200 grimm years

When I was a little kid I was subject to a number of strange devices divined by those of the orthodontic profession.  Braces wouldn’t do the trick, and so I wore strange headgear at night that pulled my upper jaw away from my head with tiny rubber bands and a small metal plate between my upper teeth that expanded with each turn of a small key.

At the end of this long procession of modern torture devices was an oral surgeon.  My upper jaw was simply too small, the orthodontist had said.  We could cut a piece out of my lower jaw and put it into my upper jaw, he said.  We went to see a jaw surgeon who described the surgery (purely aesthetic) and the month following during which I would have my mouth wired shut.  I refused, went home, and smashed my pink plastic retainer with a hammer in the driveway.  That man’s name was Doctor Grimm.

This is neither here nor there, though today, writing about the 200-year anniversary of publication of the Grimm Brothers’ first collection of fairy tales for work, I remembered that other Grimm and clicked my jaw a few times in his honor.  All the headgear ever managed to do was slightly dislocate my jaw, making it click whenever I move it from side to side.  It’s as good a reason as any not to rely on modern medicine any more than you have to.

As for the Grimm Brothers, I have my qualms with them as well.  They collected the folk tales of many, preserving their visions of brutal murder, arranged marriage, and devilry for those of the following centuries.  A noble historical pursuit, and who gets all the credit?  None of the actual authors’ names have become household currency, worthy of celebrating and creating kitschy internet quizzes over (though the Grimms did pen a few of the tales themselves—I do not know which).  And have you ever read the original Snow White?  Did you know that “the good guys” make the wicked witch dance to death on hot coals at the end?  Perhaps the bearers of that name are simply drawn to the darkness of violence and torture.  Click click click click.



0 Comments on “200 grimm years

  1. Yes in many of them the “bad guys” are tortured to death at the end. You’ve got that Cinderella version with the stepsisters being picked to death by birds, of all things. No one comes off very good in most fairy tales, if you ask me. Not a lot of forgiveness going around.

  2. And I was just reading that the Grimm brothers cut out a ton of sex and added in a bunch of religion. Bah! So much for preserving history when you get down to reading about the editing that they did.

  3. I have a Penguin copy of their Magic Tales which I basically bought because the cover’s blank so you can draw on your own. I’ve never got round to reading a single story in it (or drawing on a cover) and I didn’t know any of what you’ve just shared. So, I think I’m going to pluck it off the bookshelf this afternoon, stick the kettle on and have a little read. Today feels like the perfect day for a brutal fairytale or two.

  4. Strange how different things are when you’re paying for your treatment. That’s one crucial difference I guess between the US and the UK: over here NHS dentistry is free for children, but they’ll only do the bare minimum. When I was a kid my teeth were a disaster. One stubborn baby tooth refused to come out, causing all my others to grow around it. But the dentist wouldn’t do anything. I actually wanted braces, but by the time all my adult teeth were in he said it was too late and that if I wanted braces I would need surgery similar to the one you’re describing. Apparently my jaws aren’t lined up properly. I went through all the prep for the surgery, but in the end decided against it.
    Now my teeth are one part of my body I really feel self-conscious about. They’re full of gaps with odd teeth sticking out my gums. My teeth don’t meet and my jaw clicks all the time. I can’t open my mouth very wide because of the misalignment and if I sing for very long I get a deep ache in my jaw. I guess I wish I’d just had the bloody surgery! But I also wish the dentist had given me braces liked I’d asked!

  5. I had the good sense, based only on my already-present insomnia, to refuse nighttime headgear. Mine was designed to slow the growth of my lower jaw. Sadly, I did not refuse the torturous key-operated metal plate. To this day, my lip is split in the center and refuses to heal, cracking open at night and bleeding often. I am terribly prejudiced against dentists, viewing them as pain-loving psychos.

  6. Julia: I know right? What the hell? They could have left those bits in thanks.

    Frau Dietz: And did you read a few of them? What violent horrors did you uncover? I love the idea of being able to draw the cover on yourself. Although I can’t draw, so I guess at the same time it would be pretty useless for me. You draw anything on there yet?

    RR: DAMN! That sounds like a nightmare. But part of me is excited to know someone else with a clicking jaw. I think our insurance covered all my tomfoolery. Would have been fine if they didn’t. My teeth always worked, and never looked snaggely or anything. I think I was by and large a guinea pig for those doctors. It is funny, when I was little I wished I could get braces because so many kids had them they were considered cool for a while. Weird huh?

    Maegen: You had the key thing too?! Sounds like that had a terrible aftermath for you. Arh! What the fuck?! Why why why is all I can think of when I think of it all.

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