So Much for My Happy Ending

This comic got me thinking about stock openings and closings for fairy tales, particularly the latter. I’m terrible at coming up with endings. You may have noticed that a lot of my posts end pretty abruptly. Anyway, the “happily ever after” ending almost seems dismissive, like someone asked the storyteller, “Then what happened?”, and he replied with, “They lived HAPPILY EVER AFTER, okay? That’s it!” Of course, living happily ever after isn’t all that realistic, which even Disney realized once they found out they could make a few quick bucks from direct-to-video sequels. And not all fairy tales have happy endings, but even the ones that do occasionally have conclusions that come across as more interesting, or just plain weird. One famous one is the Grimms’ version of “Hansel and Gretel,” which ends with, “My tale is done, there runs a mouse, whosoever catches it, may make himself a big fur cap out of it.” I’ve seen others along similar lines as well, basically saying, “That’s all, folks” in a more creative manner. I also tend to like endings with some authorial insertion in them, like “They feasted and they drank, and if the wine hadn’t run out, I’d still be there with them instead of here talking to you.” I remember L. Frank Baum’s story “The Glass Dog” using this technique in a humorous fashion: “As for the glass dog, the wizard set him barking again by means of his wizardness and put him outside his door. I suppose he is there yet, and am rather sorry, for I should like to consult the wizard about the moral to this story.” There’s a good list of folk tale endings, some attributed and some not, on this page. I notice several incorporate a rhyme, and others basically say, “If you didn’t like this story, screw you.” And while it’s not exactly a folk tale, I also think the ending of the Gospel of John fits in with the same general idea: “But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”

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