Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Bluebeard's Room Is Open For Business
One of my mother's bedtime stories, besides "The Little Engine That Could", was "Bluebeard." She wasn't big on bedtime stories, believing much like Ari on Entourage, that silence is golden. She also believed most made up shit was pointless. Like most things we don't get much of, I had a longing for stories and that's where "Bluebeard" came in, one of the most punishing of the fairy tales. The premise is a great feminist fable, cautionary tale, and rescue fantasy all rolled into one. A girl marries a king without hesitation because he's in a pretty big fricking hurry. This point was pounded home by my mother -- if someone wants to do something fast, that person is hiding something! The king goes away and the girl is told not to go into a particular room in the castle. Let me tell you, my mother would say, everyone has that room. You best not go in. The girl went in, of course, and found all his ex-wives hanged. She can't hide the evidence that she's been in the room -- the blood of the wives can't be washed off the key to the room. The king comes home and knows, even before he sees the evidence. Retard sense, my mother would say. People, even stupid ones, know when something is different. She nearly ends up dead herself, but her brothers come to rescue her. My mother had no brothers, nor did I. My mother made up her own ending, You've messed up that bad, you're probably going to die. She'd end the story by saying, Sleep tight, Shelle. Sweet dreams.
I thought about that story a lot over the years since it had a few more layers than "The Little Engine That Could." Over the years I encountered a lot of those rooms and even developed a writing exercise based on finding a rattlesnake in a dresser drawer, the southern version of Bluebeard's room, nature red in tooth and claw. Some of the best fiction, I believe, comes out of encounters with this shadowy space. If we're not afraid of the dark, we can see all sorts of things about the future. The gothic writer V.C. Andrews once said in an interview that she knew she'd be afflicted with a wasting disease as an adult because she'd looked at her shadow as a child, and that shadow had crutches. Her shadow moved at its own pace, crippled and broken, even when she was still able to run from it.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Poets are the masters of the superior secret. Remember that when you write." James Dickey
3 parts vodka
1 part Cointreau
1 part lime juice
Serve over crushed ice.
Benedictions and Maledictions
Halloween suggestion -- pre- Halloween movie night selections: Carrie and The Shining