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Don't Let Anyone Change Your Name to Dopey

Copyright © Tim Frater 2018


Chapter I

Hey. Dopey’s the name. It’s not my real name. My real name is Matthew. Matt for short. Matt Shlumph. Yes, that’s Shlumph, like the sound water makes in your gumboots when walking. How did I come to be called Dopey? It happened when I was six years old…

Wandering through the forest one day with my big brother, Bart, we stopped for a rest and I fell asleep. When I awoke Bart was gone. It started raining and, luckily, I found shelter in a small cave in the hillside nearby.

As I sat there soggy eyed a strange noise came from inside the cave—a “chink, chink” sound. I crept inwards, but look! Was that a light flickering up ahead? Yes! And like a large Kmart sign that read “Toy Sale” I was compellingly drawn toward it.

Rounding a bend an astounding sight greeted me. First, there were brilliant diamonds jutting out from the walls everywhere. Extracting the diamonds with pick axes were six little men, each wearing a hard hat supporting a lantern.

Uneasiness stirred. Were these diamond robbers, perhaps? That feeling of uneasiness spread to my stomach, precipitating a rumbling in my belly and climaxing with a loud escaping of intestinal gases. To put it in the vernacular—I farted…loudly. The noise echoed around the cave and did not go unnoticed by the six little men. “Look, an intruder!” barked one.

“What’s an intruder?” I asked—after all, I was only six.

“You! You are an intruder! Poorrh! A smelly one ’n’ all!”

“No, I’m not. I’m a Matt. Matt Shlumph.”

“Matt what?”

“Matt Shlumph.”

Instantly, their demeanour changed.

Once their laughter had subsided I explained my predicament. One of them, named Doc, spoke up. “Urgent meeting,” he said. At that they got into a huddle. After an animated discussion Doc spoke to me. “Now, listen carefully, Lad. By a majority vote we have reached the following decision: You, Matt Shlumph—the first party—by virtue of your having been the said object of desertion on the part of the Shlumph family—the second party—are hereby adopted into the family of the Six Dwarfs—the third party. This undertaking is given free of prejudice and on the basis that the first and second parties, or their agents or representatives, will now or at any future time save the third party free from and harmless against any and all charges, lawsuits or damages arising in any way howsoeverwise in connection thereto.”

“Huh?” I said.

A very smiley dwarf named Happy then came over and explained what Doc meant.

So started my long association with the Dwarf family. They took me into their home and on that very first evening the subject of my name arose. “Look, ask yourself,” said one named Grumpy, “how can he be Matt or Matthew when we have names that tell something about us?”

“It sure does in your case,” said Doc.

Grumpy scowled at him. The look on his face made me laugh. He scowled at me and I pointed at him and laughed my head off—not literally, of course.

“Best not to make fun of Grumpy,” a dwarf named Sneezy said to me, “it’ll make him mad.”

Then he sneezed and a gooey white railway track appeared on his face. Laugh? I almost wet myself!

The others weren’t as enthusiastic about it as I was. “Look at him!” said Grumpy, “Is he dopey, or what? That’s it! That’s what we should call him.”

So that’s how I came to be called Dopey. I tried to protest, albeit with as much success as a one legged man in a skateboard race.

“Sorry, Lad,” Doc said, “but from now on your name will be Dopey.”

“And if you mention it again,” said Grumpy, “the only Matt you’ll be is a doormatt!”

***

Years pass. We arrived home from mining one day to find a beautiful stranger sleeping in Doc’s bed. Our exclamated gasps awakened her. “Oh, hello. My name is Snow White,” she said in a soft sing-songy voice.

As one dwarf we stood open-mouthed, our hearts melting like margarine in a microwave.

We led Snow White into the living room where Doc introduced each of us in turn. She giggled politely as she shook each of us by the hand but when it came my turn and Doc said, “Last of all this is Dopey,” I noticed that her giggle was more of a 'ppffff.' In my early twenties at the time I was as keen to impress the ladies as a salesperson at a Tupperware party. Of course, I had long been aware that, except for Doc, all of our names sounded a bit daggy. But you know how it is. After a while you get used to it and you tend to accept things as they are. But her reaction to my name was like a slap in the face with a wet fish. It took me back to the time when they first called me Dopey. I had objected then and now I wanted to tell her my real name. But I didn’t want to end up as a doormat so I said nothing.

If that wasn’t bad enough I then experienced one of those mind-blowing moments which caused my life to assume all the direction of a boat being rowed by a one-armed man. But it’s a matter of great sensitivity. Should I reveal it to you…or not?

I’ll say this much: One day I stood towelling myself down after bathing and happened to gaze at myself in the bathroom mirror, making me wonder whether I really fitted into the dwarf scene [and not what you might be thinking, either].

I need a break.

Chapter II

It transpired that some of Snow White’s former associates were as dubious as a fox caught in a chicken coop claiming, “It was just a social visit.” Unbeknownst to us at the time Snow White had one such visitor one spring morning after we had left for work. Who? Let’s step back in time…

It turns out that Snow White was actually a princess. Her mum passed away and her dad, the King, re-married. Snow White’s new step-mum was a beauty, apparently, and she knew it. Each day she would look into her wall mirror asking, “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?”

“You, O Queen, are the fairest in the land,” the mirror would respond. That was until Snow White grew up. She had blossomed into a beautiful young woman and so one day when the Queen asked the usual the mirror responded, “O Queen, Snow White is the fairest in the land.”

“Lies! I want the truth!”

“You can’t handle the truth!”

“You’re a liar!”

“You’re a has been.”

“You swine! Call yourself a magic mirror? My goldfish bowl could do better!”

“Good luck with that. I’ll say no more.”

Seething with rage and jealousy the Queen called her huntsman and told him to take Snow White deep into the forest and do her in.

Now, the huntsman was a reasonable sort of guy, so when he had taken Snow White deep into the forest he told her, “Get out of the city, quick.”

“But we’re in the forest,” she replied.

“Begone, and may the Queen never find you!”

“Why not?”

“She wanted me to eliminate you but I just can’t do it.” “Oooh! Rotten cow! I s’pose I’d best be off, then.”

Of course, soon thereafter Snow White happened upon the Dwarf homestead.

After months of cajoling the Queen managed to placate the mirror, applying a new fragrant cleaner to the mirror glass. “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?” she asked, sweetly.

“No luck with the goldfish bowl, then?” the mirror asked, adding, “And let’s be clear: I know I’m on the wall and I don’t need you to keep reminding me, understand?”

“Of course, Handsome.”

Scarcely disguising its glee the mirror continued, “Over the seven jewelled hills, beyond the seventh fall, in the homestead of the Seven Dwarfs dwells Snow White, the fairest one of all!”

The Queen’s reaction? Initially, as confused as a glow-worm in a light fittings store, but as the full import of the words sank its way into the depths of her cerebrum winged observers reported that a small black cloud emitting miniature thunderbolts appeared above her head, her face turning a deep scarlet hue. Flying into a rage she stormed off in the direction of the castle cellar.

My reporters awaited her return. Instead, they beheld an old and ugly witch carrying a basket of apples. Who was she? The Queen, of course, and when she eventually arrived at the Dwarfs’ home a flock of angry birds descended, pecking at her face and arms and pulling her hair. Hearing the commotion Snow White came running out. “Leave the old duck alone!” she hollered at the birds.

“Have pity on me!” cried the old witch. “I have this basket of apples but if I eat any more of them I’ll puke. Would you swap this juicy red apple for a slice of bread?”

“Come in,” Snow White said, shutting the door in the faces of two dozen obviously very disturbed birds.

You know what happened next. The old witch handed Snow White the apple and she bit into it.

When we arrived home that evening Snow White was in a coma. We tried to wake her up but to no avail. The situation seemed as hopeless as a club-footed, one-armed pole vaulter with tennis elbow. Left with only one viable option we ordered a crystal casket through one of those mail order catalogues—express delivery. It had to be crystal for ease of viewing. Unfortunately the local casket makers used only wood, not crystal.

When it arrived we carefully placed Snow White in it, arranging with the local undertaker to take it on his horse-drawn hearse to the clearing at the forest crossroads. There we placed it on a mound we had already prepared and surrounded with flowers. Why didn’t we keep her indoors where she would be protected from the chilly night temperatures? It’s a fairy story thing, where rule 113(i) reads: when a beautiful princess has been poisoned and falls into a deep sleep only the kiss of a handsome prince can awaken her.

So there we were, day after day, feeding her intravenously and praying that some handsome prince would come along. Then, one day…

Chapter III

...Riding upon a majestic white steed came a tall, dark and handsome stranger. Pointing at the casket he asked, “What’s with yonder maiden?”

“Who wants to know?” Grumpy asked.

“Charming’s the name. Prince Charming.”

“Charmed, I’m sure,” said Doc. “Please come this way.” Leading the Prince to the casket he asked, “What do you think?”

“She’s beautiful,” said the Prince, “a vision of loveliness. I could simply stand here and gaze at her forever.”

As the minutes passed we began to wonder if he meant it. He just stood there, undeniably, smitten by the comatose princess; indisputably, bitten by the bug of love. Stepping forward I tapped him on the forearm. “Excuse me,” I said, “you realize she won’t wake up until you kiss her?”

“What?”

“She’s been poisoned. She won’t wake up until you kiss her!”

“Oh! Oh, yes. Yes, of course.”

Raising the casket lid the Prince stooped forward, gently kissing Snow White on the lips, prompting a brief exhalation from her lips as she stirred. The Prince reeled as the accumulation of several weeks’ stale breath hit him full in the face. He coughed and swallowed hard as he sought to compose himself.

Snow White awoke. “Where am I?” she asked.

“In a crystal casket at the forest crossroads,” said Happy.

“How peculiar.”

The Prince must have seen and heard enough. He took Snow White by the hand and sitting her up, asked, “Will you marry me?”

“Pardid?”

“It is I who beg your pardon, dear Lady. Allow me to introduce myself. Prince Charming at your service. Over yonder hills I have a humble little castle with forty four rooms, a ballroom as big as a football field, manicured lawns as far as the eye can see, and one of those yappy little dogs from Mexico.”

“Oh, I just love chihuahuas!”

“Then, Dearest One, would you do me the honour of taking my hand in holy matrimony?”

“What do you think, Boys?”

Cries of, “Go for it!” “Bonza!” “If you don’t marry him, I will,” buzzed around the clearing.

“The decision seems udadimous.”

“Udadimous?” asked the Prince.

“Unanimous,” I suggested.

“Yes,” she said, “my doze is blocked. I can’t think why.”

“You mean the answer is yes?”

“Is the Pope a Catholic?”

So you know the rest of the story…or do you? Prince Charming married Snow White and they lived happily ever after.

Snow White’s stepmother came to a bad end. Apparently, she ran into a thunderstorm on the way home and lit up like a beacon when the lightning struck her.

So there you have it. Nothing more to say. What? Oh. I was hoping you’d forgotten about that—what I said earlier where I wondered aloud whether I fitted into the dwarf scene. I’m torn between what one side of me is simply itching to tell you and many long years of tradition concerning the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Oh, what the heck!

I am not a dwarf. There, I’ve said it. Satisfied, are you? Happy, now? You’ve just made me ruin the long history of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I hope you can live with yourselves from now on.

What? What am I? I am a very small person! A hobbit! Haven’t you worked that out? For crying out loud look at the pictures of me! Haven’t you noticed that I was always wearing clothes that were too long in the arms and legs? That was because Doc figured that I would grow into them. He knew that I wasn’t a dwarf but when I realized it myself that fateful day he threatened me with bodily harm if I ever said anything about it. “Why?” I asked him.

“Look, Laddy,” he said, “how do you think it would look if the story was titled Snow White and the Six Dwarfs and One Hobbit, hmmm?”

I got the point. Not that it helped. Perhaps it wouldn’t have been so bad had they not changed my name to Dopey. Let’s face it, how many people do you know whose christian name is Dopey? Exactly. Zero.

Now, look, don’t feel sorry for me. My shoulders are broad. Okay, they’re not really. They’re rounded but with good reason—I’ve been carrying the weight of the world on them.

Listen. Want my best advice? Don’t let anyone change your name to Dopey. Got it? Good.