Childhood Memories: Ripping Off ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’
Recently I had the pleasure of organizing the boxes of my childhood that didn’t get thrown out in the last move. I found decaying ribbons of achievement, a tiny cub scout uniform (complete with sash), and my art scrapbook, brimming with crafts and stories.
One story in particularly caught my eye as I flipped through the pages. Curiously titled “The 5 Magic Nuts” the date reveals I penned this masterpiece just over 20 years ago.
Upon reading the tale, it wasn’t long before I realized I’d pretty much ripped off Jack and the Beanstalk — though I changed just enough to make it seem original (like most Hollywood films).
I’d like to share the story with you, along with humorous commentary by my grown up self. So without further ado:
The Five Magic Nuts
Ian M. March 14, 1988
Once upon a time, there lived a little Leprechaun who was very poor! He lived with a duck. He was very poor because he didn’t know how to work magic!
I can’t actually remember why I changed Jack to a Leprechaun. Maybe because St. Patrick’s Day was coming up? Also, notice the ingenious swap of the previous cow for the duck.
One day he went out to sell his duck. On the way he met an old man. He said we would take the duck for five magic nuts! So he took the exchange, and went home.
No need to ponder why he needs 5 magic nuts. The Leprechaun must be either very shrewd or very gullible.
When he put them on the table he bumped it and the nuts fell in to a crack! So he went to bed. That night a huge nut tree grew under his house! It went up and up, till it reached the sky! In the morning he looked out the window and saw a big castle! He went to the big door.
Apparently I skipped the part about the Leprechaun actually climbing the generic nut tree. Perhaps he knows teleportation? Who cares. When you’re a kid, anything makes sense if you add an exclamation mark to the end of every sentence!
He opened it a little! Then he went inside. Just then, he heard a sound like thunder! He hid in the fireplace. Then a big ugly ogre came in. Fe, fi, fo fum, I smell the blood of a Leprechaun! Then he said: it must have been the one that I caught last night.
I didn’t even bother to come up with original ogre speak. Pitiful. Also the logic isn’t clear how another Leprechaun happened to be caught the night before. Up in the ogre castle they must be crawling out the woodwork?
Then he sat down with a bag of gold! He started to count and count till he was asleep. Then the Leprechaun grabbed it, and ran to his house!
Doesn’t even hesitate. Talk about a kleptomaniac.
Then he went back in an hour. He hid in the fireplace. Then in came the ogre, with a hen. He put it on the table, and said lay! Then the hen laid a golden egg! The ogre fell asleep in an hour. Then the Leprechaun grabbed the magic hen, and ran for his house.
In an hour he went back, and hid in the fireplace. Then the ogre came in with a magic harp! Play he said, and the harp played! In one hour he was asleep! Then the Leprechaun grabbed it, but the ogre woke up and the Leprechaun started to run, and run, but the house was gone.
In the original story, the harp is supposed to protest being ripped off and wakes the ogre. But my version? The ogre just wakes up. No need to explain. Also, it’s unclear why his house was at the top of the nut tree to begin with.
It was at the bottom of the tree! He started to climb down, so did the ogre! When he reached the bottom he got an ax, and started to chop the tree down! It went closer, and closer to the ground!
Not sure how cutting a nut tree down implies it’s “getting closer” to the ground. Maybe the Leprechaun was so powerful, he knocked entire chunks out of the trunk?
Then down went the tree and down the ogre! After that the Leprechaun lived happily ever after!
The end. I like to think my writing skills have improved in the years since.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got an idea for a new short story. It’s about a mysterious island where a group of scientists have found the secret to cloning the DNA of dinosaurs! And they decide to build a theme park around the dinosaurs!
The working title: Billy and the Clonosaurus.