Grimm tales for our grim times

Once upon a time there was a woodcutter who could no longer afford to feed his children. “Off you go, tots,” he said, shoving the kids out the door.

“Okay, whatever,” said Hansel.  “We were going to run away anyway if we didn’t get a Wii for Christmas.”

He and his sister set off through the woods.

“We would  live in the woods,” Gretel said. “It’s going to take hours to get anywhere.”

“Well, Dad’s a woodcutter,” Hansel pointed out.

“We would  have a father who’s a woodcutter and not a hedge-fund manager.”

Presently they came upon a house made of straw. A sign over the door read:


“Yum!” said Hansel. “Bacon!”

“I’m with you,”  said Gretel, and she began to coo, “Little pig, little pig, let me come in.”

A window flew open and a porcine head appeared. “Not by the hair on my chinny – oh, it’s just some kids.”

The Big Bad Banker huffs and puffs

“Just some innocent children,” agreed Gretel, as two additional pigs appeared in the window. “Who were you expecting?”

“The Big Bad Banker,” squeaked the First Pig. “You see, we bought this house with a sub-prime mortgage, and then we fell behind with the payments and now we’re in foreclosure.”

“Bummer,” said Hansel. “Say, are you guys cold? You look a bit cold. Let me see if I can build you a fire.”

At this, all three pigs began to squeal agitatedly, their heads disappeared, and the window slammed shut.

“They may be pigs, but they’re not dumb,” Gretel remarked.

“They were dumb enough to buy a house made out of straw.”

As Hansel rubbed two sticks together, the Big Bad Banker loped into view. “Who are you?” he roared.

“Just some innocent children,” Gretel repeated. “Abandoned by our parents, sir, and down on our luck. And we’re ever so cold and hungry.”

“Well, push off,” said the Banker. “I’ve got a house to foreclose on.”

Hansel and Gretel pushed off. Deeper and deeper into the forest they went, until they came to a tower outside which a bill collector was lurking.

“What d’you mean, there’s no ladder?” he shouted.

“The witch sold it!” yelled a girl from the top of the tower. “To pay the electricity bill for my hair-dryer! You’ll get your money!”

“No, I’m from the gas company.  Let down your hair!”

“Sad,” said Hansel, as a thick golden braid thudded down the tower wall.

“Preventable,” said Gretel. “Long hair is so last year.”

They came next to a clearing in which a beautiful princess lay asleep with a thicket around her. Several princes were hanging about, debating whether to brave the briars.

“Hell, I can’t afford a girlfriend,” said a fair-haired prince, banging his sword disconsolately against a rock. “Not on unemployment benefit.”

“Maybe if we wake her up, she can earn some money,” said a dark-haired prince. “Actress? Model? Singer? Doesn’t she remind you of Rihanna?”

“Excuse me,” said Gretel. “Do you know the way out of these woods?”

“First left past the gingerbread cottage,” said the fair-haired prince, pointing his thumb over his shoulder.

They set off again. “Straw and now gingerbread,” said Hansel. “Doesn’t it ever rain in this part of the woods?”

“I blame global warming,” said Gretel.

A walk of a few minutes brought them to the baked-goods structure, which was decorated with white frosting, candied cherries, chocolate drops, and walnuts.

“They would have to add walnuts,” said Gretel.

A witch opened the door. “You’ll want to sample my gingerbread,” she coaxed. “Please, dearies, help yourselves.”

“We can’t, can we?” Gretel said. “Bloody nut allergy!”

“Just a tiny bite?” wheedled the witch.

“Can’t risk it,” Hansel said. “No health insurance.”

They turned left, came to a highway, and stuck out their thumbs. A truck driver stopped for them, and so did a Prius and an old Honda Civic. But Hansel and Gretel waved them on.

Finally a Mercedes stopped. Hansel and Gretel studied the Armani-suited man and his champagne-blonde wife. Definitely 1%.

“How would you like to adopt a couple of adorable low-maintenance children?” Gretel asked.

“Hey, honey, that’s an idea,” said the blonde. “Think of the money we’ll save on childbirth costs and baby clothes. And I won’t lose a single billable hour.”

“Any downsides?” asked the husband.

“We’re allergic to nuts,” Hansel admitted.

The door slammed, the car screeched away, and too late, the children saw the bumper-sticker.

“They would  be Gingrich supporters,” sighed Gretel.

All illustrations from Wikimedia Commons, in the public domain.

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