31 July 2012

The New Damsel

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a knight in possession of armor and sword must be in want of a dragon. Or a nemesis.

It is likewise universally known that such knight must more often than not have a damsel in distress to save in order to complete himself.

Also that, in braving dragon or black knight to save said maiden, the knight himself becomes a hero and realizes his true greatness, both as knight and man. 

And that, unless he is unfathomably stupid, he never reverts back to the knight he was before heroism smiled upon him, but continues on, growing greater and nobler and more heroic until his reputation can't even fit in the storybooks.

But what is not universally acknowledged, even if it is known, is that it was probably the damsel's idea in the first place.

After all, who do you think wrote the code of chivalry? Really? 

It's a brilliant ploy, and artfully acted out, this crisis of imprisonment by a fiery reptile or a sable villain. It's the lady's way of getting the knight out of his seat—dragging him up from the dregs of his ale barrel and mutton grease, the dogs snapping at the bones at his feet and his feet as well, and away from his lewd companions, late sleep and bawdy company—and persuading him to rise to the nobility of character his knightly title bears; for she loves him, but she will not settle for sloth, foul mind and mediocrity.

And desperate times (or desperate women) call for desperate measures. After all, the thicker a knight's skull, the more valuable he is at court (in case his helmet should crack in combat). But in terms of his damsel's expectations, the knight the king favors most may prove the nut hardest for the lady to crack.

So through danger and dirt the ladies stick the charade out for their men of choice and prompt them to the greatness languishing too long dormant in them.

It is no easy process, whether because of danger, dirt, misjudgment on the female's part or sheer stupidity on the knight's. But we give the damsels their due credit; they train, prod, act, pretending to faint or tossing those ridiculous handkerchiefs, luring the knight to his dragon and the dragon to the knight. Then they watch; desire how they might to fight they know the knight would never live it down. So they appraise the situation, perhaps shrilling out encouragement, urging the knight to find his inner caliber.

And they succeed. From the thick of battle emerges a true knight, a man now worthy of his lady's love. Some of the more ambitious ones even manage to get their knights sainted—the crowning honor.

It is an age-old practice, an ancient formula, a venerable sorority, with secrets, techniques and encouragement handed down from mother to daughter for generations. (Can you imagine the plotting and planning, competing and cat fights that go on behind closed doors in the ladies' quarters during the men's feasts?!)

And few, if any, men ever made aware.

No, I haven't proven it yet. But it'll make a great story.

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