Once upon a time, there was an old husband and wife who made it to a ripe old age in the olden days when people died young and very few people actually made it to a ripe old age. And because they were old and had outlived all of their friends, they were very lonely and only really had each other to talk to.
Then the old woman went through menopause, and life in their household became very strained. She did not like anything she used to and she became very grumpy. She would cry and gnash her teeth for no good reason. Her husband began to drive her so crazy that she started to go shopping often or leave to visit their children who lived far far away in different kingdoms. She did not like to cook anymore. And all of a sudden other people’s children began to really make her angry because she said that their parents hadn’t taught them any manners and they were rude and obnoxious.
Her husband had become very grumpy also. Part of his problem was his wife’s mood, but another reason was because he was losing his hearing and couldn’t hear very well so, as lots of people who are hard of hearing do, he started yelling all the time but he didn’t really realize that he was doing it. He yelled at his wife and the clerks in stores and everyone that he talked to. It seems that his wife’s condition set off his own: manopause. Hair started to grow places where hair had not grown before, like on the end of his nose and out his ears, and his eyebrows got really bushy and kind of grew together so that he looked mean. He also became kind of short on patience. He became really messy and left his clothes all over the house and didn’t clean up after himself in the kitchen or bathroom. He had hurt his back a few years back but it really hadn’t healed well so he was slightly stooped over and walked all stiff and kind of like a monster.
One of the couple’s sons, who was a king in a far away kingdom, asked his mother to come and live in the castle with him and his wife thinking that it would make her feel better. The old woman went to the castle to live but just got crankier and crankier. Her eyes got all kind of crazy looking because she wasn’t sleeping very well, and she wore lipstick that was way too red! Her laugh became a real cackle. And that menopause thing was continuing to wreak havoc on her life and now in her son’s life and she was pretty cranky to everyone. Her husband was glad she had gone to visit one of their children because he said the house was finally back to normal.
There was this girl in the forest that kept singing at all the birds and dancing around the forest like she had been smoking some funny cigarettes. She kept talking about all these little short dudes that lived in the forest like she had to take care of them. She apparently didn’t pay attention to the fact that they lived out there in the forest to get away from people like her and she gave them all these really silly names. They thought she was off her rocker and were a little bit afraid of her so they answered to all the names she gave them, then finally got used to her craziness. Plus they liked that she cleaned their house and made dinner for them.
Well the house that those little guys lived in was not far down the valley from the castle where the old lady lived with her son’s family and all that singing at all hours of the day and night was driving her crazy! That girl kept singing at the birds and dancing with brooms out in the forest and making a ruckus every single day.
Finally the old lady took a big crabapple to give to the girl that would give her a tummy ache and stop all that singing and calling out to birds and other forest animals and other caterwauling.
It turned out that that crazy girl in the forest was related to her son’s wife and it turns out she was allergic to crabapples, so when she ate the one the woman took to her she got really sick instead of just getting a tummy ache and she came to stay at the palace with them. A lot of people from all over the country were coming to visit her at the castle to see if they could do anything to help get her better. One day the really cranky old woman decided to go back home because the castle was really busy with all those visitors. (One of these visitors claimed to be a witch and was super offended that she hadn’t gotten invited to a party at the palace. She ran around the castle in her big flowing dress and kept shouting that she was going to curse the king’s daughter. Everyone thinks that she was a lot older than she said and that she was going through menopause, too, because she was always really unreasonable and was always saying that she was putting curses on everyone, not to mention the strange flowing clothes she always wore and flapped all the time, probably because of her hot flashes.)
When the cranky old lady got home her husband was driving her even more crazy, so she packed his bag and told him he had to get out and go live in the stable and make a nice comfortable man-cave for himself out there where she couldn’t see his messes and wouldn’t nag at him to clean up or have good manners, and where she couldn’t hear all those noises a guy’s body makes that they laugh at, and all that stuff. So he did, but it didn’t have any windows and he liked a breeze at night when he was sleeping so he decided to take his sleeping bag and go sleep under the bridge because he would be outside but if it rained the bridge would protect him.
One morning a couple of kids were walking over the bridge in their wooden shoes and all that clunking woke him up and he was really cranky. He started yelling at them and really lost his temper and yelled that if they didn’t get out of there he would eat them! Of course he didn’t really mean it. He was just not a morning person. But those kids went back to the village and told everyone that there was a monster up on the mountain that lived under the bridge and ate little kids! The village elder decided that it must be something horrible and called it a troll and so everyone mostly stayed away from that bridge.
Of course that meant that people stopped coming up the mountainside and that meant that the old wife didn’t get any more visitors, and boy did that make her even more grumpy. She stopped dyeing and combing her hair and brushing her teeth and plucking her eyebrows and exfoliating her skin and so pretty quickly she looked like a real wreck! She did, however, continue to put that really bright red lipstick on. She also stopped wearing her glasses so her eyes got even more wild looking. Her laugh became a permanent cackle and since she used to smoke her voice turned all gravelly and deep. And she and her husband continued to yell at each other at the top of their lungs because her husband didn’t move back into the house and he wouldn’t wear the hearing aide he got from the doctor.
Sometimes people would sneak up to the top of the mountain and trespass to see if they could see the troll or hear the cackle of that old witch or get a look at her crazy eyes and red lips like curious people want to do, sometimes on a dare from their friends, but they never did see hide nor hair of either of them. They just heard all that yelling echoing off the mountain.
Now that people are living a really long time and lots of ladies are going through menopause, we have lots more wicked witches out there trying to shut up loud little kids by giving them apples, or sometimes brownies, and lots of trolls that scare little children by yelling at them, and lots of men who have built themselves their own man-caves to get away from their wives, or at the very least spend lots of time out in the garage. And for those people that still want to live dangerously and spy on the monsters: they don’t have to go up a mountainside anymore, they just have to go to a restaurant with an early bird special and spy on all the witches and trolls eating dinner together at 4 pm. I guess they have learned to get along as long as food is involved.
The moral of this story: Don’t mess with a menopausal woman because you’ll either end up with a stomach ache or living in your garage.
Copyright © 2011, Maura White. All rights reserved.