People say things all the time like “fairytale romance,” or “life isn’t a fairytale.” Maybe not all people, but for sure the people who watch romantic comedies and Hallmark movies. People like me. But I’ve been thinking lately, maybe we’ve got it all wrong.
Last night I came home from work, and I was so exhausted. I don’t want to be that parent that just comes home and goes to bed, even though I really WANTED TO BE THAT PARENT WHO GOT TO COME HOME AND GO TO BED. You get what I’m saying? So I decide that, when Mary Ann asks me to watch a movie, it’s win-win. I’m still spending time with my family, but if I fall asleep they’ll be distracted, and the worst thing that will happen is Other Half recording me snoring and some potentially embarrassing photos. With everything I’ve been through this year, neither of those things were distressing to me.
The problem was, we couldn’t choose a movie. We went through Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Amazon Prime again. But then I’m scrolling through the movies in my Amazon library, and The Princess Bride is there. Mary Ann immediately says “Yes! The Princess Bride,” as Other Half simultaneously says, “I’m not watching this crap, you know I hate this movie.”
So naturally, we watched The Princess Bride. He may be El Jefe when it comes to couches, but it was two against one for the movie.
I’m thinking about how much I love this movie, and how it’s horrible that my mom never watched it before she died because everyone should watch it before they die, and I’m immediately sucked into the story just as much as I was the first time I watched it.
I get lost in the dialogue and how perfect the casting is and how young Robin Wright Penn looks. And I wonder if Fezzick was picked on as a child, and I silently berate all of the hypothetical bullies who picked on him for their lack of foresight into his potential. And oh by the way, who was the genius who suggested Lieutenant Columbo to be the narrator? He’s perfect. All of these things go on simultaneously because my head is basically the Nascar-O-Thoughts. But twenty minutes in, I finally relaxed.
Today I’m thinking how nice it was to relax with Mary Ann and Other Half (for the 45 minutes he tolerated), and it dawned on me that The Princess Bride is the perfect fairytale. There is true love, sword fights, a giant, bad guys, friendship, revenge, pirates, and yes, eventually a happy ending.
Think about other fairytales we all know. Cinderella who is basically imprisoned for the whole movie with only rats for friends. Sleeping Beauty whose parents live in fear for their daughter’s entire life until what they’re afraid of inevitably happens, and then she overcomes it, but not before she has to be in a coma for who knows how long. And Snow White. An orphan, forced away from the only house she’d ever known, living with strangers in the woods, until she finally gets a raging case of food poisoning and again with the coma.
Now all of these characters live happily ever after, right? That’s the fairytale ending. But the fairytale stories? They’re horrible! They are the stuff nightmares are made of. When people say they want the fairytale and they mean something perfect, I have the urge to say, in the words of Inigo Montoya, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
The Princess Bride has murder plots and fire and quick sand and ROUS’s (rodents of unusual size). My life has 5 deaths in the past 18 months, a parent with end stage liver failure, working in healthcare while raising children during a pandemic, and a doberman pinscher who is allergic to literally everything. Fairytales aren’t happy. They are full of all the things that make life unfair and exciting and terrifying and beautiful. And yet here we all are longing for the fairytale. Guess what? If your life is in chaos and turmoil and uncertainty, you are living the fairytale. You’re just living in the middle of it instead of at the end.
While you’re muddling through your middle, to help you survive the scary parts, here are my top ten favorite Princess Bride quotes. Some are from the book and some are from the movie, but if you don’t recognize every single one of them, you have some homework to do. You’re welcome.
10: “Life isn’t fair, it’s just fairer than death, that’s all.”
9: Buttercup: “We’ll never survive.” Westley: “Nonsense. You’re only saying that because no one ever has.”
8: “Look. I’m not about to tell you this has a tragic ending….but there’s a lot of bad stuff coming.”
7: Miracle Max: “Have fun storming the castle!”
6: Vizzini: “No more rhymes, I mean it!” Fezzick: “Anybody want a peanut?”
5: Westley: “We are men of action. Lies do not become us.”
4: Inigo: “You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you.” Westley: “You seem a decent fellow. I hate to die.”
3: Vizzini: “Inconceivable!”
2: Inigo: “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
And the only response to any of us longing for a fairytale:
1: Westley: “As you wish.”
Hang in there. Every fairytale feels like a horror story in the middle. But don’t rush the dialogue and the perfect casting just to get to the happy ending. Lieutenant Columbo would not approve.