Thursday, May 26, 2011

Popsicles, Icicles and Other Not-So-Little Mermaid Songs

Earlier this week, I wrote an article for SexIs about Scarleteen and some of the other websites young adults can turn to for accurate sexuality advice. Today my writing mission, should I choose to accept it, is to start a scholarly-humorous piece about the association between fish and female genitalia. One of the research materials I've gathered is A Mermaid's Tale: A Personal Search For Love and Lore by Amanda Adams.

I've had this book from the library before, and I recall that it contains several versions of the European fairy tale of Melusina. I first heard of Melusina in 1999, when I was a college student taking a course on women and religion. One of the texts I read was Sexes and Geneologies by the French feminist Luce Irigaray, which introduced me to the half-fairy princess considered to be the mother of some prominent French families and the architect of a number of castles. (I'm thinking she's associated with Brittany, but that could be wrong.)

Melusina, whom I remember best as Melusine, was cursed by her fairy mother for the crime of imprisoning her human father. Once a month she turned into, depending on your source, either a mermaid or a snake-creature. Like the bean-sidhe (Gailge for "woman of the fairy mounds," appropriated by the English language as banshee), Melusine's cries can be heard to foretell the deaths of her descendants.

I found this fairy tale fascinating and stored it away in my brain for a decade. (Writers, in case you didn't know, are like walking encyclopedias.) Finally I wrote my own version, "Melusine's Secret," which appears in the Hearts of Tomorrow anthology from Melange Books. In my version, Melusine's transformation has less to do with fish or serpents...but I won't spoil the surprise. Suffice it to say there's magic and sexual exploration.

In the Disney version of the The Little Mermaid, Ariel loses her voice in exchange for legs to walk around on land. In the Hans Christian Anderson version, the mermaid gets her legs but must suffer terrible pain when she walks. In the midst of my dual crush on Indiana Pacers Reggie Miller and Rik Smits (see "Pairs of Really Big Ones"), I remembered this aspect of the fairy tale at the tail end of Rik's career, when he was having ongoing foot problems. Putting two and two together, I determined that the big, blond Netherlander was, in fact, a merman.

That's what I know about men and fish tails. Now I must be off to discover the secret behind women's tails and fishes. P.S. "Popsicles and Icicles" is an oldie pop hit for a singing group called The Murmaids, in case ya didn't know.


Anonymous said...

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Erin O'Riordan said...

SexIs published the "Fish Tales" article yesterday at