Tuesday, February 14, 2012

#10 - The Troll

Once upon a time...
there was a smelly and slimy family of trolls. There was a Father Troll and and Mother Troll, though to be honest, there wasn't much to tell the difference between the two of them, but maybe that's one of those things that people say happens. You know, that thing that when couples are together long enough they start to resemble one another. And this pair was equal parts spit, drool, and boogers. Yes, lots of boogers. But they were not alone in their smelliness nor their snottiness. They had many troll children. There were twelve large and aggressive troll brothers who all followed in their much larger and much more aggressive father's over-sized and toe-jammed shoes and trolled all over the lands. The twelve of them hid under bridges and ate billy goats. They hid on the forests and attacked children. Bob bombarded the Land of Make-Believe. The triplets Bert, Bill, and Tom were known to argue over the best way to eat little furry-footed men. A few chased gnomes. Some lived in caves, others dwelled in isolated mountains. No matter where they were though, they were rarely described as helpful or friendly - they were never describe that way actually. Mostly, they were all described as being extremely strong, but slow and dim-witted, and some were even man-eaters! None ever turned to stone in sunlight though. That seemed to be one of those variations of troll lore that was developed in stories, like genies being friendly or vampires twinkling. Silliness and false. and dumb, in this writer's opinion.
This troll family was successful in their trolliness. There was however, one brother that was not quite so successful. The thirteenth troll brother was a sad disappointment and a stain on the family's reputation as the grossest of troll families. The thirteenth troll brother never succeeded in anything. No matter how hard he tried to be like this brothers, he could never get the hang of being a troll. Yes, he was slow and dim-witted, but he had a natural curiosity that all trolls frown upon. The thirteenth brother wanted to know things. He wanted to know why flowers smelled like sweet things when they came from the same dirt he bathed in. He wanted to see what was over the mountains instead of always living under them. But most of all, he wanted to feel the excitement of heroics.
The poor unsuccessful troll did not want to let his family down though. He went out and found a bridge in need of a troll. He became the sentry tasked in stopping all who tried to cross that bridge. He wasn't terrible, it turned out - not as terrible as everyone in his family had come to expect - but he wasn't good either. Every time a knight would appear, they would beat him up and pass over the bridge. But still he tried. And secretly he dreamed of other adventures.
One day, while attempting to spit farther than his brother Snori had been made king for, he inhaled too deeply and swallowed a particularly large bug that had been fluttering by. He began to choke. He stumbled through the trees and came upon a young human female who appeared to be doing nothing more than singing to sparrows and woodland creatures. He attempted to communicate his situation but only managed to sputter and gurgle. He attempted charades, but she wasn't paying enough attention to his movements. She seemed more concerned with screaming at the top of her lungs. And just when he thought all was lost, a man in a shiny metal outfit came out of nowhere and and struck him across the back. The bug flew from the troll's chapped, cracked lips and soared into the sky. The man in the shiny outfit scooped up the hysterical female and rode off into the forest. As they galloped away, the Troll got a glimpse of the look of joy on the female's face and the way she beamed up at the man in the shiny outfit.
it was then that the thirteenth troll brother knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to be a knight! He wanted to see that look on the faces of those who looked upon him, instead of the looks of terror and disgust he had learned to expect.
And so, though he often forgot just what exactly he was supposed to do or what exactly he would rather be doing, the unsuccessful, slow and dim-witted, and kind at heart Troll guarded that bridge while imagining a life in a shiny suit and saving things.
and then a small knight appeared one day and didn't outright attack him...

Kronk, Fezzik, The Cowardly Lion. At first glance, threats! Villains! Dangerous! But really, they're just big softies. The heroes are often surprised to find that despite appearances, the thugs in tales have dreams too. "I had a dream once..." claimed a Hook Handed Thug.
I would like to believe many of the fights that occur in the world could be avoided if the opposing forces just talked things through instead of jumping to conclusions. We all make snap decisions based on what we assume. But as Tony Randall always said, "When you assume, you make an ass out of you and..." something... I forget the rest... But the point stays true. We can't just assume that because a big stinky troll looks threatening that they are a threat. Maybe they just look the way they do because of certain circumstances in their lives. We won't know what those circumstances are if we just attack!
The Troll is sweet and simple. He's not the menace that other trolls are. And he's not Shrek, (though I will admit there is a certain amount of similarity here). Shrek's an ogre, first of all, but Shrek wants to just be who he is and damn whatever the world says. The Troll wants to be more. He wants to go beyond the expectations of his family and the world. He's like a friend of mine who came from a family full of people who never went to college, some not even high school graduates; a family of janitors and gas station workers who never strived for anything more. My friend went to college. He teaches kindergarden full time. He went further than the expectations. The Troll is not what we assume.

I am reminded of a story from the stand-up comedian Ant. He was performing in Harrison, Arkansas, which is, as the Welcome sign leading into town states, "Proud home of the KKK." Ant is a gay comic, and he's not a little gay. he's a proud Queen. He was up on stage performing for a room of the whitest bunch of down south good ol' boys you could imagine, and once he really got going into his regular shtick, the crowd was growing aggravated. This huge guy - biggest guy in the place - Bubba, was sitting in the front row. Tattoos all over his body, gigantic beard - a Viking. After only a short time of Ant's set, Bubba stood up, climbed onto the stage, and literally picked Ant up. Bubba carried him, kicking and screaming, right out of the backstage door. The massive Viking threw Ant into the back of his beat-up black Toyota and said, "We gotta get you out of here, little buddy, or they're gonna KILL you!"
And Ant was safely wisked to the airport by this gentle and heroic troll of a man.

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