I’m precious short on time, so today, we have an insanely fast doodlewash of this cookie guy. When I was kid, there was a fairy tale around this time of year that had the catchy repeated phrase, “Run, run as fast as you can. You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man.” The rest of the story is macabre and rather pointless, but this line stuck with me. In the common version of the tale, a little old lady bakes a gingerbread man only to have it come to life and run out the door screaming, “don’t eat me!” Rather than have a heart attack on the spot, the old woman just starts chasing him as though this inconvenient thing happens all the time. He out runs the old lady while mocking her for being slow. Following the old lady, he continues to outrun an old man, a pig, a cow, and a horse. At this point they’ve all formed a mob of angry villagers, as apparently even the old lady is still in pursuit. But next, he’s quickly devoured by the fox and the story abruptly ends. As stories go, this one kind of sucks.
I’ve never really understood the point of this tale. As a kid you’re chanting along with it and just enjoying the fact that there’s so many cameos by your favorite animal creatures. And throughout the race, you’re pretty much rooting for the gingerbread man the whole time. His pursuers are trying to eat him, after all, not take him to the zoo. Yelling back at them is well within his right since he didn’t do anything beyond magically spring to life to deserve to be eaten in the first place. What’s the moral? When someone tries to attack and eat you for no reason at all, just keep quiet and let them? Sure, he was a bit of a cocky jerk, but again, he’s the victim throughout the tale. There’s no twist. Just a bunch of hungry old people and animals who are trying to kill him until one finally does. The lesson, if there is one, is difficult to decipher.
I actually had to do a fast search online to see if there was indeed a unanimous moral to this story. The most often mentioned motif is that everyone other character seems to think he belongs to them. This, should somehow teach children that they can’t always get what they want. This, of course, falls flat since the fox got exactly what he wanted by simply being cunning and also lying. In the end, the child psychologists seem just as baffled as everyone else and in a last-ditch effort to make some sense of the tale exhaustedly say that the moral is simply that you should not trust anyone without consideration. To me, this is simply proof that this is the dumbest story ever told, and that even the dumbest of stories can often stand the test of time. The point of all of this, I guess, is to say that if you’re a fox this holiday season be vigilant. You might just be able to enjoy a little taste of the gingerbread man.
About the Doodlewash
Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Sennelier Red, Phthalo. Green Light, Burnt Sienna, and Payne’s Grey. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon with black ink in a little red cloth hardbound l’aquarelle journal I found in a Paris shop.
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!