Once upon a time, there lived a little girl with beautiful, golden curly hair. Her name was Goldilocks, and she played every day in the forest behind her home. Oh, did she play! She played and played from the faint light before dawn to just before lunchtime, bringing the breakfast of Nature Valley Granola Bars and a half pint of 1% milk that her mother packed for her each night before going to bed. She was a sweet girl, too, often sharing bits of oats and seeds with the birds, chipmunks, and other forest creatures, and they (usually) rewarded her kindness with friendly chittering and even an occasional nuzzle of her nose.
One day, however, Goldilocks’ mother fell ill. She was so ill, in fact, that she went to bed at 7:30 p.m., without even packing a breakfast for the poor girl. When Goldilocks awoke to the sound of the robins’ doodle-doo announcement of the imminent arrival of the faintest glimmer of pre-dawn, she donned a lovely, age- and activity-appropriate outfit, raced into the kitchen, and… found nothing to eat.The young lady, undeterred by this setback, decided quickly upon a plan of action. Gummi bears? Check. Half pint of mother’s skim (ew) milk? Check. Handful of coconut M&Ms? Bonus check! And off she flew to the forest.
You can probably guess what happened next. Yes, she ate all of the candy, nearly before the sun rose. Yes, she drank all of the skim (eww) milk. That helped for a while, but it really wasn’t enough. Really, really wasn’t enough. In fact, barely 73 minutes and 12 seconds after she left home, Goldilocks was ravenous.
Fortunately (according to one perspective), in her manic state – brought on by the massive sugar intake and perhaps a bit of genetics – she had ventured further into the forest than she had ever gone. “What is that smell?” she wondered. “That wonderful, awful, delicious smell?” Hardly traveling twenty steps further, and bursting into a clearing with a well-manicured lawn, she found the source of olfactory delight: a quaint two story thatched roof cottage. The aromas of fresh porridge and cut fruit wafted towards Goldilocks, calling her like the Sirens of old beckoned sailors to their doom.
She momentarily considered the possibility of danger. Then, she dismissed it. “I’m ever so hungry,” she thought. “There’s plenty, and I’m sure they won’t miss it.”
Goldilocks entered the cottage by way of the kitchen door and found three bowls of porridge waiting; an enormous bowl, a minuscule bowl, and a middle-sized bowl. Taking a bite from the largest, she exclaimed, “Ow! That’s too hot!” A similar bite from the smallest evinced a frown; “too cold,” she said. “That’s just disgusting.” By this time, in agony with hunger pangs, she was overjoyed to find that the moderately sized bowl was also moderately warm. “Just right,” she said. “And delicious, too. It could use a hint of nutmeg, but this is adequately adequate.”
This was a much larger breakfast than Goldilocks usually ate. It was filling, too. All of that playing and eating made her sleepy. At this point she could have slept on the floor, but it occurred to her that must be some perfectly good beds that nobody would need until at least afternoon. It didn’t take her long to find them, either. Upstairs, there was an enormous bed (too hard), a minuscule bed (too short), and a moderately sized bed that was slightly lumpy but otherwise just right. As she lay down for a brief rest, she told herself: “Just a brief rest, and we’ll be on our way.”
❖ ❖ ❖
Shortly after, the owners of the cottage returned. They were a family of Beavers; Papa Beaver, Momma Beaver, and Baby Beaver. (You can be forgiven if you assumed they were Bears; some hapless scribe in the 17th century, so poorly educated that he didn’t realize that “v” was actually a letter, removed every “v” from the story; and realizing that “Beaer” didn’t look quite right, reasoned that the family must actually be the Bear family. But, I digress.)
Being unaware that anything had transpired in their absence, the Beavers were shocked and dismayed to learn that someone had tasted their porridge.
“Someone’s been eating my porridge!” Papa Beaver bellowed.
“Someone’s been eating my porridge, too!” shouted Baby Beaver.
“Oh, my word. Someone rightly devoured my porridge! All of it,” whispered Momma Beaver.
Anxious to discover the culprit, the family searched through their house. They checked the living room chairs (all intact and un-sat in); they checked the bathroom and the laundry room (really, the same room); and finally they checked upstairs in the bedroom.
“Someone’s messed up my bed-covers!” said Papa Beaver.
“Someone’s pushed the pillows off my bed,” a trembling Baby Beaver cried.
“Someone’s been sleeping in my bed,” growled Momma Beaver. “And not only that, she’s still here!”
The Beaver family bared their frightful incisors and growled a Growl of Great Ferocity. Startled awake, Goldilocks took one look at the angry rodent family and decided that it was a perfect time to excuse herself from the premises. She ran off without a word, unless you count the ear-splitting consonant-less shriek that carried on the still morning air for what seemed like an eternity.
Papa Beaver didn’t like to see the glum look on Momma Beaver’s muzzle, but realized that the girl-intruder’s theft of porridge left too little for them to salvage a decent breakfast. He turned to his family and said,
“Hoooookay. Well. Who’s up for McDonald’s?”