The other day, as I was washing dishes, Daughter remembered she needed to take her gummy vites. She caught my attention and when I turned around, she presented me with a gummy bear mostly nibbled everywhere except its ears. She explained, “It’s ‘to the pain.'” It took a moment for me to recall she had recently rewatched “The Princess Bride” before I understood; I mean, I did not most of the lines by heart, so it shouldn’t have surprised me. I recited a few about noses and feet, but leaving the “perfect ears” so that “every woman who shrieks, ‘Dear God, what is that thing?'” and she nodded her head.
When it dawned on me not only what she referred to, but what she had done in the process, I felt a shiver of horror. “Why would you do that to a gummy bear? I mean, he didn’t steal your true love and plot to murder her, did he?”
Daughter began to reconsider her choice, and popped the bear into her mouth, chewing. We some how ended up on the subject of chocolate bunnies. “I like to start with their ears,” she explained.
I said, “I prefer to eat the head first, to make sure it feels no pain.”
“But the ears are the best part. Then I eat the feet and work my way up the body, leaving the head for last.”
It sounded cruel to me, and I said so. “I know the ears are best, but you could at least decapitate it to save it from suffering all the rest of your meal, then eat the parts you like best as you go.” She considered the possibility. I stopped what I was doing and turned back to her. “You don’t do this with living animals do you? Pull the wings off of flies or something?”
“No,” she said, quite firm. “Just the ones made of chocolate.”
Relieved, we went back to our discussion on decapitation, and it ended with me explaining why guillotines were considered the most human form of execution at their inception. “A headsman’s axe sometimes wouldn’t go all the way through the neck, so designing a heavily-weighted blade to fall from a great height pretty much guaranteed your beheading would be swift. Of course, your brain can live for up to two to three minutes after decapitation–”
“But you’re only conscious a few seconds, right?”
“Well, you’d be struggling for oxygen without lungs, so even if you were still alive for a couple of minutes, I doubt there’d be much awareness left by the end. A lack of oxygen can lead to brain damage fairly quickly, not that you’ll need to worry about that once you’re severed from your body.”
“And then you could see when they held your head up to the crowd?”
“Um,” I said, starting to find the talk becoming more gruesome than I intended. “Maybe, but like I said, you’d probably be more aware of the lack of oxygen if anything.”
She learned a small part of French history, and I learned that while my daughter sometimes seems a little dark, she doesn’t allow that to translate into harm to others. Just chocolate rabbits and gummy bears. Candy doesn’t really feel pain, right?
A reminder of the “Princess Bride” conversation on pain:
Prince Humperdinck: First things first, to the death.
Westley: No. To the pain.
Prince Humperdinck: I don’t think I’m quite familiar with that phrase.
Westley: I’ll explain and I’ll use small words so that you’ll be sure to understand, you warthog faced buffoon.
Prince Humperdinck: That may be the first time in my life a man has dared insult me.
Westley: It won’t be the last. To the pain means the first thing you will lose will be your feet below the ankles. Then your hands at the wrists. Next your nose.
Prince Humperdinck: And then my tongue I suppose, I killed you too quickly the last time. A mistake I don’t mean to duplicate tonight.
Westley: I wasn’t finished. The next thing you will lose will be your left eye followed by your right.
Prince Humperdinck: And then my ears, I understand let’s get on with it.
Westley: WRONG. Your ears you keep and I’ll tell you why. So that every shriek of every child at seeing your hideousness will be yours to cherish. Every babe that weeps at your approach, every woman who cries out, “Dear God! What is that thing,” will echo in your perfect ears. That is what to the pain means. It means I leave you in anguish, wallowing in freakish misery forever.
Prince Humperdinck: I think you’re bluffing.
Westley: It’s possible, Pig, I might be bluffing. It’s conceivable, you miserable, vomitous mass, that I’m only lying here because I lack the strength to stand. But, then again… perhaps I have the strength after all.
[slowly rises and points sword directly at the prince]
Westley: DROP… YOUR… SWORD!
Prince Humperdinck: [Humperdinck’s mouth hangs open, drops sword to floor]