Sunday, April 24, 2005

gruesome stuff

does anyone remember the song/nursery rhyme "there was an old woman who swallowed a ___"?

to refresh your memory:

There was an old woman who swallowed a cow,
I don't know how she swallowed a cow!
She swallowed the cow to catch the goat,
She swallowed the goat to catch the dog,
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat,
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her,
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly,
I don't know why she swallowed the fly,
Perhaps she'll die.

(this is the last verse of the song, where each successive verse adds a new animal that the old woman has swallowed.)

this is a pretty gruesome thing to be telling little kids when you think about it. imagine replacing "swallowed the dog" with "swallowed [your pet] spike." but what always puzzled me is the last line.

the payoff:

There was an old woman who swallowed a horse,
She's dead—of course!

two thoughts:

1) "of course"? the woman has now successfully swallowed 7 creatures from the animal kingdom, and she feels like a million bucks. she's already swallowed an entire fucking cow. (it takes me at least 3 sessions at central steakhouse to do that, and i'm a pretty sinewy guy*.) i don't think smugness is called for here. it certainly stands to reason that she would be a-okay swallowing a horse.

2) yeah, i know you called it, but do you really have to rub it in now? presumably this is an acceptable way to tell children that someone has died, as long as it is their own fault.

"Kids, your mother is smoking a pack of cigarettes a week. Perhaps she'll die."
"Your mother is smoking a pack a day. Perhaps she'll die."
"Your mother is smoking 2 packs a day. Perhaps she'll die."
"Your mother got lung cancer, she's dead--of course!"

i mean, christ, let us down a little easier.

"There was an old woman who swallowed a horse,
but now she has to go on a really long business trip,
and she is happier where she is now"

* this reference is for Actual God


Matt said...

The version we circulated was somewhat more light-hearted:

There was an old woman who ate an aplle and died.

The apple fermented
Inside the lamented,
And soon there was cider inside her.

Yes, it was terrifying that fruit could kill, but the possibility of eternal life through juice was uplifting.

matt said...


jeremy said...

6:57 AM? It must have been snowing last night.