Once upon a time, there lived a girl named Little Red Riding-Hood. Yes, that was her name; her parents, Mr. And Mrs. Riding-Hood, thought they were tremendously clever and funny. One day, these incredibly responsible parents sent their young child to her grandmother’s house. Of course, grandma didn’t leave just down the street or even a couple of blocks away. Nope, the old gal lived in the deep, dark, wolf-infested woods on the outskirts of town.
Now, perhaps Little Red wanted to escape her wacky parents. Perhaps she wanted to travel. Perhaps she was really depressed and suicidal. Whatever her reason was, she left for grandma’s house.
When she got there (the ride on the bus with the crazy guy, and the long trek through the woods are stories for another time), she knocked on the wooden door. It opened of its own volition and Ms. Was-That-A-Bad-Sign-Or-What waltzed right in.
There, in a bed that was directly across from the open door, was a big creature in a pink nightgown. Red figured it was grandma, despite the enormous amount of facial hair and its large snout. (Just another example of why one should visit one’s grandparents often.) So, while most of the sane world would have been wary, that little girl went straight to that bed and had a little conversation with good ol’ granny. It went something like this:
“Who are you, bite-size?”
“Little Red Riding-Hood”
“Yes, my parents sent me to visit you.”
“No, I meant, you call yourself Little Red Riding-Hood?”
(It is at this point that the defensive reflex resulting from the name kicked in.) “You got a problem with the name? You have big ears.”
“The better to hear you.”
“Well, you’ve got big, ugly eyes too.”
“The better to see you.”
“Yeah? Your teeth are yellow and nasty in your big, smelly mouth. I’m leaving, Grandma.”
Little Red did, in fact, turn her back on ‘granny’ and began to leave. The creature, hungry and hurt because kids can be so cruel, rose from the bed. Luckily for Red, a young woodsman (as was the job title at the time) walked into the home. With just a glance, he knew the monstrous creature towering over the oblivious girl was not dear old grandma, his lady love. So he threw his axe and killed the beast.
Upon closer inspection, Little Red and the man discovered the furry animal was a wolf in grandma’s clothing. Instead of marveling over a wolf who did not only speak English, but also dressed in women’s clothes, the pair searched for grandma. They found her hiding in a closet. After kissing her knight in plaid shirt and jeans, Grandma invited Little Red to live with her and her boyfriend. It turned out that granny was loaded and could afford to get a bigger house, buy a more efficient security system, bribe the proper adoption and court officials to make guardianship of Little Red ‘legal’, and change that poor girl’s name to something dignified. And that is how Little Red Riding-Hood finally got to change her name to Empress. (They let her choose her own new name.)