The Addams Family and the Inappropriate Elf
Into every life some sunshine must fall. We Addamses have not been immune from the commonplace misfortunes that befall every family. There was the time Cousin Itt decided to get a permanent wave, and the sad occasion when the city forced us to drain our lovely swamp for no reason that I could see. And then there was the time my beloved husband changed into something quite unlike his usual self.
We were all gathered round the breakfast table for Maman’s specialty, toadstool omelet, except for Uncle Fester, who was helping Pugsley with an anti-gravity ray for his science project, and Gomez. It wasn’t like Gomez to be late, so I gave the bell pull a tug, absentmindedly reaching to steady the tea service as the room rocked with the gentle sound of the gong. Lurch, as always, shimmered in at once.
“You rang?” he chirped in his usual cheery tone.
“Yes, Lurch. Would you please tell Mr. Addams that breakfast is ready.”
A moment later my darling husband appeared at my side, tucked securely under Lurch’s arm. Dear Lurch is so reliable.
“Thank you, Lurch. Please put Mr. Addams in his usual chair.”
I was just pouring Gomez his morning cup of brew, with extra cyanide - just the way he likes it – when I glanced across the table at him and saw that something was wrong. I had noticed his deathly pallor when Lurch carried him in, but I had thought it was the healthy deathly pallor brought on by his beneficial regimen of frequent moonbathing. Until I noticed his ears.
“Gomez! Your ears! What on earth has happened to them?” Had they pointed outwards, I of course would not have worried; it would simply have meant that the few drops of vampire blood which run in the Addams veins had asserted itself. But the points were right at the tops of his ears, pointing straight up. It could only mean one thing.
The poor darling looked utterly miserable as the entire family stared at his ears. “I’m sorry, Morticia. I should have told you sooner. But I was afraid you wouldn’t marry into a family that had tainted blood. I didn’t know myself until Cousin Baldur’s ears went pointy a few years ago. He hasn’t taken his hat off since.”
Even in my shock, I admonished him for that at once. “Gomez! You know I could never have married anyone else.” My eyes moistened as cherished memories returned. “Remember our first honeymoon?”
Despite our troubles, a nostalgic smile spread over Gomez’s handsome face. “That wonderful cruise. The Bermuda Triangle.”
“Such a charming place.”
“Father?” Darling little Wednesday spoke up, bringing our attention back to the crisis of the moment. And in the innocent way of children, she said the terrible word none of us had wanted to say: “Does this mean we’ll be elves too?”
Dear Gomez at once sank back into dejection. “Not at all!” Maman assured her at once. “Sometimes it skips a generation.” She looked fiercely around the table. “But we’ve got to do something about this before it starts to show. We can only cover it up so long before the neighbors notice that Gomez is acting strange!”
“Gomez? Act strange? Don’t be ridiculous, Maman!”
“That elf blood can be pretty powerful,” she warned. “If we don’t watch it, he’ll start baking cookies!”
I gasped. “Maman!”
“Wearing curly-toed shoes!”
Gomez looked horrified. “I would never shame the Addams name that way!”
“Moving to the North Pole to make toys for-”
“Maman!” I cried. “Not in front of the children!”
“Tish,” my beloved Gomez mumbled in despair, “what are we going to do?”
I was still reeling in horror at the thought of our neighbors learning the terrible secret hidden in our cozy crumbling manor, which seemed so ordinary from the outside, but at Gomez’s desperate tone my spine stiffened. My husband needed me.
“Perhaps it isn’t as bad as we think, darling. Surely there must be someone who knows about these things who we can ask for advice.”
Without even waiting to be asked, Thing, always so helpful, had handed Maman one of her quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore, and she at once started leafing through it. It’s so handy to have an intellectual in the family.
“Here it is! Elves used to lurk near petroglyphs in the old country,” Maman told us.
“Didn’t we see a petroglyph in Death Valley on our second honeymoon?” Gomez asked.
“Yes, we saw several. But they’re Indian ones – do you suppose elves like those too?”
“You’ve seen one petroglyph, you’ve seen ‘em all. If you go there around twilight, you should spot some. Make sure you take them some butter.”
“We’ll leave at once. Wednesday, you mind Grandmaman while we’re gone, darling.”
“Can I feed your plant while you’re gone, Mother?” Wednesday asked, and her little face was so hopeful I couldn’t disappoint her.
“Just so long as you don’t let Cleopatra gulp her hamburger as she likes to. You know it gives her indigestion.”
We spent the next two days driving cross-country with fearful thoughts of granting wishes and making shoes. By the time we reached Death Valley and chose one of the ancient rock carvings to park our roadster near, it was a blessed relief to watch the light begin to soften and the shadows lengthen, giving a comfortingly eerie look to the scene.
As dusk approached, we saw someone approaching, but he did not seem to be an elf. As he drew near, we saw that he was a human, a professor if his tweed jacket with patched elbows and the pad on which he was constantly taking notes on everything he saw about him were any indication. We sat in our car, waiting, and when he was only about ten paces away, suddenly the most lovely music began to play from somewhere. We had no idea from where, but it was a perfect 2/4 count, and Gomez and I never miss a chance to tango.
And we did, for several minutes there by the petroglyph, oblivious to everything else. Our attention was only distracted when we saw a doorway, cunningly hidden in the petroglyph, smoothly open – and the man we had seen strolling towards us was dancing in.
We paused, and before we could decide whether we should follow him, a handsome young man with long hair and pointed ears stepped out. Inclining his head to Gomez, he said, “Greetings, Fae brother. I am Andvari Dökkálfar.”
“Greetings. I’m Gomez Addams, and this is my lovely wife Morticia,” Gomez replied at once with his usual debonair manner. He gestured to the door with his cigar. “Friend of yours?”
“Oh, no. When travellers come by without the offering of butter, we lure them into our realm with music. When they stop dancing, they find that decades have passed which seemed only minutes to them.”
My spirits began to lift. These elven folk might not be so bad after all. “And what do your guests do then?” I asked.
He shrugged gracefully. “Oh, every seven years we send a tithe of mortals to the Infernal Regions.”
“Really!” Gomez’s face lit up like a jack o’lantern. “Very gracious treatment for your guests, especially considering they didn’t bring you any butter.”
Thus reminded, I fetched the butter for him – a peculiar food, but we can’t expect elves to eat wholesome human food, such as yak stew. He was a very cordial host, and kindly spent the entire night dispelling our foolish prejudices about elves. Among other things, he told us of an amusing prank some elves play, of sitting on a sleeping person’s head to give him fascinating nightmares, and about the Svartálfar, or “black elves” who live in lovely deep caves in the old country. By the time he told us of the älvablåst, a charming rash elves can cause people by blowing upon them, we knew that the reputation elves had as cute beings who prepared sugary confections and dress in tasteless Robin Hood costumes was the product of sheer ignorance.
“I do hope you’ll come to visit us at our home, Andvari,” I told him with heartfelt gratitude as Gomez helped me into the car at dawn. “We will be certain to have plenty of butter and half-baked bread for you.”
For our third honeymoon, we accepted an invitation from a distant relative, the Erlking, to join in the Wild Hunt.