Damsel in Distress

One of the nicest compliments a woman can receive today is when somebody tells her that she has balls. Go figure. Darwin was right, we slowly adapt to what our surroundings demand of us, and so quite a lot of today’s women are tough cookies. Equally receiving and returning jabs and uppercuts instead of holding out for the white knight or some other unlikely liberation.

There was a time though, when ladies were known to faint once Life caused them a bit of strain. Their tight corsets would all of a sudden become suffocating and they would go down like a sack of flour, momentarily saved from having to deal with the rough-and-tumbles at hand. The concept is as close as you can get to the popular and desirable hole in the ground that one sometimes wants to sink into. Except instead of waiting for the floor to open up (which may take a while) you simply go out like a light:

“Please step out of the car, ma’am. You were speeding.”

“Really, officer? Uh …” (Thud.)

“You singlehandedly screwed up our biggest international business deal.”

“Is that so? Hang on …” (Thud.)

Okay, one has to admit that it’s not a lasting solution, but it definitely buys you some time, doesn’t it?


But alas, damsels still get in distress, and even the toughest cookie may crack and crumble. And when fainting is not really the answer, how do one deal with all the little punches on the nose and kicks in the teeth that Life hands out so generously? Do they store up somewhere, tiring the matter with time? That might very well be so, as basic physics tells us that nothing simply disappears. It is transferred, it changes form, but it doesn’t just dissolve. So sooner or later something’s got to give, as one says. Now, that’s a scary thought which evokes the mental image of a ticking bomb, ready to detonate. The question is when. And how. Will it be an explosion – or an implosion?

Maybe we will quite simply tumble off the shelf like Humpty Dumpty, and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men won’t be able to put us together again. Or maybe it will happen like by a small crack in a dam. One fine (but rather moist) day a heavy rainfall will make the dam burst, and when it does there won’t be any stopping it. Tons and tons of water will break free, destroying everything in its way, flooding the land, making everlasting changes.

Any which way, one should probably live like an egg, avoiding all things which might cause the first tear in the surface, push us over the edge and make us go ‘crack’. Humpty Dumpty would tell us all about it if he could. Too bad it’s so hard to learn from the mistakes of others. Besides, Mr. Dumpty’s life on a shelf sounds incredibly boring. Maybe falling down was his only and definite highlight?


Back home, youngsters finish high-school with weeks of celebrating themselves and each other. Writing greetings and slogans on red overalls. On my breast pocket I’d drawn and written something from Grimmy, the comic strip: “I don’t need food. I’m a race car!” Apart from its more obvious errors, the statement reeks from a young mind’s belief in unlimited powers and immortality. It’s a statement designed to make Faith longing to watch you go down in flames. But it still makes me grin.

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