Saturday, November 10, 2012

Blanca Nieves and the Seven Drunks

We got our monthly free Redbox promo code the other night and took the opportunity to rent Snow White and the Huntsman. Even though I am not a hopeless romantic, I'm somewhat of a fairytale fanatic. Right off the bat there was an intense battle scene and I looked at my husband and said, "Wow, this obviously isn't your typical version of Snow White, is it?"

After he stared at me quizzically for entirely too long I said, "You do know the story of Snow White, don't you?"

Oh yeah, of course I know the story. It's the one about the little girl and the wolf that wants to eat her, right?

No baby, that's Little Red Riding Hood! I can't believe you don't know the story of Snow White... Keep watching, you'll like it.

A little bit later he looks at me as if he's just invented the light bulb and exclaims, "Oh I know! This is the one about the girl with the glass slipper who turns into a princess!"

No babe, that's Cinderella...

Pues... Isn't this the one with the Smurfs?!?

You've got to be fucking kidding me.

I ignore his random comments and questions for the rest of the movie because I get way too into this modern version of such a classical story. I was even able to ignore Kristen Stewart's downfalls. I can normally only watch her act if the movie is dubbed in Spanish. Her... ummm... technique... generally makes me want to slit my wrists with a paperclip. She actually did well in this role though. It was all angsty and what-not. There were all sorts of surprises but I think my favorite twist was the fact that the dwarfs were little Irish nuggets who had a penchant for moonshine and hallucinogenics.

After we were done watching, we continued our discussion about fairy tales. I couldn't figure out why these cuentas de adas were such foggy memories for him and it was driving me nuts. As always, I instantly jumped to the conclusion that this is cultural thing, but quickly realized that wasn't the case. Was it because I'm a girl? Is this a gender thing? Do boys not get into fairy tales? Is that why he doesn't remember? I start to dig.

Baby, where did you hear all these stories?

I watched them on video tapes.

Video tapes?? Didn't your mom read you bedtime stories?

We don't do that sort of thing in Mexico.

What sort of thing? Read books?

The dude couldn't stop laughing. He knew he sounded ridiculous.

Of course people do read books in Mexico, but my husband's family are not those people. Books cost money. A lot of money in Mexico. Libraries aren't easily accessible or even existent in many parts. In the US, we can run to library and check out a copy of whatever and know that our children have the ability to learn if we guide them and if they have that desire. That opportunity just doesn't exist for everyone. Again... something else we consider a right that is such a remarkable privilege.

I sat there for a moment and tried to think of what my life would be like, if I didn't have the memory of my mother reading me The Emperor's New Clothes. Or Noisy Nora. Or Tikki Tikki Tembo. Or The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Or Kristina Katarina and the Box. I could go on for hours. To this day day, I could probably read The Princess and the Pea every evening and never get tired of it. The thought of not having those childhood memories makes me sad.

These children's books shaped me into a person who values the written word. They gave me the freedom of imagination. Now that I think about it, these books, and the fact that my mother took the time to read them to me, plays a huge role in who I am today. It's a simple thing, really. It probably only took up 10 minutes of her time everyday. But look at the reward.

I loved school because I loved to read and because I loved school, I tried hard. Not just in school, but in life. I was determined to do well even in the worst of my days. And now, as an adult, I have a good work ethic. Even though circumstances and bad choices led me to never graduate from college, the fundamentals of learning have stuck with me throughout the years, and have allowed me to be successful in my career, even without a degree. It's the domino affect of my lifetime.

All because my mom read me Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs? That's confusing and deep and relevant in ways I may never understand.


  1. i admire you for everything you have done to keep your family together i hope to god i have the same fuerza que tu tubiste para mudarme para ciudad juarez.

  2. This poem was my motto when I was a young mother:

    I had a mother who read to me
    Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea.
    Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth;
    "Blackbirds" stowed in the hold beneath.
    I had a Mother who read me lays
    Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
    Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
    Which every boy has a right to know.
    I had a Mother who read me tales
    Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
    True to his trust till his tragic death,
    Faithfulness lent with his final breath.
    I had a Mother who read me the things
    That wholesome life to the boy heart brings-
    Stories that stir with an upward touch.
    Oh, that each mother of boys were such!
    You may have tangible wealth untold;
    Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
    Richer than I you can never be --
    I had a Mother who read to me.

    - Strickland Gillilan