Friday, December 3, 2010

Beauty and Two Beasts

"Taywle as old as tine.  True as kin beeeeeeee.  Barely even frenz, then somebody benz unexspinalleeeeee!"  I can still hear Jonathan's silky, deep 4-year-old voice ringing out from the back seat of our dear old Mazda MPV minivan as we headed towards an afternoon of adventure.  We were going to Toys 'R' Us so that Jonathan and Bryce, who was almost three at the time, could point out some toys to include in their letters to Santa.  It was the Year of the Beast, and, the stores were filled with myriads of Beauty and the Beast items - action figures, toddler eating utensils, sleeping bags.  So, I wasn't surprised when Bryce requested the Bell and Beast "dolls" for Christmas that year.  

Strolling down the aisles at T'R'U, I had them point out specific toys they hoped to spy under the tree on Christmas morning.  "Look, Brycie!  It's Belle and the Beast!" I dramatically exclaimed in my breathless "voice of wonder" mother voice.  I held up the plastic action figures to show him.  "Not DOZE!" he said with Bobo, the blanket, hanging from the side of his mouth.  Toddling over to the towering shelves filled with Disney merch, he pointed up and exclaimed, "Deez!  I wan deez!!!"  Much to my surprise, he was standing just beneath the gift sets of "Barbie and Ken" Belle and Beast dolls.

"Bryce!  That's a Barbie!  Only girls play with Barbies!" Jonathan warned.  "So!?"  Bryce remained firm.  My mind raced way ahead into Bryce's future.  I saw his preschool comrades encircling him chanting "Brycie plays with do-olls!  Brycie plays with do-olls!"  Then, I imagined his request for Malibu Barbie and Disco Ken for his 8th birthday.  I heard the jeering of insensitive little boys hovered around him at the skating rink birthday party table as he innocently displayed his gifts from his mommy.  I drew in a quick gasp as I pictured him as a teenager wanting to become Barbie.  (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)  I gulped and asked, "Are you SURE you want the Belle and Beast DOLLS, Bryce?"  I dropped the "ie" from "Bryce" to try to remind him that he was a big boy.  "I want dat from Sanna!" he assured us.  So, after much self talk and and inner I'm-OK-You're-OK pep rally, I traipsed back to Target and...bought...the...dolls.   

Which brings me to my story.  The dolls were actually kind of cool.  Well, the Beast doll was cool because he came with the hairy Beast outfit.  Belle was just, just...a Barbie that came with a normal dress and a ball gown.  I was happy to see that both Bryce and Jonathan preferred dressing the guy doll up in the manly Beast costume and that they were making the appropriate growling and roaring noises as they played with him.  I noted with a satisfied smile that, for the most part, Belle remained cast aside wearing her blue "school" dress that carelessly gaped open in the back.  Her outfits weren't even interesting enough to merit the investment of the time required to velcro up her "zipper."

One day long after all of the Christmas decorations had made their way back up into the attic, I wandered back to Bryce's room to check in on the two boys who were playing peacefully and quietly together.  With little boys, "peacefully and quietly" didn't mean that they were sitting together studying a Where's Waldo book.  Nope, "peacefully and quietly" generally meant trouble and required covert investigation.  Bryce's room had become a battle field.  The Commanders-in-Chief were having a pow-wow to plan out how the battle would go down.  Parts were cast.  Winners were predestined.  

All of the armies were united to defeat some evil foe.  The GI Joes were propped up against the legs of the little chairs of Bryce's Fisher-Price table with guns pointed upward loaded and cocked.  Transformers were marching in from the East from underneath the bed.  Zbots were infiltrating the area from the South goose-stepping in little rows and columns.  There on top of the little table towered the Fisher-Price castle turned Fortress of Barbaric Bad Guys.  Little "castle guys" were leaning from the turrets ready to do battle.  Accepting his appointment as the Representative of the the Forces of Evil, Bryce made his way to the land of villainy.  

There in the middle of the Bad Guy army towered the Beast who roared, "Top!  Oh, ah whuh kiwl huh!" as imaginary bullets bounced off of his broad chest.  "Pe-yu, pe-yu, pe-yu...rat-a-tat-tat!"  The firestorm continued.  I did a double-take when my eyes fell upon poor Belle.  She was dangling over the side of the castle from a twine "rope" that was tied to one of her delicate ankles.  Her arms were dangling down past her head.  Her free leg was bent in such a way that her foot was almost touching her head.  And, she was "nekked as a jay bird" with "rope" twining up and down around her plastic body.  Her nondescript crotch was splayed for all the world to see.  It was the tale as old as time.  The Beast had turned on her.  

I tried not to overreact as my mothermind once again began to race forward.  Thoughts like "disrespect for women," "domestic violence," and "wait 'til I get my hands on the preschool meanies who influenced my sons to bully women" blew through my brain like a tornado of restraining orders.  I stood back for a minute devising my plan.  I had to rescue Belle in the name of all that was holy and feminine.  Raising my arms above my head with cat claw fingers, I yelled, "I'm coming, Belle!  Superwoman is coming to save you!"  The boys swiveled around and watched me join the fracas with delighted surprise.  Stomping across the room with exaggerated marching steps, I kicked a few of the allied forces out of the way.  

Quickly, I scooped up ratty-haired, helpless Belle and cradled her in my arms.  Cooing to her, I assured her that she was safe in my arms.  Without a word of explanation, I smoothly exited the battlegrounds, and, then quickly made my way to my closet.  Once there, I removed her twine shackles and tucked Belle away in an old shoebox promising to return bearing both her daytime frock and her golden yellow ball gown.  "Stay here, Belle.  They will never think to look in an old white leather Keds' box!"  I heard the sounds of battle resuming in Bryce's room.  As long as the Beast was on the loose, there was work to be done.

That was that.  Belle was saved.  The allies continued their warfare against the Beast.  

"Tale as old as tiiiiiiiiime.  'Bout a beastly beeeeeeeeeeeeast.
He and Belle were friends, then the beast got all intense - unexpectedly!

Just a little strange...
He was really mean!
She was pretty scared,
totally unprepared.
Beauty, run from Beast!

Remind me to tell you about the time my mom got to meet "Mrs. Potts" (Angela Lansbury).  It's a sweet little story, indeed.

1 comment:

Anabeth said...

this was a great time in my children's "disney" history. ace was gaston, the bad guy. Beauty and the Beast played on a continuous loop in our house.



Meems had a very special visitor this weekend.  Our friend, Laura Ard, flew down from DC to spend time with her.  Laura lived next door t...