Lizzie was frustrated. Once again, her domineering mother had put her in an impossible position. As she had many times before, her mom had bragged about her daughter’s talents, how Liz could do anything she set her mind to, leaving her to prove she was, indeed, special.
“Oh, my Liz is a whiz at spelling. Go ahead, dear, spell supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”
And the dutiful daughter did.
“Oh, my Lizzie can jump rope for hours and hours. Go ahead, sweetheart, jump rope.”
And that’s what Liz did for hours and hours and . . .
But this time, her mother had gone too far. This time, Mom had gotten the ear of the king, and eager to impress him, had taken up the king’s impossible challenge.
“Can your daughter turn this room full of straw into gold?” he’d asked, thinking this question would certainly shut the mouthy woman up.
“Of course she can,” replied the boastful mother, “my Lizzie can do anything.”
“Fine,” said the king, motioning for a guard to push the distraught Liz into the straw filled room and lock the door behind her.
“But…” retorted the mother, suddenly realizing the predicament her bragging had created.
The king parted with, “I’ll be back in the morning for the gold. If it’s not here, off comes her head.”
Liz looked around the room, empty except for a mound of straw and a loom. The straw would have made for a nice night’s sleep, except the coming morning did not promise to be pleasant.
A cloud of smoke appeared in the room, along with a strong smell of men’s aftershave. A deep voice spoke from within the cloud.
“Well, Lizzie, seems you have a problem.”
Then, much to the surprised girl’s amazement, a dwarf stepped out of the mist. He had a large, bulbous nose with a wart on its tip, a line of dark eyebrows that stretched across his forehead, unruly hair poking out from under a New York Mets baseball cap, and a smile that revealed a mouthful of yellowed crooked teeth. He wore a sweatshirt that announced “Life’s too short to drink cheap beer,” jeans with patches on the knees, and black high topped tennis shoes with pink shoe laces.
Open mouthed, Liz was still gaping when the visitor, hands on hips, announced, “I’m here to help.”
Dumbfounded, Lizzie stared in disbelief, then shrieked, “Help! Are you kidding me? Like you can turn this pile of straw into gold?!”
Unfazed, the little man simply replied, “No problem.”
Losing it, Lizzie screamed, “Too much! My big mouthed mother tells the king I can turn straw into gold and then a pint size guy appears in a puff of smoke, reeking of Bay Rum, and says ‘No problem.’”
Liz buried her head in her hands and sobbed.
The dwarf did not reply, instead, he sat down at the loom, took up a handful of straw, and with a few words and some razzle dazzle, began weaving. Moments later, he handed Liz a small piece of finely woven fabric.
She stopped crying and fingered the fabric, then muttered a single amazed word-
The dwarf just smiled.
Her second word was, “How?”
“My mother was a witch and my dad a tailor, and I spent awhile in a textile mill in Bangladesh.”
Lizzie’s third word was, “Wow!” Then she erupted with a series of questions.
* * *
It was morning when the door was unlocked and creaked open. There stood the king, with Liz’s mom beside him. He looked into the room. The straw was gone and there stood Liz, smiling, holding up a stunning gold tunic.
“Will this do?” she asked helping the astonished king into the dazzling garment.
Looking down at the brilliant gold cloth, the likes of which he’d never seen before, the king purred, “Oh yes, this will do very, very well.”
For the first time in her life, Liz’s mother had nothing to say, which was good, for she was summarily shunted outside the room and left alone as the door closed.
Liz was done having her mother speak for her and she began negotiating a deal with the king. An hour later, discussions over, she had a new warehouse in the free trade zone with a ten year break on property taxes. From this location, she’d run her new fashion clothing business which would supply the king with the latest designs to keep him the best dressed man in the kingdom. Also, Liz had suggested the king needed to work on his public image and the vain monarch agreed to take on Liz’s mother as his new director of public relations.
The king, enamored with this deal, left to show off his new garb to the court’s elite, a guard dragging Lizzie’s protesting mother behind him.
“Well, what do you think?” asked Liz of the strange little man with the magic touch who once again appeared in a puff of smoke.
“Perfect!” exclaimed the dwarf, producing two bottles of ice cold pale ale, popping the tops, and handing one to Liz.
“By the way,” she asked, “you never did mention your name.”
“Oh, that,” her savior said, “it’s Rumpelstiltskin
“That’s a mouthful.”
“You can call me Al.”
And with a clink of their bottles, the unlikely duo birthed “Rumpelstiltskins,” the specialty clothing company which now has outlets in Beverly Hills, Paris, and Dubai.
Moral: You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but you can turn straw to gold with a little magic and some razzle dazzle.
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