NORMAN — Children and well-seasoned folks tend to have a straightforward outlook on life. In other words, to them everything is either black or white, with no gray in sight.
On the other hand, somewhere after departing the innocence of childhood and the rush toward adulthood, the gray area is born. We may think embracing said gray area makes life better because we are free to do whatever we want, but in the process magic is lost.
The gray area is actually a great and self-inflicted burden we bear because we lost our innocence. We gave up the hopes and dreams of childhood for Reality. Suddenly, everything becomes complicated. This may explain the frequent answer given when our behavior is questioned and we answer “It’s complicated.”
Being human is complicated. Living our lives can be complicated. So, why add another load to the pile on our backs?
Fairy tales and all things magical are one of the great joys of childhood. The stories are filled with knights in shining armor, dragons, witches, good and evil, and yet the fairy tales are uncomplicated. When the stories run their course, they end with “and they lived happily ever after.”
Let’s look at one tale with our feet firmly planted in the “gray area.”
Snow White has a major teenage dust-up with the stepmother, also known as the drama queen with the talking mirror. Consequently, the queen wants to rip her heart out, literally. Snow White talks the huntsman charged with removing said heart to let her go. She ends up living a bucolic life with seven antisocial, grubby guys in their messy bachelor pad. Life is good. She cleans up the place, cooks and keeps house, and teaches the diminutive dudes the finer points of personal hygiene.
The witch finds Snow White and gives her a poisoned apple which the trusting girl promptly tastes. The dwarves find Snow White and believe she is dead. They put her in a glass coffin. Then a handsome prince comes along, falls in love with her and just has to kiss her. Snow White coughs up the apple “and they live happily ever after.”
Children love the story, but the “gray area burdened” adult has questions and comments.
What compels a beautiful girl to cheerfully clean up that filthy bachelor pad, then stay to cook and look after those wretched excuses of unattractive masculinity? They are paunchy, with no six-pack abs in sight. Does she have low self-esteem? Is there hanky-panky going on?
Then the witch comes knocking at the door. Didn’t anyone tell Snow White not to speak with strangers, let alone invite one into her home? What prompted her to trust that warty antithesis of feminine pulchritude and accept the apple? Did she wash the apple before taking a bite? Heaven knows how grubby the warty one’s hands were or what creepy things she may have touched. And the basket was probably dusty and dirty as well.
What were those dwarves thinking? If someone is dead, no matter how beautiful she may be, the idea of putting her in a glass coffin and watching her decay is sick. If they didn’t think she was dead, was there enough oxygen in the glass coffin? In which case, why didn’t the glass coffin fog up? Was it well-ventilated?
So, the prince comes along, sees the beautiful dead girl and just has to kiss her. He must not date very much. Hasn’t he heard of coffin-breath? What happened to the bite of apple stuck in her throat? Did she spit up the apple into his eye?
Then we come to the burning question. Did they get married before living happily ever after? Was there a pre-nup? After all, he is a prince.
The gray areas exist because so many folks do not have sense enough to hold on to the magic and the child within, and never let go.
Elizabeth is a freelance writer and author. Her novels The Dionysus Connection & The Marathon Man are available on amazon.com. Visit her website: www.elizabethcowan.com.