I toted a serious Little Girl Crush for the Big Bad Wolf.
Something about all that huffing and puffing as a seven-year-old must have riled me up to the point where I slid Elvis Presley and Arthur the Aardvark over to make ample heart space for my “bad boy crush,” or should I say wolf?
The day I learned to love the Wolf was the day my fellow second graders and I sat down on our magical carpet and opened our ears up to our librarian as she told us the Other Side of the Story.
The side of the story where those three wretched swine were really the nasty ones, not allowing their neighbor wolf to borrow any cups of sugar. And poor, poor Wolfy had an awful case of allergies; the guy couldn’t help knocking down all those houses with such uncontrollable sneezing.
Sweet Mother of Holy Cows, I cannot tell you the guilt that sickened my stomach the day I realized I had gotten the Big Bad Wolf all wrong. Guilt that glopped up in my stomach like cheap icing from dollar store cookies.
I don’t think I knew the word “repent” at the time, but goodness, if I were Catholic I would have spent a couple days cooped up in a confessional feeling sorry for the ways in which I wronged the Wolf.
And that’s the point I want to go with today. So we really don’t need to delve further into the countless number of times I checked that storybook out of the library just to take Mr. Wolf away from the mean, mean dictators of Storybook Land who sneaked and slithered among the bookshelves and plastered him with unkind stereotypes, from his sharp teeth down to his hairy toes.
It’s how we wrong one another, no matter if that Other is a wolf or a classmate. A friend or a coworker. It’s how we get careless with Words (Words are quite powerful, don’t you think they should just make them a proper noun and get on with it?) and we use them in a way that forces others around us into teeny, tiny boxes. (And I want to talk about those miniscule boxes one day soon!)
I am firm believer that it took a brave, brave man to pile up all the Words of the world and slop them into a dictionary. So that, forever and ever, people could Use Them and Know Them and Learn from Them. But, on the adverse, Use Them Against One Another. Use Them to Cut and Kill and Cripple.
Yikes, we just got far deeper than my love affair for the Darling Wolf.
Alcoholic. Predator. Homo. Spinster. Anorexic. Homeless. Deadbeat. Dyke. Freak. Cracker. Addict. Pervert.
Jeepers, these were NOT the Words I wanted to plaster all over this post but we use these Words, and other crude combinations, to break a person’s back. To Make Them Less with Our Own Few Syllables.
I can admit it now: I’ve used the words all bunched up in my cheeks to staple someone to the ground before. Someone that I love very deeply even though I’ve often dropped the word “Addict” to force him below me. Under me. Put him right beside Dirt & Scum & gave him a Lower Life than he ever, ever deserved.
I called him an Addict out loud. And proclaimed it to people over and over again, as if to hand them the rope and ask them to help me tie the awful title to his back.
And you know what? It never propelled me any higher. It never made me any kind of Better than him. And it certainly didn’t deliver Goodness. It just built a wall higher, as these Words often do, that hindered me from loving him beyond the label.
When what I really should have done is used the time & space to tell others about my love for him. My prayers for him. The ways in which I know he can dribble and shoot better than the crowd. His passion for crime shows. The immense capacity I think he holds to get it all together and kick some ass one day soon.
Those are the kind of Words we need today. Not more hate. Not more discrimination. Not another Stupid Sentence Said to Ruin Someone Else’s Day or Week or Confidence or Ambition. Who am I to think I got planted on this earth to add more Ugliness to that pile that grows higher and higher. Over the internet. Twitter. Classrooms. Chat rooms. Lunch Tables. Highways.
I’d rather have Good Words for Ammo. Kind Words that Strike. Strong Words that lift & push & pull a person higher.
About the same time I learned about the Big Bad Wolf I must have learned the phrase: If you haven’t anything nice to say, then say nothing at all. That’s a lesson we all could learn over and over again. Don’t bring those Words around here. You take those Words outside and leave them there, leave them like a houses made poorly by Little Pigs… Walk Away and Let that Wolf Blow Them Down.