...Not the kind of wheel you fall asleep at...

The Talking Eggs

When I was little, my mom had a fat ragged book of folktales, each one written and illustrated by different people. I remember exactly how my fingertips felt tracing along the rough thick pages, how the turquoise spine was slightly curling at the top and crumbled off against my fingertips.

My favorite story was "The Talking Eggs." The accompanying illustration was a crudely drawn picture of an old hag, her body headless, her head resting in her lap so she could pick the lice out of her hair. Talk about kid-friendly.

In the story, there is of course a good girl and a bad girl, also, of course, named Blanche and Rose. They both are asked by the headless hag to cook her supper and then to scratch her back (which is ragged with pieces of glass all over). The good girl helps without another word. The next day, the hag sends her into a barn and tells her to take the eggs that say TAKE ME and, no matter how hard they beg, to leave alone the ones that say DON'T TAKE ME. The girl obeys her, and as she throws them over her shoulder on her way home, she is rewarded with riches and new clothes.

The bad girl, on the other hand, laughs at the hag's requests. Despite this fact, the next morning the hag still sends her out to the barn with the same warning: Take the eggs that say TAKE ME and don't touch the ones that say DON'T TAKE ME. The girl, being greedy, of course assumes that there must be something more valuable in the eggs saying DON'T TAKE ME, so she grabs them all and begins to toss them over her shoulder on her way home. But instead of jewels and clothes, she is chased down the road by whips and snakes, screaming.

Bad fucking ass.

Fairytales and folktales are seriously the best.

What is most interesting to me about these types of folktales in particular is how they get cleaned up over the years. In the more benign tale that I've linked to below, the whips are just toads and mosquitos. Instead of picking lice out of her hair, the woman braids it. No one has glass in their back. It's kind of like how we used to play on steel monkey bars over blacktop when we were little and every once in a while someone would break an arm or knock out a few teeth--it was just the natural course of things. And now everything is round edges, woodchips, and plastic. But even in its newest embodiment, the bizarre imagery that fascinated me as a child is all still there--arms fighting arms, disembodied heads headbutting other disembodied heads, axes fighting axes, talking eggs.

My brain feels like it's full of those eggs sometimes.

(Check out the cleaned up version HERE.)



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