Once upon a time, there was a big-mouthed ex-mayor and a former congresswoman who liked hats.

The time was Friday, when Ed Koch joined Bella Abzug to read fairy tales to 100 youngsters at the Children's Museum of Manhattan. The former adversaries didn't live happily ever after, but they hooked up for "Cinderella" and "Jack and the Beanstalk."The pair read two versions of each tale: a traditional one, and an "upside-down" one telling the same story from a different point of view. In the non-traditional "Cinderella" read by Abzug, for example, one of the so-called ugly stepsisters "sets the record straight." The stories come from a series of books called "Upside Down Tales."

The two made light of their history of political differences.

"I have great respect for her. I happen to like her, even if I disagree with her," Koch said before the reading. Abzug echoed Ed: "If you can't talk with each another, you can't disagree with each other."