Erotica author puts the naughty bits back in fairy tales
Did you know that fairy tales used to be pretty X-rated? But then the Brothers Grimm et al deleted all the dirty parts — the party poopers! — to make them more family-friendly. Not unlike Anne Rice’s late ’80′s Sleeping Beauty trilogy, the new book In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales retells 15 stories with all the missing naughty bits filled in by author Mitzi Szereto’s imagination (and yes, Cinderella is about foot fetishism, natch). Each of the tales is prefaced with an introduction detailing its history and the sexual culture in which it was first written. (Now we just want to know which scholar is going to take it upon him- or herself to dig up the dirty originals…) It’s the perfect holiday gift for someone who’s been naughty and nice this year. Here’s an excerpt from Szereto’s retelling of “The Turnip” tale — we guarantee you’ll never look at this root vegetable in the same way again…
Farming was hard and, indeed, hungry work, and the aspiring farmer liked to chew a few of the seeds as he hoed and sowed, since many an hour remained before he could sit down to partake of his own supper. Despite the many hardships he endured, the impoverished brother believed that all his long hours of sweat and toil would one day prove worthwhile. And his dedication to the soil served him well. As the seed took hold, turnip leaves began to display themselves in abundance along his modest parcel, their thick roots burrowing happily downward into the dark rich earth. Only the farmer would have far more success than he had originally bargained for. There was one turnip in particular that grew and grew until it looked as if it would never stop growing. Although this should have provoked great joy in the poorer of the two brothers, it instead provoked great dismay. For this most vigorous of vegetables did not sprout from the ground as had its leafy companions, but from the farmer himself.
Indeed, it surged aggressively forth from beneath the pale paunch of his belly, its stout base surrounded by a dense cluster of leaves that shaded the equally pale flesh of his thighs. The turnip would become so heavy that this devoted tiller of the soil eventually found it difficult to walk, let alone hoe his plantings or climb a ladder or perform any of the normal tasks of daily life. Each time he sat down for a meal, it bumped the underside of the table, upsetting the weathered rectangle of pine along with everything that had been placed upon it. It got so that the farmer had to slide his chair so far back that he could barely reach his plate. Soon the wearing of trousers became an impossibility. He would be forced to either cut away the buttoned flaps at the front or go about trouserless, the latter option proving most distressing whenever a chill wind blew.
Perhaps the poor brother should not have eaten so many turnip seeds. For what other reason could there have been for this curious phenomenon? The root that sprang out from his overburdened groin eventually grew to be so enormous and cumbersome that, to simply move about on his land, the farmer had to place it atop a cart, which would then be drawn by two strong oxen. Even a trip into the village necessitated a harnessing of the beasts, a fact that probably explained his ever-increasing reluctance to undertake the short journey. The aggrieved fellow did not enjoy being a public spectacle and enduring the titters of tot and parent alike. Yet as the days passed and the size of his leafy burden increased, he began to wonder whether such a seeming misfortune could possibly be turned into an advantage. Although the farmer could likely sell the vegetable at market for a tidy sum, the prospect of making a gift of it to the King held more appeal, for His Majesty’s fondness for turnips was well known. Why, there could be no telling the rewards he might reap from so reverential a gesture!
So it was that early one morning the turnip farmer harnessed up the pair of exhausted oxen. After carefully situating his weighty impediment inside the wooden confines of the wobbly cart, they set creakily off for the palace. Doubtful as to whether he would even be granted an audience with the King—for indeed, he was only a humble man of the soil—he traveled with greater haste than might have been advisable under the circumstances, overturning the cart and its clumsy cargo several times along the way, to say nothing of causing considerable anxiety to the two oxen. To the farmer’s surprise and delight, the King agreed to receive him immediately, having been informed by his courtiers of the unusual nature of the call. Because the cart and its grunting beasts could not be allowed inside the palace, two of the brawniest courtiers were dispatched to assist the caller with his encumbrance.
“Many wondrous things have these eyes of ours borne witness to, but never such a monster as this!” squealed the King when the farmer and his turnip were presented to him. “How did this miracle come to pass?”
The farmer bowed his head reverently, not daring to meet the monarch’s astonished eyes—which gleamed with a brightness rather in excess of the occasion. “It is as much a miracle to His Majesty as it is to me,” he said deferentially in response.
With a nod, the King indicated for his nervous subject to carry on and the farmer took a deep breath in readiness to put forth his offer. “Unlike my elder brother, I am a poor soldier who has naught but a tiny plot of land upon which to make my meager living. Therefore I would be most honored if His Majesty would accept this turnip as a token of my humble obeisance.”
“Indeed,” replied the King, his moist, beef-colored lips quirking up in one corner. “Might we be allowed to touch it?”
“By all means!” effused the farmer, both flattered and embarrassed at the same time. “It is His Majesty’s to do with as he wishes.”
The King reached forward a be-ringed hand and traced with his fingertips the purple-tinged waxiness of the turnip’s surface, shuddering violently as he did so. Beads of moisture had broken out upon his brow, and he mopped them irritably away with the monogrammed kerchief he kept tucked beneath the cuff of his doublet. “This is truly a most lusty specimen,” he croaked, clearly overcome by a powerful emotion. The farmer flushed with pride and glanced modestly away toward the royal courtiers, all of whom stood silently by wearing knowing smirks upon their normally impassive faces. Suddenly the King grabbed hold of the proffered turnip, his great hands dwarfed by its massive bulk. He began to squeeze it all along its length, as if testing for quality. “We shall be most pleased to accept this fine gift as a token of your loyalty.”
“His Majesty honors me,” wept the grateful pauper, his breath inexplicably quickening at the touch of the King’s fingers. At that moment he would have bent to kiss the monarch’s feet in appreciation had not the impediment surging out from beneath his belly prevented him from doing so.
Arising from his throne, the King tapped the kneeling man’s head with his staff. “Thou shalt be impoverished no more.” And with that, he ordered his courtiers to arrange for his turnip-bearing subject to be moved into the palace posthaste.
– From “The Turnip” in In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales by Mitzi Szereto