Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Free Excerpt from Father Knows Nothing: Hansel & Gretel

Today is the birthday of Wilhelm Grimm (1786). He was the younger Grimm brother who produced the immortal "Grimm's Fairy Tales". Anyone who has read "Father Knows Nothing" knows that my parents used to love to tell me these sick, twisted children's stories. This is my favorite excerpt and one of my favorite stories about my dad...

My father loved the story of Hansel and Gretel. He had a boy and a girl at the time (another boy would follow a few years later), so he thought it was a perfect story to tell us. In case you haven’t heard it in a while, it goes like this…

An evil stepmother convinces her husband to leave his children in the woods to die. The father decides to give them a fighting chance at survival, by handing them each a piece of bread. He tells them to leave a trail so they can find their way home. Of course, animals eat the bread, and end all hope for the little boy and girl. Hansel & Gretel become hopelessly lost, and get captured by a cannibal witch, who tries to eat them after fattening them up. They escape by killing her, and somehow find their way home. The happy ending is that the stepmother is dead when they get there.

Beautiful story, no? My father told it to us all the time.

One night my sister and I were fighting, and so he gave us each a piece of rye bread, led us out to the car, and told us he was driving us out in the forest.

“No Dad! No!” we cried. “Please don’t do this. We promise to behave. We promise.”

“You’ve got nothing to worry about. Just leave a rye bread trail.”

“But Dad! The animals will eat the bread!”

We couldn’t believe he was really doing it to us, but we were in a car, and we were clearly going somewhere.

“You’ll never find your way home if you don’t start tossing the rye bread,” he said to us, while looking in the rearview mirror.

I pleaded some more while Cindy rolled down the window and started tossing.

He pulled into a convenience store parking lot, walked inside and bought some cigarettes, got back into the car and drove us home. He had a huge grin on his face when he saw how relieved we were to come back home.

“Will you be fighting any more tonight?” he asked.

“No Dad,” we both promised.

German lesson learned.