Let’s kick things off with a tale that has it all: evil werewolves, potty humor, strip teases, and grandmothers! If you’re judging based on the title, you may think that “The Story of Grandmother” sounds like a mature, conservative story (re: lame). But whoever was in charge of naming this was pulling a fast one on us: “The Story of Grandmother” is a lot of things, but “conservative” is not one of them.
Where it’s from: No original author is known. Folklorists credit medieval French peasants.
Why you’ll love this tale: This is a lessor-known ancestor of the “Little Red Riding Hood” story. But with a smidge more nudity. And a dash of cannibalism.
A girl embarks on a quest to deliver bread and milk to her grandmother, who resides deep in a wolf-infested forest. As grandmothers do.
She encounters a wolf at the crossroads of The Path of Needles and The Path of Pins. Which sounds like a magical spot, indeed.
The wolf asks the girl where she is going. Having no sense of “stranger danger,” the girl offers the predator turn-by-turn directions to grandmother’s house. The wolf dashes ahead of her, taking The Path of Pins. The girl meanders her way down The Path of Needles. She demonstrates her Mensa-like intelligence by picking up stray needles along the way, just for the fun of it.
The wolf reaches the house first and wastes no time in slaughtering grandmother. Like a good carnivore, he enjoys a bit of the carcass then stores the “leftovers” on the pantry shelf because meal planning is smart.
Some time later, our unsuspecting hero arrives at the crime scene. The wolf (who now self-identifies as “grandmother”) offers the girl a snack of wine and sausage (aka: blood and grandmother meat). The girl enjoys the feast and is blissfully unaware that she’s consuming her grandmother.
The resident cat disapproves of cannibalism, and it calls the girl a “slut.” I’m not sure why, exactly. Doesn’t seem relevant to me. But anyway, the cat clearly knows something we don’t. Because at this point, things get awkwardly pornographic.
Now that snack time is over, grandmother suggests spending some quality time together. In bed. Naked.
The girl seems all too comfortable with this idea, as evidenced by the strip-tease routine that she performs. She asks where she should put each article of clothing (because that is the appropriate question to ask at this juncture) and Grandmother tells her to throw them all into the fire. This must’ve been before closet space was invented.
Now that she’s stark naked and in a terribly compromising position, the girl has a startling revelation: Grandmothers do not have fur!
The girl is understandably grossed-out: she thought she was naked with her grandmother, not some random animal. She’s not looking for a serious relationship right now, so the girl plans to extricate herself from this mildly awkward (re: rape-y) situation.
To do this, the girl tells the wolf that she has to go to the bathroom. When the wolf asks her to “do it in the bed” (yikes) the girl clarifies that she has to go. Like, really go.
Fortunately for all of us, the wolf isn’t into that sort of thing. He lets her go outside to do her business, but first he ties a woolen thread around her ankle. She couldn’t possibly escape its bonds.
But once she’s outside and out of sight, the girl unties the thread! *cue victory music*
Meanwhile, the wolf (who is still in the house, holding the thread-shackle through the window) doesn’t realize that our heroine has escaped. He calls out to her, demanding to know if she has finished yet .
Scholarly Note: in some translations, he bellows “are you making cables?” and in others, he asks if she’s “doing a load.” Both are very seductive and classy things to say to a love interest, but I think the “cables” one is particularly charming.
Also, this whole scene seems incredibly short-sighted for the wolf. Up to this point, he seemed pretty crafty (at least in comparison to the other dolts in this story). Though in the wolf’s defense, who would’ve thought that this girl could untie a thread all by herself? Certainly not me.
And thus the story ends. The wolf is left alone and scorned.
And our heroine presumably scurries home naked.
1.) The girl stands apart from other European “Little Red Riding Hoods” because she rescues herself. In more popular versions of “Little Red Riding Hood,” she is either rescued by a huntsman (Grimm Brothers: 19th century Germany) or just straight-up dies in the end (Charles Perrault: 17th century France).
2.) Some translations call the wolf “Bzou,” or werewolf (a creature known to be a “real” danger back then). This story would’ve been popular in medieval networks for sure. People were legitimately afraid of those things.
3.) There is an Italian version of this story (called “The False Grandmother”), where the villain is an ogress. She prepares a meal of “beans” and “fritters,” made from grandmother’s teeth and ears. Sounds like offal meat was trendy then, too.
If you are ever taken hostage by a forest animal, remember this life-saving tip: stay calm, identify an escape route, and tell it that you have to crap.
Was this girl accustomed to getting naked with grandmother?
This Line is BANANAS:
“Phooey! You’re a slut if you eat the flesh and drink the blood of granny.”
Enjoy this tale with a loaf of hot bread and a glass of milk. Adventurous foodies should try the sausage and wine.
(THE GIRL). This is an easy DIY project for any skill level! Remember that the girl “doesn’t need clothes,” according to grandmother/wolf, so just disrobe and call it a day! This attention-grabbing costume is easy to make and great for cosplay on a budget.
I love this tale! I shall award it 4 cables out of 5 cables.
Very Extra Special Bonus Treat:
To celebrate this first ever post, I made you this zippy animated video for your scholarly viewing pleasure. Enjoy!