#3: Rumpelstiltskin: Reloaded

Once upon a time, there was a government servant who lived with his beautiful daughter, Anne. He hadn’t been very careful with his tax returns and the King — the sole tax authority in the olden days — was not amused. So the King hit the poor old chap with a rather hefty CP38 and a threat of imprisonment.

In desperation – and in what can be best described as a momentary lapse of reason – the man said to the King, “I have a daughter who can spin gold out of straw, so I can actually pay you back.”

The King thought it was a rather random thing for the man to have said, but he nevertheless ordered, “If your daughter can do that, then bring her to me immediately.”

So the man went home and told his daughter what happened earlier. He instructed her to wear her most lovely dress and then brought her before the King.

Anne was led to a dingy room, which was filled with a huge pile of straw. There was a spinning wheel in one corner and the King said with a stern voice, “Spin the straw into gold by sunrise or I’ll shove them down your throat and you shall die a brutal death.”

The door was then locked, and Anne was left alone in the dimly lit room. She thought about how hopeless the situation was and wept for she knew that there was no way that she could spin gold out of straw.

Suddenly, the door creaked open and a strange little man appeared.

“Why are you sad?’ he asked.

“Oh, it’s nothing,”[1] Anne answered, still sobbing.

“Seriously, woman. What’s wrong? Tell me and perhaps I can help.”

“Well, the King has ordered me to spin all the straw into gold, and I haven’t got a clue how to do it.”

“That is quite a conundrum. Well, for you, obviously. But I think I can help to solve this,” said the little man, stroking his chin. “What will you give me if I do it for you?”

“I will gladly give you my diamond necklace. My dad bought it for me from a local jewellery outlet that shall not be named in this story. Suffice to say that this company was founded in 1958 and retails the widest collection of diamonds and gemstones at competitive prices.”

“Too much information, but OK, I’ll take the necklace,” agreed the little man.

Anne gave the little man her diamond necklace, and he sat down to work, spinning the straw into fine gold with the kind of efficiency that would have impressed Toyota Motor Corporation. By sunrise the room was filled with gold, and the little man disappeared.

The King was delighted with what he saw, but he wanted more.[2] So he took Anne to a larger room filled with even more straw, and told her to spin it into even more gold by the next morning or suffer dire consequences.

“But Your Highness, why are you so obsessed with gold?” asked Anne.

“Why, haven’t you been reading the news?” retorted the King. “My Unit Trust agent told me that gold is all the rage at the moment. Gold may not be used as legal tender — unless the Central Bank authorised it — but you can keep it and wait for it to appreciate in value over time. Now, enough with all these questions and get on with the spinning,” barked the King.

Once more Anne slumped on the stool and began to weep. After a few minutes, the door opened and the strange little man reappeared.

“What will you give me if I do this for you?” he asked.

“I’ll gladly give you my solitaire diamond ring,”[3] said Anne.

“Very well,” said the little man as he sat down to spin the straw and worked, relentlessly spinning away until morning. By sunrise, the task was complete and all the straw was gold, and once more the little man made himself scarce.

Once more the king was pleased, and now he wanted even more gold. So the next evening he took Anne to an even larger room, filled to the rafters with straw.

The King said, “Spin this straw into gold and in the morning I shall marry you and make you my queen. As a bonus, I will waive your father’s back taxes.”

There was not a lot of logic in the marriage proposal[4] but Anne realised that marrying the King could well be her ticket to financial freedom. She would never have to work for the rest of her life. That means no direct selling, no MLM, and no participating in a reality TV competition to win a million dollars.

The King left the room and again, the peculiar little man reappeared as before and asked her, “What will you give me to spin all this into gold for you?”

Anne sighed a despairing sigh, for she had nothing left to give the little man. She opened her handbag and all she got was an expired Travel Card, some foreign coins, a laundry receipt, and a copy of ‘Noli Me Tangere’.[5]

“Then promise me that you shall give me your first child when you are queen,” said the little man.

That was an overwhelmingly absurd demand but Anne was desperate to get the straw turned into gold, so she could only agree to give the little man what he wanted. She hoped that she would never have to keep her promise, especially since she noticed that the little man did not insist on signing any legal papers.

The little man spun a huge pile of gold, and by sunrise not a piece of straw was left. In the morning, the King looked at all the gold and was as pleased as a mollycoddled possum.

The King put all the gold into storage and proceeded to marry Anne in a lavish ceremony. After that, they went for a short honeymoon in Bali, thanks to a budget airline that promises that everyone can fly if they don’t mind getting stuck at dingy airports for hours on end.

A year passed, and Anne — now Queen Anne[6] — gave birth to a lovely daughter. She was so happy that she forgot about the odd little man and the promise she made.

Until one day when the little man appeared and reminded her of it. The queen begged to keep her daughter, and she offered the little man the treasures of her Kingdom.

“Take anything you want, but allow me to keep my child. Why, you can even have my brand new Ferrari Enzo, if that catches your fancy,” said Queen Anne.

“Why would I want to take the car?” asked the little man.

“This is no ordinary car,” Queen Anne patiently explained. “This 12-cylinder mid-engine berlinetta is built using Formula One™ technology, so it has a carbon-fibre body, F1-style electrohydraulic shift transmission, carbon fibre-reinforced silicon carbide ceramic composite disc brakes, and other complicated stuff that even Bernie Ecclestone[7] doesn’t really understand such as active aerodynamics and traction control.”

“That’s not all,” the Queen continued. “This 6-speed semi-automatic machine can go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds and can hit 100 mph in 6.6 seconds. The top speed is 226 mph, and at 18 miles per US gallon on the highway, I’d say it is a rather thirsty beast, but you will definitely enjoy driving it.”

“I don’t understand a word you’re saying, woman!”

“Well, neither do I, actually. I just looked it all up on Wikipedia™, so that I can bombard you with useless facts in the forlorn hope that maybe you will be impressed and would agree to take the car instead of my baby,” said the Queen.

“No thanks, lady. I prefer teleporting,” said the little man.

The Queen started to cry because she could not bear to part with her little baby, and the little man finally gave in to her pleading.

“Oh, alright then. I can’t stand all the crying because it makes me feel like I’m in a badly made Korean drama,” said the little man, rolling his eyes.

“Very well, you have three days to guess my name. If you can, you get to keep your child, but if you can’t, I shall take her with me and disappear forever.”

The Queen stayed up all night thinking of all sort of names and writing them down in a long list. The next morning while the King was out on the fairway, golfing with his buddies, the little man came to the castle and Queen Anne began to work through her list: Peter, John, Joshua, Daniel, Dylan, Raphaël, Léo, Antoine, Tempe Asoka, Alejandro, Pablo, Sergio, Ivan, etc. Unfortunately, at each one the little man gave the same reply: “Nah, not even close.”

On the second day, the Queen tried a whole host of other names: Andrew, Ryan, Enzo, Lucas, Jorge, Dominik, Zsombor, Dollah Salleh, László, Zoltán, Gábor, Magnus, Captain Underpants, etc. The little man just ROTFL and said, “At this rate, you will never guess my name!”

The Queen had by now run out of ideas, so she sent her servants out to do some research and see if they could discover any other names. One servant ventured into the woods in search of some inspiration, and while walking through the forest, he stopped to relieve himself after one too many lager at the tavern.

He saw a fire and went to investigate. As fate, dumb luck and fairy tale convenience would have it, the servant saw a strange little man hopping about around a bonfire and singing:

“Today I bake, tomorrow I brew,
Then, dear princess, I come for you.
None can guess, none can claim
That Rumpelstiltskin is my name.”

The servant went back to the castle and told the Queen about his strange discovery in the woods. Naturally, Queen Anne[8] was immensely relieved, so she thanked the servant profusely and gave him a promotion (to Assistant Vice President), an eight per cent salary raise (in line with industry average), and a two-month bonus (which would have been more had it not been for the falling crude oil prices).

On the third day, the little man came a-calling bright and early, and he asked Queen Anne with apparent glee, “What is my name?”

The Queen rattled off a new list of names: Expedit, Stolmen, Portis, Rigga, Tindra, Rönås, Bekväm, Förhöja, Stenstorp, Ektorp, Karlstad, etc.

“Woman, what do you think I am? An IKEA™ furniture? You have one more chance to guess my name and if you fail, I will take away your baby daughter,” said the little man with a sly grin.

The Queen took a deep breath, paused for effect, and finally said, “Rumpelstiltskin is your name.”

“Who told you that? Who told you that?” cried the little man. He was aghast and flew into a rage.  He stamped his feet in frustration like some airlines entrepreneur who has been denied additional flights to Singapore.

In fact, he stamped his feet so hard that he fell through the floor, broke his hips and suffered multiple fractures to his legs. As a result, he had to undergo a complicated orthopaedic and trauma surgery at Prince Court Medical Centre, an internationally acclaimed private healthcare facility located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.[9]

Rumpelstiltskin never bothered the Queen, the King and their daughter again, and they lived happily ever afternoon.

Upon his recovery, Rumpelstiltskin migrated to the United States of America, became a closet Republican, and settled down somewhere in the state of Pennsylvania. He formed a thrash metal band called Rumpelstiltskin Grinder,[10] which had a minor hit in Germany. The band’s European release of Rumpelstiltskin’s song in the forest (“Ach, wie gut, dass niemand weiß, dass ich Rumpelstilzchen heiß”)[11] inspired the Deutschrock movement in the late 1980s.

As you can see, things usually work out in the end, even if you are a peculiar-looking little man with a funny name.

[1] When a woman says “It’s nothing,” you can bet the most vital part of your anatomy that it’s really SOMETHING.
[2] Naturally.
[3] Have you noticed that when someone gets her diamond ring from Poh Kong, she always says, “It’s a diamond ring,” whereas when she gets the ring from Tiffany & Co., she would say, “It’s a Tiffany.” But I digress.
[4] Damned fairy tales!
[5] A novel written by Filipino national hero José Rizal, first published in 1887 in Berlin, Germany.
[6] Not to be confused with Queen Anne Tableware Ltd, the world-famous silver plated table and giftware manufacturer based in Wednesbury, West Midlands in the United Kingdom (www.queenanneuk.com). First established in the jewellery quarter of Birmingham in 1919, the company has its roots in the expertise and craftsmanship of fine English silversmiths. Their full range includes casseroles, cake stands, serviette holders, butter and jam dishes, candelabra, trays, cruets, and hors d’oeuvres, flan dishes and fruit bowl. Thank you.
[7] F1 Supremo.
[8] No relation to Queen Anne who reigned as Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland (8 March 1702 — 1 May 1707), and later first sovereign of the Kingdom of Great Britain (1 May 1707 — 1 August 1714).
[9] All expenses were paid for by the King. After all, Rumpelstiltskin did make the King loads of gold.
[10] Look it up on Wikipedia. It’s there.
[11] Translation: “And oh! I am glad that nobody knew, that the name I am called is Rumpelstiltskin!”

#3: Rumpelstiltskin: Reloaded

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