Wednesday 9 December 2009

Wednesday whimsy: On words and wishes.


The curtains are drawn, the lights dimmed, the birthday cake arrives bedecked with candles, the child’s face sparkles with joy and excitement. Time to blow out the candles…

“…wait,” someone cries, “you have to make a wish.”

The child pauses, catches breath, eyes are shut…

“Don’t tell us your wish,” another voice whispers, “or it won’t happen.”

The candles are blown out in one breath and the wish floats away with the last wisps of candlesmoke.

Lovely….but we worry. There is still something a little dirty about a wish, a little risky and dangerous. Wishes are tricky – not to be entered into lightly.

Stepping back from the moment of childish innocence above, we can see the risks – the way in which the selfishness of wishes may cause damage. “I want to be rich” – but at whose expense? “Make me more beautiful” – through some picture in the attic? “Make John love me” – and destroy some unwished for true love?

Wishes are important in fairy lore – often offered in reward for some service and quickly forgotten or regretted by the elf such wishes are the trickiest of all. The problems come from:

Haste: in the old tale of the Three Wishes the Goodman gets a sausage for a nose and wastes his wishes by thoughtless haste.

Payment: taking boons for payment from fairies is very risky as the princess found in Rumplestiltskin – the use of riddles, catch questions and deceit is a classic trick to avoid granting the wish

Pedantic interpretation: the wish granter interprets the wording very precisely – as Tom Holt’s hero in “Expecting Someone Taller” found. Asking to be the most handsome man simply made him Siegfried. Maybe wishing to be the richest would simply leave you owning Chelsea?

Wishes disrupt the normal world – which is why fairies promise them so readily yet deliver so reluctantly. For us to be a granted a wish near always means some change – and not always change we might desire.

As they say…beware of what you wish for, it might just come true.


1 comment:

Pam Nash said...

A salutory tale about being careful what you wish for:

A man stood before a magic mirror which promised him that it would make 3 of his wishes come true.

So the guy said, 'Mirror mirror on the wall give me a beautiful woman with a 44D bust'. Within a second, there was this huge big breasted hottie standing next to him.

The man then said, 'Mirror mirror on the wall give me money to cover the floor.' Again within a second the whole floor was carpeted with millions of pounds.

For his final wish the man said, 'Mirror mirror on the wall make my dick touch the floor.' Within a second his legs disappeared.

I'll get me coat...........