(un)Fair Folk

My husband and I were talking the other day about the pitfalls of dealing with fairies. They are evil and tricky little bastards, and no matter how well you know the rules, any encounter is bound to end badly. Yet, I am going to list the things I know here as an exercise in self caution, and perhaps it will help anyone else who has the misfortune of finding a fairy.

– Do Not Eat The Food.

That shit is crazy drugged with magic and if you eat it you never leave fairy land which is pretty much the worst fate ever. (that place gives me nosebleeds in three seconds flat.)

– Do Not Give Your Name.

Your true name is tied to your soul. If you’ve given your name, you’ve given the fairy a handle with which he will drive you into the ground, just for a laugh.

– Do Not Trade.

Fairies make it a point to come out three times ahead of you in any trade, and if they think you’ve caught on to how well they’ve fucked you over, they’ll just take everything you’ve got.

– Gifts Freely Given, With No Thought To One’s Own Gain, Will Be Returned Thrice-fold.

My husband was trying to tell me that there’s no difference between this and the last rule, but that’s because he is a pragmatist and fairies couldn’t logic their way out of a paper bag. Also, my husband has been the wage-earner for his family since he was twelve, and he does not think that anything can be freely given. (However, he does the dishes all the time without asking me to dry, so there’s something his heart knows that his head can’t get around.) There is a difference, though, and the stupid little magic buggers can sniff it out like bloodhounds.

It’s hard to turn it off, this need to trade a gift for freedom. When they’ve got you, all you want is to get away. But you have to see past the glitter and glamour and the evil little faces with eyes that gleam greedily waiting to tear the skin from your fingers just to see if it hurts (and it does.) You have to pretend that you’re speaking to a person so hard that it elevates them, makes them into one, and then you decide that you like this person despite all the wickedness they’ve done. And then, when they’re sitting there, almost feeling sorrow (or pretending like they do, because the fairies know what they’re missing by being immortal, even if they’ve never had it. It’s why they’re so cruel to us.), that’s when you give them something. Whatever you have. Red yarn, silver ring, crumpled dollar, whatever. That’s just what I happen to have on me.

If you’re smart, you keep trinkets in your pockets. They like catching people unprepared, so if you’ve got something good on you (brass keys, especially) it mostly keeps them away.

Anyway, that gift, given at the time when they’re so close to feeling something, it makes them just human enough to let you slip away. It doesn’t really matter what the object is, it’s the feeling that’s the gift. That’s what the fairies really want. Of course, if you can’t manage to give it to them, they’re just as pleased to peel the skin from your bones.

Good luck.

Human

I was reading She-Hulk (the sensational) and there was one point where an alien had been speaking to Jen Walters (She-Hulk) and attempted some spooky space-spell to get them out of a jam. The spell backfired and he was all “Oh jeeze I thought you were a Skrull!” and Jen was like “No, dude I’m a human, I’m just green because my idiot cousin Bruce Banner gave me a blood transfusion well after it was established that he was an irradiated gamma-monster!”

I’m paraphrasing.

And the other person they were with raised her hand and said to the alien “Hey, what gives, you’ve already called Jen a human like five times this issue!” And the alien said “Well yeah, but all species basically call themselves ‘human’ in their own language.”

And it sort of got me thinking about all the indigenous people who have words for themselves that translate as “the people.” So our words to describe ourselves are as vague as our understanding of ourselves. We know what man’s inhumanity to man means, even though at face value the phrase is ridiculous.

Seriously, think about it. Is man even capable of being inhuman? Yes, but only because we have these odd connotations that fit into those letters that far outweigh all the words we have to describe them.

I’ve been working on a story concerning a woman who has been (heavily) modified to live on another planet, and whether or not she should still be considered human. Especially as she has never seen earth, and does not consider herself to be human. She has another word for herself, and of course, like that silly alien in She-Hulk, it basically means human, but not human like you.

I’m attempting to establish a committee to decide the meaning of humanity. It is flawed. It is a political monster that has other reasoning behind its decisions; that has made its decision before the hearing because there is too much to lose if humanity is defined. This story will not really be about defining humanity. I don’t really have it in me.

Also, I’m like, 27. Dude, I really don’t need to go setting down terms like that at 27. Yeah, I know I just wrote about writing beyond your reach, but… I’m already doing that by impersonating Jose Saramago in parts of this.

Anyway, stories are written to dance around the undefinable. No one is really right in this story. She is human and not. The committee is human and monster. I am for something and against it. The second I start to write to take a stand it ceases to be a story and becomes philosophy. There is nothing wrong with philosophy, I quite like it, but I’d rather be a story teller.

Alright, enough time wasted. Back to telling stories. (And reading She-Hulk.)