Let’s Talk About Fairytales #6: Cowlick Ricky

Hello, everyone! I’m bringing back the only section that matters: the “how did this get written?” / fairytale appreciation section. I have not written a post about fairytales in almost three years! What was I doing that was more important? School? Adulthood? Work? As Scarlett O’Hara would say, “Fiddle-dee-dee!” All of that pales in comparison to the importance of dissecting French fairytales. And yes, if you were wondering, I am reading Gone With The Wind and it is a saga and I will write a long post chronicling my feelings about it as soon as I finish (whenever that will be!). But for now, let’s settle in for a heartwarming tale about an ugly man and a beautiful woman and see what lessons we might learn.

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We begin with a tale as old as time: a queen giving birth to her long-awaited child. Unlike other royal children, however, this baby was a disappointment from Day 1.

He was a lumpy baby, with a cowlick, and his mother named him Cowlick Ricky

If you’re like me, many things in this sentence will give you pause. Like the adjective “lumpy” to describe a baby. What is a lumpy baby? Are they covered with sores or lesions? Are they actually a bag of sugar dressed in baby clothes? How does a baby have a cowlick? And why would any mother name her child Ricky?

It’s all very confusing. Luckily, the book clears up one of these mysteries by defining the word “cowlick”  to the readers. Thanks, book! That was definitely at the top of my list of most pressing questions.

Fortunately for our dear Cowlick Ricky, the fairies took note of his horrible ugliness and gave him the gifts of intelligence, wit, and charm, and even went as far as to give him the power to make someone else intelligent, too. Now that seems very prescient of them, doesn’t it? But why are these traits up to the fairies anyway? I’ve always wondered about the technicalities of fairy-given traits. How do they work with genetic traits? Do only rich people get to customize their babies? Why didn’t they change his name to something better than Cowlick Ricky?

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Even though Ricky was given a stacked hand in terms of personality traits, he’s still ugly as hell, and no one, not even his mother, can forget it. Honestly, who cares if he’s lumpy and has a cowlick? He’s being raised to be a king in a world where nothing is certain but death. All of his peasants are going to be grateful for his lumpiness once his years of statesmanship pay off and his wise decisions actually benefit their society. Unfortunately, neither the queen nor the people care about Cowlick Ricky’s future career as a king. All they want is a hot politician.

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Kind of like now

In a neighboring kingdom, another queen has twin girls and is shocked to discover that one of them is beautiful and the other one is ugly! The fortune fairy predicts that the “hot” one will be stupid, and the “not” one will be intelligent. When the mother asks if she can even out the intelligence/beauty traits a little more in each girl, the fairy just scoffs.

“I’m not CRISPR!” she shouted indigantly, before soothing the queen with the promise that the “hot” girl will be able to make someone just as pretty as she is.

The ugly twin is conveniently forgotten and left to her misery.

As the girl’s grew, one became stupider and the other became uglier. When in company, the bright but ugly sister was more sought after than the pretty one. The pretty one spoke so stupidly she either hurt people’s feelings or bored them silly. She was forever knocking things over with her clumsy feet and hands.

This paragraph just makes me sad. I feel terrible for this poor Frankenstein girl who is so stupid that she can only lumber about, knocking vases off of tables, and babbling crudely to courtiers. And then there’s her ugly sister, who knows deep inside that the only reason she’s getting any attention is because her beautiful sister is basically a zombie. What an unhappy household this must be.

As luck would have it, Frankensister is walking in the woods alone (how could they let her go? What if she falls off a cliff?) when she stumbles upon Cowlick Ricky. Even though she’s dumber than a rock, she can still tell that he’s ugly. But it was no coincidence at all, as our ugly friend Cowlick Rick (I like it better that way) had fallen in love wither her portrait and had been hoping to meet her. I’m sure their meeting will go swimmingly.

In their short conversation, Cowlick Rick soon learns that this beautiful princess has a sack of nails in place of her brain. He soon devises a clever bargain. He’ll give the princess his gift of intelligence if she will agree to marry him. But the princess, stupid as she is, feels repulsed by his ugliness, and hesitates. So they make a deal. He’ll gift her the intelligence and in a year, she will marry him. Seems perfect, no?

The poor girl was so stupid she imagined that anything a year off would never truly happen.

Is this stupidity, or a necessary defense mechanism against the cruelty of an unpredictable and shifting world? You decide.

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She gave her promise, and felt her whole mind spin. Suddenly, she could think. She could say witty things, clear things, wise things, endearing things, all in the most appropriate words.

This poor girl. All this time, she hasn’t been able to think. What has been going on in her brain? Is there just dust and cobwebs and little termites scuttling around? I’m glad that she finally has the ability to speak clearly, but I don’t think Cowlick Rick realizes his mistake. By giving this beautiful woman the gift of intelligence, he’s created the world’s most dangerous woman. A fairy tale Scarlett O’Hara…if you will…

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Let us all cower in fear of her wrath!

Now that the “hot” one can speak in complete sentences, her ugly sis better run! Even the king and queen are asking her advice for affairs of state. It does make me wonder though, because intelligence is not the same as wisdom or judgment. There are a lot of intelligent people that I know that I would not trust to bake a cake, not to mention run a country. But in the land of fairytales, intelligence and beauty are the only two traits worth having, so we must assume that our Frankensister has transformed into a hot King Solomon.

Even the most intelligent of princesses must marry, so her father implores her to pick a husband from her array of suitors. She really is Scarlett O’Hara. Will she, too, marry Frank Kennedy to save Tara?

The princess decides to walk in the woods to think on the matter. She has become a Transcendentalist, communing with nature. Soon she will write a tract about her epiphany-filled woodland existence.

The book makes sure to explain this to us.

The more intelligent one is, the more one weighs the reasons for and against doing anything. That’s why intelligent folks find it hard to make decisions.

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Once in the forest, her transcendental deliberation is disturbed by an enormous gathering of chefs and servants preparing for a massive feast. The servants inform her that they’re preparing for Cowlick Rick’s wedding feast tomorrow. While I appreciate Cowlick’s bohemian sensibilities (forest weddings are so in these days), don’t you think it would have been polite to remind his bride about her own wedding? How was the princess supposed to remember all the decisions she made when she was stupid?

Rick comes to clear up the confusion.

“Princess, you make me the happiest man alive. I’ve come to keep my promise. And  I suppose, you, too have come to keep your’s.”

“Frankly, no,” said the princess. “To a fool, I might make a kinder answer. But with you, I can only be honest. I’m not used to the idea of marrying you.”

“You amaze me,” said Ricky.

“A fool would argue that a princess must keep her promise,” said the princess. “But your intelligence is above such vulgar, common thinking. Remember, a fool made you a promise. But I am no longer that fool, so I’m not bound by the promise made by that fool.”

See? Didn’t I tell you that Rick had created the most dangerous weapon known to mankind? Not only is she hot, but she can reason, too! Lord, save us all.

Frankensister has created a revolutionary new defense that will change the legal system for ever. Stupid people can’t be held responsible for their actions, because, well, they’re stupid! Why didn’t we think of this before?

Ricky has far more experience at cleverness, so he responds in kind.

“Madam, you say that a fool would have the right to insist that you keep your word. Surely a wise man, too, has the right to use that argument when the happiness of his whole life is at stake. For why should the stupid be better off than the wise?

Why indeed? Her stupidity does not excuse her from marrying an ugly man, okay?! And if that’s what it all comes down to, which it does, then Ricky is allowed to use his wits to convince her otherwise.

The princess admits that the only part of Ricky she dislikes is his lumpiness and Ricky reminds her that his lumpiness and cowlick can be magicked away by her special gift. Stunned by his revelation, she uses her power to make him handsome, and suddenly, all of their problems disappear. Finally, readers, we get the couple we need and deserve. Two beautiful and intelligent people who love each other. What a happy ending.

They were married the next day. A great and glorious feast was held in the forest, just as clever Cowlick Ricky has foreseen.

An ominous last sentence, for sure. Had Cowlick Ricky been planning this scheme since infancy? Was it all an elaborate plot to get back at the people (like his mother!) who insulted him for his lumpiness? Surely he had more important things going on his life than the need to prove his superiority by duping Frankensister into marrying him and conning her out of her magic power?

If Ricky really only cared about marrying a smart person, he would have married Frankensister’s ugly twin. But in the end, all he really cared about was marrying a hottie, and if he didn’t have his magical gift, he probably would have just put a pacifier in her mouth and called it a done deal. Don’t let this fairytale fool you into thinking that these people actually cared about intelligence because they didn’t. As ever, fairytales exist to show us the foibles of the rich and powerful and their obsession with wealth and beauty.

What have we learned from this story, friends?

  1. Appearances DO matter! It doesn’t matter if you’re smart or intelligent or kind. Beauty is everything and everyone should aspire to be beautiful
  2. You SHOULD try to change the fundamental parts of your significant other to please yourself
  3. Tricking stupid people is GOOD if they’re hot and you get to marry them
  4. Forest weddings are TASTEFUL!

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