The Time I Met A Fairy Tale


I am about to tell you a tale.

It is up to you to decide what to make of it.

Everything in this story is true.

And for the past seventeen years there have been moments where I have questioned the validity of my memory. Thankfully, it has remained the same after all of these long years. However, it does not make the story any less strange:

When I was nineteen I worked as a hostess at a little steak restaurant in town. The owners were a really cool laid-back couple in their thirties. Every girl that worked in the joint had a crush on the owner. We’ll just call him Derek*. He had long dark wavy hair that caressed the collar of his button-down cowboy shirt (the type of buttons that snap… And unsnap quickly, if you get my drift), a Brad Pitt smile, brown gleaming eyes, the sexiest whisper of a voice, and he wore his jeans well. Sorry for all of the sordid details. I wanted to get the details right for the story’s sake, of course.

Well, actually, Derek had nothing to do with the story, but I thought it would be fun to throw him in. For my your dreams tonight. It will make the story I am telling a little less disturbing.

You’re welcome.

So, there I was. At the hostess counter. The restaurant was extremely busy. The bar was full. We were operating on a short staff. We had an hour and a half wait. And us two hostesses were being swarmed with customers. Hungry customers, who after ten minutes into their hour and a half wait, would be coming up to us demanding to know where they were on the list. This wouldn’t be so bad if just one person did it, but it seemed that many folks parading around under the title of “adult” were terrible at time management.

And would come up every ten minutes to check our magic list. Because time must work differently on it.

This is why we always gave a wait time longer than we expected it to be. And, beside each name, the time we had given them to expect to wait was written.

That’s a little hostess trick I’m givin’ ya. And my second gift in this post.

Again, you’re welcome.

I might have also been slightly irritated that the white crayon I had been whittling with a steak knife had had to be put away to deal with the crowd. And also why today, there is one less whittler and one less crayon sculpture in the world.

This is where my gifts to you end.

Somehow, in the midst of all of this, in through the crowd, stalked a short little old man.

He is the center of our story.

He was as real as you and me.

He had a long white beard. A face full of leathered wrinkles. A large hawk nose. Beady little eyes. And a scowl larger than the whole of his entire body.

He also could not have been taller than five feet. In my memory he was as tall as the bottom of my rib cage, but that seems entirely impossible. And so for you I say, “under five feet.” In my head I say, “as tall as my rib cage.” You may choose to believe whichever you choose. It is just a small part of the story. He was not a “little person” as we know them today. He was just a very short…Very grumpy…Very odd little old imp man.

He came up to the hostess booth and asked me how long the wait would be. I asked him if he was by himself (this is because parties of one are quicker to seat). He was.

I told him his wait would be an hour.

Then I asked him for his name.

And he told me.

And I stared at him.

I asked him again.

And he told me.

And I laughed.

I could not believe it. It was the best joke of the night.

The little old man’s cheeks flushed red with anger. In my memory, he stomped his wee feet. But this is the part I think I might have exaggerated. For this story’s sake, though, we will say he stomped his feet in a mad little rage. He asked me why I was laughing.

And this is what I said, “Your name. Why, that can’t possibly be your name!”

He just stared at me. And stared at me. Until I picked up my pen.

“Okay. How do you spell that?” I inquired. It was at this point I began to suspect he was quite serious. And it was at this point I began to wonder if the air in the restaurant had been drugged.

“R-U-M-P-E-L-S-T-I-L-T-S-K-I-N,” he sharply spelled out, all the while giving me a stare that would have shriveled straw.

“Okay, Rumpelstiltskin. I will call you when your table is ready.”

The little old man stalked off towards the bar.

Our hostess desk continued to be bombarded. And I put the strange man out of my head for a time.

Until his name was the next to he called.

“Rumplestiltskin, your table is ready.”

No answer.

Snickers from the impatient crowd.

Two more times I called his name and two more times there was no answer.

For the last time, I said, “Final call for Rumplestiltskin. Rumplestiltskin, this is your final call.”

I never imagined that those words would be uttered from my lips.

I really never imagined any of the situation would have have occurred to me.

And that it would indeed be not an imagination.

Rumplestiltskin never did answer my call.

Maybe he had heard we had a magic list at that hostess desk and he was disappointed to learn the truth of it.

I think he left, because he was upset that he told me his name.

Either that, or the fact, that I cannot spin straw.

But it is definitely one of those two.

There really is no other explanation.

My having laughed at the poor man being entirely out of the mix.


* Derek is the only part of this story that is made up. The name, that is. The man, well, he was oh so real.

Sweet dreams.

P.S. This absurd and 100% true account was written for The Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge: Power Of Names.



When I think of aging. Of age. Of the number of years in which I have opened my eyes each morning, it seems but just a brief moment. As if all my life could be catalogued before I even blink my eyes. Well, okay, not blink my eyes. But hold them closed long enough to indulge in a quick game of hide in seek. Which is what time really is after all, a game of hide and seek.

When I was a child of around four years old, I remember laying outside on a big blanket and looking up at the stars. I remember feeling weary. I remember this profound thought ran through my head. “This is my last time here. I am so tired. So old. I cannot do this again.”

That same year, it felt as though each morning I would wake up and it would feel as if all of the things that had happened the day before to me had actually happened to someone else. It was my young mind trying to grasp the definition of a memory. So, each night I would lay in my bed and I would say to myself, “Good night, Jenni. I’ll miss you. You’ll be a new Jenni in the morning.”

I can see your face.

It looks like my husband’s face when I told him my little saying. To paraphrase my husband, “that is the creepiest thing I have ever heard.”

But I think my child self had it right. We are all just made up of the memories we have made. And each day, a new one is added to the mixture in our heads. It makes sense to me that we are ever evolving. Ever changing. And each morning when we wake up, we are a slightly different person than the day before.

Time touches us all.

It is shown in the new lines on our faces. The spots on our hands. The inches added and then deducted to our height. The length of our hair.


Four year old Jenni had it right in her very slightly neurotic view of time.

And thirty six year old Jenni has to smile at that.

Well, that, and how much fun it is to sometimes say out loud.

In the dark.

While my husband is just shutting his eyes.

“Good night Jenni. I’ll miss you. You’ll be a new Jenni in the morning.”

And maybe I’ll say it like a small child.

And maybe in a high pitched whisper.

And then I will shut my eyes and go to sleep.


Because I know my husband is laying in the dark. Eyes wide open.

Having the time of his life.

At least that’s what the old Jenni told me.


* This post was written in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge, “Golden Years.”



I was thinking the other night of stories. As I often do. Alone in the dark. Mind racing.

The night was dominated by Silence. It became a casual audience to the rustling of my inner thoughts.

And I remembered a story my mother once told me of helping an old lady with her groceries. But the thing with stories, is there is often more than one variation of the same happenstance. I happened to be there for this story. In my version, seen from the eyes of a child, I remember my mother hopping out of the car. This was after one our trips to get my sister her bee shots. I am sure we still had the remains of chocolate croissants on our breath.

I vaguely remember there being an elderly lady. And something happened that had my mother and grandmother crying with laughter all of the way home. I believe my mother was helping the older woman with her groceries. The lady did not want help. My mother insisted. When she went to give the woman back her groceries, she handed them to her unevenly weighted. The poor old lady fell over. I am sure she appreciated the help. As a child, I just remember it being scary. My mother jumping out of the car. The unfamiliar neighborhoods. The energy of the city. A living breathing terrifying thing to a country girl.

As I lay awake, I thought, I will just have to ask my grandmother her side of the story. I had heard it before. But I loved to hear her tell it, because it always invoked big gales of laughter.

And then I remembered that I could not ask my grandma. The time for questions has passed. The big weight of the words “never again” settled down into my chest at the same moment my heart realized what was happening and bellowed out the word, “OH.” But it felt like “OHHHHHHHHHHH.”

When your heart speaks, you must listen. It is usually the mute organ in all of your orchestra of feelings. Which is funny if you stop to think about it, because it is the only organ we ever really hear. The constant, “bumping” a distant reminder of its baritone of melody.

It rarely speaks. It aches. It twinges. It might fall or drop. It might even break. But speaking is rare. It is not the most articulate of body parts. Usually just making one syllable words. Its favorites being, “Why?” “No.” “Yes.” “Stay.” “Go.” “Please.” But tonight it simply said, “Oh!” It was surprised. And then it wasn’t. All the words I was feeling wrapped up into those two letters.

My body quivered with the weight of the words in the dark. The echo of my heart’s last cry still vibrating through my body. Through my soul. My heart began to “bump” once more. But it was with a sadness. A funeral drum.

“Oh.” My soul simply said. “Oh.”

My tears answered their chorus as they ran down my cheeks and hit my pillow. Pit. Pat. Pit. Pat. They performed a solo symphony of their own.

Silence bowed and stayed heavily by my side through the stillness of the night. Only moving to rustle the covers. Or hum with the fan in the evening air.

My broken choir lay in a wet weeping mess.

Each instrument felt broken. Ruined. The strings severed. The keys twisted. This particular song would never be played again. At least in the chord of memory that had shattered my being that night.

Yet Silence still quietly applauded. For its favorite tune is sadness. It is when Itself can actually be heard.

Only the broken hearted can hear it.

And learn to call its name.



* This was written in response to The Daily Posts Weekly Writing Prompt, “The Sound of Silence.”

Say What?!

I was at the supermarket. Where I seem to be. Every day. Because I inevitably forgot to pick up something for dinner. On this particular trip, I needed a cart. I guess I had forgotten several somethings.


It had been raining earlier, so I had slipped on my rain boots from Costco with my chunky white sweater and some skinny jeans. It was definitely not my most exciting outfit. But, again, it wasn’t the most exciting day.

As I was battling two shopping carts that were stuck together, a rugged man of medium build peered over the edge of the small dividing wall at me. He was one of those fellows that made it impossible to tell his age. Life had either been hard on him or good, depending on his circumstances. He was missing all of his back teeth. In the middle of November, he still had a healthy tan and the skin around his eyes crinkled as he grinned at me. His dirty-blonde hair, made more dirty-blonde with actual dirt, was sticking up wildly in all directions.

He smiled at me. His blue eyes twinkled. His face turned to layers of leather. He opened his mouth, and with the utmost sincerity, he said to me, “Nice boobs.”

I stopped battling the shopping carts to stare at him. I couldn’t believe he would be so bold.

Actually, I could.

But, I couldn’t believe he was talking to me. It is the sad truth that after nursing two children and growing older, there would be many women whose line that would still apply to.

Me, not being one of them.

My chance of this applying to me is further reduced by 4,896,401 just by residing in Southern California.

Let’s just say, my odds weren’t good.

So, I stood there with my mouth open in shock as all around me the real deal that this phrase would apply to grabbed their carts and went on their way. Wait! Did I just say, “Real Deal”? Cross that out. And insert, well…insertions .

“What?!” I finally managed to gasp.

He grinned wider. I feared for his face. He repeated himself, “Nice boobs!”

I looked down at my chest. Then I looked up at him. Then down at my chest. This was repeated an embarrassing amount of times. I’m quick.

“Excuse me?!” I tried to reply indignantly. But in my head, I was rejoicing in a smack-me-in-the-face-what-kind-of-liberal-woman-am-I-that-this-would-flatter-me kind of way.

“Are you gardenin’ or somethin’? Gettin’ reddy to do some plantin’? Where’d ya get dem boobs? They’re the best I’ve seen.”

I realized that this man must have a screw loose. What the heck did my boobs have to do with planting and gardening? And what did he mean, where did I get them? In an attempt to not be even more graphic or vulgar, let me just say, dem boobs I got have never been mistaken as ones that have been purchased.

And best he’s seen?!?! Where has this man been living? Were we at the same grocery store? I had seen two better examples walk by in the two minutes I had spent standing there talking to him.

I shook my head sadly at the deranged man, replied a quick, “No.” Then I grabbed my cart and made my way into the store.

As I was wandering the aisles, my mind was spinning. I kept replaying the conversation in my head. Squeak. Who the heck did he think he was talking to? Squeak. What kind of man goes around saying things like that to women? Squeak.

Ugh! I looked down at my boots. I was trying to think. They were interrupting my thoughts with their annoying squeaky rubber.

My boots!

My squeaky beautiful boots.

My boots that would be perfect for wearing…while gardenin’…and plantin’!

I felt a rush of… Oh, I don’t know what. Relief that my town was not being invaded by vulgar men. That the rugged man just had a keen fashion sense and a love for nature. Happy that I had gotten to wear my boots on a rainy day.

I definitely did not feel sad. Nope. Not at all.

I was definitely not sad to have not received an inappropriate compliment.

Not. At. All.



* This post was written in response to The Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge. It is a 100% sad, but true account of my trip to the grocery store.

“It’s The Little Things” will run on Saturday and then resume its usual Thursday time slot next week. I needed to get this story in by Friday. Thanks for indulging me! ; )

* P.S. I shared this on The Pleated Poppy!