Happily Ever After

Originally published in Quantum Muse (October 2003)

Transcript from the “Where Are They Now?” section of SHOWBIZ SPOTLIGHT

In today’s world of video games, Nickelodeon and the Internet, fairy tales — once the bedrock of children’s entertainment — have become a thing of the past. As a result of this technocultural downsizing, famous storybook characters have flooded onto unemployment and welfare rolls across the country, bloating an already strained Federal support system. More alarmingly, others have turned to crime — the recent case of alleged drugs kingpin Winnie “the Pooh” Bear and his shoot-out with L.A.P.D. officers is a heartbreaking example of innocence trampled under the onset of the new millennium.

But there are still characters who defy the odds and make it in today’s high-pressure world. Rapunzel, the “princess blessed with tresses,” recently signed a six-figure contract with L’Oréal for her own line of hair care products, and industry insiders have long been aware of the true strategic power behind the throne at Disney (think “Mirror, mirror, on the wall”).

Another success story out of the Snow White legend is Grumpy Dwarf, best known as the most cynical member of the Seven Dwarves. At the end of the story, Grumpy (or Geno, as he now prefers to be called) went from the mountains for the Hollywood hills, where he’s currently working as Joe Pesci’s stand-in on Lethal Weapon V. The shapeless hat and homespun tunic familiar to fans of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” are long gone, replaced by a replica of Pesci’s costume, and Geno looked comfortable with a cigar and a bottle of Evian on the set.

What was life like with the famous princess?

“Snow White? I can tell you, I ain’t gonna forget her in a hurry,” Geno said, shaking his head. “I know a lot of people don’t want to hear this, but that scrawny broad hit us like Hurricane Camille.”

Weren’t the dwarves devoted to her?

“Yeah, I heard that story, too,” he said, sighing. “But you gotta understand what it was like before she showed up. We had this sweet little mining consortium goin’ — some gold, silver, a little platinum, all of it going into our Swiss account via an offshore deal in the Bahamas. Don’t get me wrong — we weren’t rolling in it like Rumplestiltskin or anything. But we definitely had some dough.

“Then Snow waltzes into our place with all of her freaking animals. Before we know it, she’s cleaning up the joint, and I don’t mean just doing the dishes. Suddenly, we can’t smoke, drink, or swear in the house, we gotta wear clean underwear all the time — that simpering bimbo even tossed my entire Playboy collection in the oven. And she made us pay taxes. I tell you, that hurt the most.”

If Snow White was so difficult, why did you let her live with you?

“Well, she seemed sweet enough, if a little tight-assed, so we put up with her,” he said, shrugging. “Besides, it gets a little lonely in those mountains. Not that she was interested, don’t get me wrong. But it was an old cottage, you know? Lots of little holes in those walls. Hey, I’m a little guy — all I need is a little hole.

“Anyway, things are going along fine, and then Miss Stupido lets that old witch into the cottage. We told her, ‘Snowy, no visitors, understand? You’re number one on the Queen’s hit list, and you don’t know who Evillina is gonna send after you.’ But did she listen? Hell, no — she lets this perfect stranger into the house, takes food from her, and then eats it.” He shook his head again. “Talk about number one candidate for the Darwin Award. It scares me that she’s gonna breed.”

What about the aftermath of the famous kiss from Prince Charming?

“Oh, please. They rode off into the sunset, and that was it for the short guys,” Geno snorted. “No ‘thank you’, no ‘come up to the palace sometime’ — we didn’t even get invited to the wedding. I mean, we slaved our asses off building that coffin, standing vigil, getting all those damned flowers — I thought Sneezy was going to blow his head off a few times from the pollen. And along comes Stretch, kisses her awake, and Miss Shotgun Vibrato just heads off into the sunset with him. Talk about gratitude.”

So what were the Seven Dwarves up to now?

“Eh, we got tired of living in that damn forest, so we split up the consortium,” Geno said. “Doc, he passed his Plastic Surgery Boards and set up practice here in Beverly Hills. I got some email from him just the other week — it said ‘Screw mining, the real gold’s in liposuction.’ And Happy, well, he finally came out. He’s running an antiques store in New York — last I heard, he was raking it in from the tourists and seeing someone named Timon.

“Bashful, now, he’s working for this phone sex company. It’s incredible — put a woman in front of him and all he can do is giggle. Put her on the other end of a phone line, and he can make her panties slide off in 10 seconds flat. And Sneezy moved out to Arizona to try and get his allergies under control — last thing I heard, he was living in some geodesic dome and wearing a lot of Kleenex.

“Sleepy? Narcoleptic, poor bastard. The docs still don’t have his meds down right.”

What happened to the most beloved of the Seven Dwarves?

“You mean Dopey? You got a weird definition of beloved. But that’s the best story of all — I dunno how he managed it, but Dopey got himself a job as programming executive at ABC. Which explains a few things about their latest lineup, if you think about it.”

And Geno?

“Me, I’m doing okay,” he said, puffing his cigar expansively. “It was rough at first, sure — there wasn’t a hell of a lot of work for guys my size once they got rid of the Hamburglar at McDonalds, and Billy Barty had a hammerlock on most of those jobs anyway. But now I got a permanent gig as Pesci’s stand-in, and occasionally I do stunt work for the fat kid on South Park, so it ain’t all bad. Hell, you might even say I’m livin’ large.”

He blew out a stream of smoke, and grinned. “Just don’t say it to my face. I still swing a mean pickaxe.”