|Rumpelstiltskin (the PC version)
by James Finn Garner***
|Long ago in a kingdom far away, there lived a miller who was very economically disadvantaged. This miller shared his humble dwelling with his only daughter, an independent
young wommon named Esmerelda. Now, the miller was very ashamed of his poverty, rather than angry at the economic system that had marginalized him, and was always
searching for a way to get rich quick.
"If only I could get my daughter to marry a rich man," he mused, in a sexist and archaic way, "she'll be fulfilled and I'll never have to
work another day in my life." To this shabby end, he had an inspiration. He would start a rumor that his daughter was able to spin
common barnyard straw into pure gold. With this untruth, he would be able to attract the attention of many rich man and marry off
The rumor spread through the kingdom in a manner that just happened to be like wildfire and soon reached the prince. As greedy
and gullible as most men of his station, he believed the rumor and invited Esmerelda to his castle for a May Day festival. But when
she arrived, he had her thrown into a dungeon filled with straw and ordered her to spin it into gold.
Locked in the dungeon, fearing for her life, Esmerelda sat on the floor and wept. Never had the exploitativeness of the patriarchy been made so apparent to her. As she cried,
a diminutive man in a funny hat appeared in the dungeon.
"Why are you crying, my dear?" he asked.
Esmerelda was startled but answered him: "The prince has ordered me to spin all this straw into gold."
"But why are you crying?" he asked again.
"Because it can't be done. What are you, specially abled or something?"
The differently statured man laughed and said, "Dearie, you are thinking too much with the left side of your brain, you are. But you are in
luck. I will show you how to perform the task, yes, but first you must promise to give me what I want in return."
With no alternative, Esmerelda gave her ascent. To turn the straw into gold, they took it to a nearby farmers' cooperative, where it was
used to thatch an old roof. With a drier home, the farmers became healthier and more productive, and they brought forth a record harvest
of wheat for local consumption. The children of the kingdom grew strong and tall, went to a cooperative school, and gradually turned the kingdom into a model democracy with
no economic or sexual injustice and low infant mortality rates. For his part, the prince was captured by angry mob and stabbed to death with pitchforks outside the palace. As
new investment money poured in from all over the world, the farmers remembered Esmerelda's generous gift of straw and rewarded her with numerous chests of gold.
When all this was done, the diminutive man in the funny hat laughed and said, "That is how you turn straw into gold." Then his expression became menacing. "Now that I have
done my work, you must fulfill your part of the bargain. You must give me your first born child!"
Esmerelda shot back at him, "I don't have to negotiate with anyone who would interfere with my reproductive rights!"
The vertically challenged man was taken aback by the conviction in her voice. Deciding on a change in tactics, he said slyly, "Fair
enough, dearie. I'll let you out of the bargain if you can guess what my name is."
"All right," said Esmerelda. She paused a second, tapped her chin with her finger, and said, "Would your name be . . . Oh, I don't know,
maybe . . . Rumpelstiltskin?"
"AAAAAAKKKKK!" shrieked the man of nonstandard height. "But . . . but . . . How did you know?"
She replied, "You are still wearing your name badge from Little People's Empowerment Seminar."
Rumpelstiltskin screamed in anger and stamped his foot, at which point the earth cracked open and swallowed him up in a rush of
smoke and sulphur. With her gold, Esmerelda moved to California to open a birth-control clinic, where she showed other womyn how
not to be enslaved by their reproductive systems and lived to the end of her days as a fulfilled, dedicated single person.
|***Material (text) copyright
James Finn Garner. All