I, Rumpelstiltskin, Would Like to Get a Few Things Off My Unusually Small Chest
I, Rumpelstiltskin, would like to clarify a few items in the matter of the so-called fairy tale that bears my name. I trust you are familiar with the heap of lies peddled by the Mssrs. Grimm. Based on their biased and one-sided account of my business with the erstwhile miller’s daughter, now Queen, you probably think you know all about Rumpelstiltskin.
Au contraire, mon frère. There is more to me than spinning straw into gold and stamping myself into hell. I may be small, but I contain multitudes.
I am frequently depicted as a pathetic villain. I have been labeled an anti-Semitic trope. A scurrilous Internet publication even compared me to a certain orange-skinned politician, simply because the first syllable of my glorious moniker rhymes with his short, stubby surname. The little man who wants a baby more than all the treasures of earth — jeepers, how frightful! Most injuriously, readers traditionally perceive the Queen as an innocent victim of my wiles, rather than a willing party to an oral agreement in which she bargained for increasingly large amounts of gold in exchange for a necklace, a ring, and a baby.
In fairness, the Queen didn’t ask to be dragged into this sordid mess any more than I did. It was her asshole father who bragged to the King that his daughter could spin straw into gold just to make himself feel important. I mean, who does that?
I did not have to get involved when I found the poor girl crying in a heap of straw. I thought it quite chivalrous of me to offer my services in exchange for two pieces of totally unremarkable jewelry, which, seriously, I could have made for myself. Each time I helped her, more straw! What was I supposed to do when I found her wailing a third time, surrounded by an even larger amount of straw and with only one night to spin the lot into fungible currency?
I may have a highly specialized skill, but R-U-M-P-E-L-S-T-I-L-T-S-K-I-N does not spell “handout.”
This unwitting ingenue had nothing left to give me in exchange for my labor. But she had a fortune to gain, because the thuggish King had promised to marry her if she succeeded in her task. Let the record show what went through her young mind when I proposed that she submit her firstborn child as payment:
“‘Who knows what may happen?’ thought the miller’s daughter, but she did not see any other way of getting out of the difficulty. So she promised the little man what he demanded . . .”
“Who knows what may happen?” Seriously, folks. This is basic contract law. If anyone deserved the benefit of the bargain, I think we all know who that little man is.
Imagine our genders were reversed. What then? If I were a petite woman assisting a hapless miller’s son, would my raw desire for a child be more palatable to you?
Perhaps you had a child the “normal” way. Perhaps you fell in love with a suitably-sized mate of the opposite gender and popped out a baby just like that. If so, lucky you. Nothing ever came easy for Rumpelstiltskin. (Nothing, that is, apart from the whole spinning-straw-into-gold thing.)
Here’s what makes me want to stamp my feet until I open a fresh hellmouth beneath me. Aside from her asshole father, Queen Fancypants got a pretty sweet deal. Need someone to spin straw into gold? Voila! Rumpelstiltskin at your service! Feeling buyer’s remorse? Fine. I gave her a sporting chance to keep the baby. Need extra time to think of an exotic name? Oh fine, I can’t stand tears, so I relented.
In the end, after her lame attempts to guess my name (Caspar? Really?), the only reason she got the better of me was by sending an underling to spy on me at my most vulnerable moment. There I was, singing a celebratory song on what I thought would be my last night alone before becoming father to a sweet-smelling wee one with his wittle soft head and his wittle tiny feetsies and itty-bitty toe-toes . . . *sob*
And about that song: “Today I bake; tomorrow I brew my beer; The next day I will bring the Queen’s child here.” Some have speculated that my lyrics imply cannibilistic intent — a preposterous reading. Am I not allowed a “humble brag” regarding my masterful baking and homebrew skills? I suspect readers conflate me with another one of Mssrs. Grimm’s tragically misunderstood villains, the witch in the house of spiced pastry. I happen to know that hag. She is allergic to the very glutinous material that comprises her sugary house of death. Poor thing was starving. Who can blame her for drooling at the arrival of two German children with their plump cheeks and their meaty legs bursting out of their lederhosen, like so much bratwurst?
After the collapse of my deal with the Queen I fell apart, by which I mean, I literally tore myself into two pieces. That was my “rock bottom.” I had to slither my bifurcated self to the next wood to find an enchantress who was open-minded enough to put me together again.
I would not be here today without my support group of smaller-than-average men with unusual names. Spindleshanks and Melchior are regulars. Caspar and Balthazar used to come, too, before they moved to Brooklyn.
Caspar always brought ball-shaped hors d’oeuvres to our group potlucks so that people would say, “Ooh, check out Caspar’s balls,” or “Caspar’s balls are hot and salty tonight!” It was very amusing.
Melchior and I have grown quite close. We’ve moved in together, actually.
Melchior would be a great dad. We aren’t rushing into anything. But if we do decide to adopt, this time I’ll get the bio mom’s word in writing.
In closing, I do not need your acceptance. I may be able to spin straw into gold, but I can’t spin not-love into love. Only Rumpelstiltskin has the love that Rumpelstiltskin needs. I merely ask that you consider my side of the story, “Rumpelstiltskin.”