The Little Mermaid, Restrictive Parenting and Time Being a Joke

A Collaborative Poem

The Little Mermaid, Restrictive Parenting and Time Being a Joke
Photo by Jeremy Bishop / Unsplash

By L.M. Cole & Shiksha Dheda

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  1. So, firstly Ariel is only 16? This means she legally can't drink or drive, forget sign any binding documents that takes her bodily autonomy away from her forever

    1. When I was 16 I was Ariel; absent uninvolved parents, unwavering confidence in my naive decision making skills.

  2. Secondly, yes, we have all been there: seeing a sexy person and wanting to run away with them into the sunset, happily ever after. But, it's usually fleeting, you know. I wouldn't give up my actual voice for that. Eric is great, but he isn't that great

    1. I think a lot about those two eels: how they were wrapped in spirals around the sea witch. She would speak to them, her words dripping in syrup-sweet tones. No wonder Ursula thought Ariel was foolish for sacrificing her voice for one measly Eric.

  3. So Ariel has a weird collection/hoarding habit thing, kinda like how people collect stamps I guess. Does anyone actually actively still do that? Collect stamps? Ariel is collecting forks and stuff. The lack of straws in this movie illustrates that those were better times environmentally

    1. As a child I collected injuries, bruises and scars like stamps, like coins, like dinglehoppers and snarfblats. Fingers cut to bone with a hatchet, a crown of blood pouring out like syrup, clinging strands stuck in the liminal space between scalp and shoulder, lockjaw and a rust metal smile.

  4. Okay, so she is trading her voice for her legs? Curious choice. Despite Ursula being the villain, she is spitting facts right now; about how no one really wants to hear women anyway. Though, I guess villains are usually more self aware; it's the heroes that are ironically deluded. Does this mean that to be good, you have to be unaware? Is awareness intrinsically bad or does it just make one unaware to the point of tyranny

    1. Triton, delightfully unaware that he has prompted this desperation, is probably at the sand bar with a drink in hand, watching seahorse racing with his pals. Or something.

  5. So, Ariel gets 3 days. Like what is she supposed to do with no voice and 3 days? What if she was menstruating on those 3 days and had to figure out how to use a sanitary pad etc? Doubt Eric would be much help in this instance

    1. In second grade I had my tonsils removed and refused to speak for three weeks after the procedure, afraid of the pain, aware of the potential for drastic change in the way my voice would feel in the back of my throat, newly excavated. This temporary silence drove everyone else in my life to distraction.

  6. Within two days he is gonna kiss her already? And I can't even get a text back

    1. I read that there are electric catfish swimming about in the world and was surprised that I had only ever heard of electric eels. Maybe people are more aware of eels because we are drawn to anything phallic in nature. Is this an ingrained response? Is that why men on tinder think all women want to see their dicks?

  7. Oh, so now he is gonna marry someone else within a day? I think Eric needs to calm down and stop trying to rush into a relationship. Thankfully, he doesn't know about Tinder; he'd be engaged every other day

    1. There is a shadow of another story in Eric’s desperation to be married so suddenly, like ripping off a band-aid. People say if you rip it quickly, it hurts less, but it just hurts shorter, a quick flash-burn of heat. Like marrying someone you don’t love because you have to marry somebody.

  8. I get that Ursula isn't getting what she was promised in the soul bonding contract, but like, maybe don't get actual literal children to sign contracts. That one's on you, Ursula

    1. I’m thinking about the eels and catfish again. In The Little Mermaid, Flotsam and Jetsam are Moray Eels, not electric eels, but the thinking is the same. Humans are drawn, invariably, to things that can hurt us, as if we believe we can be the exception to the pain. An electric eel meets two attractive qualities: phallic in nature and can cause a good deal of pain. A catfish can hurt you, but it doesn’t look anything like a penis, even if you squint at it.

  9. Also, I will forever have a problem with the fact that the empowered, single, bulky woman is a villain. Like nah, she is a hustler, not a villain and despite her making deals with a 16 year old, maybe she respects Ariel's autonomy and boundaries, unlike everyone else who thinks Ariel doesn't know anything

    1. As an adult, I relate more to Ursula than Ariel. Let people make their dumb mistakes in the name of lust and love. Ursula was probably just as satisfied hanging out in her cave with her devoted eels and her octopus undercarriage. Why would she need a man? Ariel should have asked the sea witch for some tips in that area.

  10. Triton pulls through at the end. Like he can be overbearing, but he did understand the assignment and was willing to sacrifice himself for Ariel; that's some literal King shit right there

    1. In contrast, after my scalp was split open to ruin my Little Mermaid sweat suit, blood-soaked pink and pastel green, I had a concussion and my father brought me along in his jostling, dusty truck to dig up potatoes in a hot, dry field. He rolled his eyes when I vomited up the orange soda he bought me as a bribe. Orange soda still tastes a little like dirt to me now.

  11. Ohh, Ursula is actually pretty cool. Scary, yes but also cool.

    1. I think there is a pipeline from “my favorite movie was The Little Mermaid” to “I primarily enjoy tentacle porn” and along that way there is a realization that Ursula was right in a lot of ways.

  12. There's no other way than to kill her though, she is uncontrollable and unforgiving

    1. As a girl, as a child, I was taught to be sweet, to be easy, to be agreeable. Be pliable, be easy to control, be understanding. Ursula was the anti-hero, the wrong sort of woman, the warning for the future.

  13. So, in this movie, we discover that there are only 2 types of women: seemingly innocent women that are perfectly fine with lying to their life partner about their species and cool women that are uncontrollable

    1. How do you transform from controlled to uncontrollable, from doormat to dominating? How do you take the crown for yourself if not through blood?

  14. I really think it's good that Eric found out Ariel was a mermaid, because I'm pretty sure their offspring will be encased in some sort of egg shell

L.M. Cole and Shiksha Dheda are poets, writers, and friends.

L.M. Cole is a poet from the US East Coast. She has had work
published/upcoming with Roi Faineant, Gastropoda, Unfortunately Lit,
Olney Magazine and others. She can be found on Twitter @_scoops__

Shiksha Dheda is a South African of Indian descent. She uses writing
to express her OCD and depression roller-coaster ventures,  but mostly
to avoid working on her master's degree. Sometimes, she dabbles in
photography, painting, and baking lopsided layered cakes.  Her writing
has been featured (on/forthcoming) in Wigleaf, Passages North, Brittle
, Door is a jar and Epoch Press amongst others. She is the
Pushcart nominated author of Washed Away (Alien Buddha Press, 2021)
She rambles annoyingly at Twitter: @ShikshaWrites. You can find (or
ignore her) at