been sleeping in my bed!” says Baby bear and she’s there she is!
The bears gather around the bed. Goldilocks wakes up and sees, instead of a nice human mother and father dressed in lederhosen or whatever, a bunch of wild animals. She freaks out, jumps out of the bed, and runs out of the house.
…I think that was the end of the story. At least that’s what I remember.
But thinking back on it now, I have questions (which I didn’t have when I was reading this to my kids because it was a fairy-tale and, like I said, the important thing was the actual reading of the story—not the story itself):
1) What was Goldilocks doing in the forest in the first place? Was it a school day? Where here parents guilty of neglect? Were Goldilocks’ parents bond traders or doctors and paid no attention to her–let her wander into the forest by herself? Was the nanny so busy talking on her cell-phone that she didn’t even notice Goldie was gone?
2) Where were the bears when Goldie first broke into their house? Who makes porridge then just ambles into the woods? I mean, the porridge would have definitely congealed into a gluey, gray mass by the time they got back, right? And what is porridge anyway? Is it oatmeal? If it is, why don’t they fucking say so? Also, I assume that Goldie and the entire bear family were not allergic to gluten because oatmeal still has some gluten in it no matter what anybody says.
3) If the bears couldn’t eat their porridge, why didn’t they just chow down on Goldilocks? Are bears only part-time carnivores? I know they eat live salmon, because I’ve seen that in nature specials on TV. But has a bear ever eaten a human, like tigers sometimes do in India?
4) What is moral or lesson of this fairy-tale–if there is one?
I think there is something being communicated here about things being too much of one thing and too little of another, then being JUST RIGHT. Are we being encouraged to keep pursuing our bliss till we find perfection and reject anything that falls short of our desires?
Is Goldilocks just too picky and the lesson for children (and all of us) is that you should be glad to get whatever the good lord provides and not make a fuss if it isn’t perfect?
5) If Goldilocks is a housebreaker and porridge thief, why didn’t she pay for her crimes? Was being scared out of her wits by huge, wild beasts enough of punishment?
6) Did Goldilocks ever get home to where-ever she lived? Did anybody ever call Child-protective services and report their neglect?
7) What did the Bears do after Goldilocks took off? Did they just heat up the flaccid porridge in the micro-wave or did Mama Bear (remember, this is back in the day in the Black Forest) have to cook up another batch for everybody?
8) Did the Bears’ life change after this? Did they never leave the house again without locking their door. Did they feel violated and have PTSD? Did they seek treatment–or, since they were just dumb animals, did they just about their regular business without giving it a second thought?
All these questions remain unanswered. And here’s another one: Will I just tune into the Mets game later and never think about all this again? Who knows?