THE TRADITIONAL FAËRY TALE OF LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD.

“Oh, please don’t make me wear the hood, Grandmother!” she cried piteously.

Once upon a time there was a little girl who was terribly embarrassed by her family. Her late father had been the leader of a motorcycle gang called the Riding Hoods; and because his little girl always blushed when the subject was mentioned, which amused the other gang members greatly, she was always called Little Red Riding Hood, which of course embarrassed her all the more. To make her embarrassment complete, her grandmother, who fenced all the loot the gang members had stolen, made her a red hood, which she was forced to wear in public, solely because the cheap visual pun amused her cruel grandmother and her crueler associates.

One day her grandmother told her to go to Krzrnski’s Cafe, where the gang liked to gather, and pick up a basket of stolen muffins. “And don’t forget to put on your hood before you go,” the cruel old woman added.

Little Red Riding Hood fell on her knees. “Oh, please don’t make me wear the hood, Grandmother!” she cried piteously.

“What nonsense,” her grandmother responded. “Of course you must wear the hood. Otherwise the gang will have nothing to laugh at, and then they might burn down McKeesport again.”

So Little Red Riding Hood went off on her miserable way. How the gang laughed at her in her hideous red hood! But there was nothing she could do. She took the basket and turned around without a word.

On her way back, she met a wolf.

“Good morning, dear young lady,“ said the very polite wolf. “Where are you going so early, and do you need help removing that hideous excrescence that seems to have landed on your head?”

“Alas,” said the little girl, “and also alack, if I may be so bold; for it is a hood that my cruel and wicked grandmother forces me to wear, solely to humiliate me.”

“Where are you going so early, and do you need help removing that hideous excrescence that seems to have landed on your head?”

“You have a cruel and wicked grandmother?” the wolf asked.

“Yes, a cruel and wicked grandmother who lives at Number 1301 Long Way, right at the intersection with Short Cut. She makes my life miserable every day, and every day I wish that I could somehow be free from her clutches!”

“How very sad for you,” the wolf said sympathetically, writing something down in a pocket memorandum book. “But tell me: you wouldn’t happen to have any old beef bones or pork fat in that basket, would you? Because if you have been wondering how to get rid of any food scraps, I run a very efficient service.”

“You’re not going to eat me, are you?” Little Red Riding Hood asked nervously.

“Oh, certainly not! That is a common misconception. In fact a domestic dog, statistically speaking, is much more likely to attack you than a wolf. Wolves have attacked very few humans, and in almost every case they have mistaken the human for a garbage can. You are more likely to be savaged by a chipmunk. I have a wealth of facts and figures that I might share with you if you so desired, especially if you happened to have any old scraps of pork fat to be disposed of.”

“Alas,” said the poor little girl, “I have nothing but a few stolen muffins, which I must take to Grandmother’s house to be fenced.”

“But muffins are the perfect food for wolves!” cried the wolf with obvious glee. “Muffins provide vital nutrition for the active wolf lifestyle. Oh, if I could only have a muffin right now!”

“Well, here,” said Little Red Riding Hood, producing a cranberry muffin from the basket. “You’re the only one who’s been nice to me all week, so I don’t see why you shouldn’t have a muffin.”

“Oh, thank you!” the wolf said, and he devoured the muffin in two chomps, paper and all. “I won’t forget this, sweet little girl. You have made a wolf very happy.”

So Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf parted, and the little girl ambled along Long Way, dreading the moment she would reach No. 1301 and have to face her cruel and wicked grandmother again. And what if the gang members had told her grandmother how many muffins they had stolen? Would she count them? Would she notice the one missing? Oh, how horrible the punishment would be if she did! The last time something had been missing from the basket, her grandmother had made her wear pink bunny slippers for a month.

At last, Little Red Riding Hood reached her grandmother’s cottage. Timidly, she knocked on the door.

“Come in,” said an unusually hoarse voice.

Slowly the little girl opened the door and peered into the dim cottage. “I brought the muffins,” she said, trying to control the nervous quaver in her voice.

 

Timidly, she knocked on the door.

“Oh, thank you,” said a hoarse falsetto voice from the bedroom. “Please bring them in here, as I have a slight chill.”

Little Red Riding Hood stopped in her tracks. “But my grandmother never says ‘thank you,’” she said to herself. “And she certainly never says ‘please.’”

Cautiously and suspiciously she walked into the little bedroom, where a lump in the bed, bundled in blankets and wearing her grandmother’s bonnet, was barely visible in the dim light.

“Grandmother?” Little Red Riding Hood asked uncertainly.

“Grandmother?” Little Red Riding Hood asked uncertainly.

“Surprise!” said the wolf, sitting up and flinging off the old lady’s bonnet with a happy smile.

“My friend the wolf!” Little Red Riding Hood cried with delight. “But what happened to my cruel grandmother?”

“She took a—um—an early retirement package,” the wolf said.

“You mean my wicked grandmother is gone at last?”

“Yes, I have made sure she was, um, well taken care of, at the cost of a certain blip in the statistics. May I have a muffin?”

“Hooray!” cried Little Red Riding Hood, and she immediately tore the ugly red hood from her head and flushed it down the toilet.

Thus Little Red Riding Hood and her wolf lived happily ever after; and one by one, as they came to the house to see what had become of Grandmother, the members of the Riding Hoods took early retirement packages.

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