This comic in the New Yorker got me thinking about how celiac/gluten intolerance and food allergies do sometimes take the “magic” out of things. Romance and mystique are good and all, but some of us need a little more certainty in our happily ever afters. (File that one under “sad but sprue.”) I was inspired to adapt a few fairy tales into more relatable bedtime stories for me and my celiac-having friends.
After a run-in with an offended fairy and an enchanted spindle, Sleeping Beauty slept for a hundred years in a thorn-covered castle. When a handsome prince broke through the brambles to find her, he fell in love instantly and awoke her with a kiss. Unfortunately, the princess had celiac disease, and the prince had just quaffed an entire flagon of ale to psych himself up. When she came to, she was so ill from their kiss that she never forgave him. “Eternal sleep,” she moaned, clutching her abdomen, “would at least have been painless.”
Jack & the Beanstalk
Having ditched gluten years before on doctor’s orders, and given up lactose when his cow stopped producing milk, Jack was finally free of the brain fog that had plagued him all his life. Plus, he knew the cost of a sack of rice flour. When a strange old man tried to bargain for his cow, Jack was far too clearheaded to believe in his “magic beans.” He sidestepped the man, sold Bessie at market price, and lived with his mother penniless but sensible the rest of his days.
Goldilocks & the Three Bears
A hungry little girl once came across an unlocked cottage where three bowls of porridge sat on the table: one hot, one cold, one warm. The warm bowl looked just right, but she couldn’t be sure that the cook had used gluten-free oats, and she didn’t want to risk getting glutened alone in the woods. And besides, she remembered how annoyed she always felt when people ate her expensive gluten-free snacks without asking first. So she went on her way, and the three bears to whom the cottage belonged smiled and waved as they crossed her path in the woods.
The princess was not about to kiss that slimy frog, no matter what he promised. It’s not that she didn’t believe he was a prince; she just knew he was lying about not eating the breadcrumbs children threw into the pond for him. “You may be a prince,” she said, “but if you’re not going to take my health seriously, you’re not charming enough for me.”
When the miller told the king his daughter could spin straw into gold, he never expected he’d have to prove it. Sadly for them both, the king locked the girl in a dungeon and commanded her to spin for her life. After a time, a small man appeared and asked the girl why she was crying. When she told him her tale, he shook his head and said, “Alas, love, I would help, but I got out of that line of work years ago. The straw is always cross-contaminated and it’s just not worth it.” He bade the miller’s daughter good night, and that’s pretty much the end of that story.
The Gingerbread Man
You tell me this one!