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.
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